5 Tips For Adapting eLearning Programs To International Audiences
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Adapting eLearning Programs To International Audiences: 5 Tips 

It is obvious that eLearning is exploding. According to data from Ambient Insight Research, while worldwide interest in self-paced eLearning is reducing, the growth rate in developing countries has been very positive – with countries like Rwanda, Mongolia, and Myanmar experiencing an average growth rate of over 25% when it comes to self-paced eLearning.

If you’re yet to start tailoring your eLearning program to an international audience, perhaps it’s time to start. If you’re already targeting an international audience, the following tips are worth consideration:

1. Ensure Flexibility With Your Content Format And Delivery Mechanism

When designing an eLearning program for an international audience, the very first thing to work on is your content format and delivery mechanism, as that will determine whether people are able to access your content or not.

While many developed nations enjoy superfast broadband internet speeds that allow them to access multimedia content with great convenience, it is not so for most nations of the world – especially developing nations. In most developing countries, citizens are stuck with internet speeds that are comparable to dial up speeds. Providing people from these countries content that is heavily multi-media based won’t work, because they will be unable to access it. Instead, by being flexible with your content format – such as by offering multiple versions of every content (this includes high-quality videos, low-quality videos, audios, text transcripts, etc.), and by being flexible with your delivery mechanism (on-site, email, etc.), you will be able to ensure that the maximum number of people get access to your content regardless of their internet connectivity challenges.

2. Account For Censorship In Countries With More Restrictive Policies

With international expansion comes international challenges. When you’re tailoring your content to an international audience, it is important to realize that you’d have to deal with unique challenges – kinds we are not very familiar with in the West. One such challenge is that of censorship; in a lot of developing countries, or even in some developed countries – especially in Asia, censorship is a big issue; the government is very involved in what citizens can access, and this especially concerns what information their citizens can consume and learn.

As a result, you should prepare for the possibility that your content, or even access to your entire site, will be censored. In this case, you have to ensure a number of options to get your content across to users even if access to your site is censored by their government. These are:

  • Don’t simply rely on on-site content delivery.
    Make it easy to access, or even download, your content in email. If you’re worried about your content getting into unauthorized hands, you can protect it with password that is associated with the particular user you’re sending the content to.
  • Encourage the use of VPNs.
    With the exception of a few countries that have blocked VPN access, most users should be able to bypass internet censorship and access your course content. Many might not know how to, though, so you might want to show them how; either by creating a tutorial and recommending a VPN provider, or by pointing them to sites like The Best VPN that are dedicated to doing just that.
  • Make use of CDNs and mirror content delivery sites.
    This way, even if access is blocked to your main site, users are not completely locked out.

3. Consider Localization Of Your Content

Another thing you want to look at is localization of your content. Depending on the country/continent you are targeting, delivering your content in English won’t help you reach mass appeal. For example, while delivering content in English might work for most African countries, you need to consider localization if you want to achieve mass appeal in most Asian countries.

So, when you notice that you’re starting to get a lot of attention in a particular country where communication, including formal, is done in their local language, you should consider localization. Also, for countries that speak mainly English but where you plan to have a huge user-base, localize.

4. Consider Time Zone Differences

This is especially important if your eLearning program is not self-paced. Say, for example, you’re a school that run lectures starting 9AM EST, and require all students be in attendance. 9AM EST is all good for someone in Florida, except it is exactly 9PM for someone in China, making it practically impossible to access your lectures. The solution to this is to either self-pace your content, or consider time zone differences when planning your content schedule.

5. Ensure That Your Content Is Mobile-Friendly

Finally, you need to ensure your content is tailored to a mobile audience. While it might be easy to hop on a laptop or desktop computer in the U.K. or in a country like Germany, it won’t be as easy in a country like Nigeria where the majority of the internet users are on mobile devices. Indeed the number of mobile-only internet users is more than that of desktop-only internet users, but the proportion of mobile-only internet users in developing countries is much higher. To ensure your content is fully accessible to an international audience, it should be mobile-optimized.

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