Technology has broadened the reach of organizations, allowing them to easily connect with employees, partners and customers on a global scale. As a result, eLearning has become the preferred method for corporate learning and development (L&D). Not only is eLearning a more convenient and cost-effective methodology and delivery method for a dispersed workforce, it also offers the opportunity to provide learners with a more personalized training experience.
But training a global workforce doesn’t come without its difficulties. Here, we’ll discuss some of those difficulties and how localizing your eLearning programs is an essential element to creating engaging training experiences for all employees.
Challenges of Training a Global Workforce
One of the biggest L&D challenges for global organizations is that training is often developed in the West for English speakers and, all too easily, it can overlook subtle differences across cultures and nuances in language, says José Miguel González Mediero, social learning solutions consultant and eLearning expert for RWS.
“The learning style, the approach to training and the examples tend to be initially created by development and creative teams for an audience that is very close to them culturally, linguistically and geographically. And translation and localization processes can’t always resolve those gaps,” he says.
When it comes to the development of training content that’s intended for a global audience, translation and localization shouldn’t be an afterthought if the objective is to create an effective learning experience for all audiences. Everything from the graphics and imagery incorporated in the modules to the placement of text must be considered, right from the initial stages of content development.
Another common hurdle when globalizing eLearning is the technology itself. There are markets where internet bandwidth may be limited, or software incompatibility issues may arise due to the country’s infrastructure. “Often organizations go to great lengths to create localized training that can’t be delivered effectively to the learner,” González Mediero says.
When you prepare for these obstacles from the onset, you can take account of the needs of each intended market, then build and adapt as necessary to ensure your content reaches its intended audience and resonates with learners.
How eLearning Can Improve the Global Training Experience
eLearning is an effective way to get results when delivering training to markets around the globe. It’s a delivery method that can serve the best interests of the business and, at the same time, can cater to the individual needs of the learner.
Let’s explore the many benefits of eLearning for a global workforce and how it can improve the training experience.
1. It extends your reach.
Online training programs can easily be delivered across the globe without having to factor in time zones or travel time. “We all love those on-site events once or twice a year, but for some organizations it’s just not feasible,” González Mediero shares. “Having localized digital modules makes it easier for organizations to reach every corner of the globe, giving all learners the same opportunities.”
Localization enables organizations to quickly convert their eLearning to other languages versus the time and resources it would take to create regionally specific face-to-face, on-site training. And it ensures that programs are culturally appropriate for each market, which can enhance learner engagement and content relevancy.
2. It’s convenient and cost effective.
Compared to traditional instructor-led training, eLearning is on demand and reduces the cost of instructors and materials. Having courses that can be assigned as-needed, rather than waiting for in-person opportunities, also saves on the expense associated with coordinating and traveling to these events (e.g., flights, speakers, accommodations, etc.).
It also allows employees to take learning into their own hands and seek out training as needed. González Mediero says that perhaps the most important benefits to the learner are “the self-paced elements, taking the training when it fits your daily schedule, the ability to do it at your own pace and to do refresher sessions as needed.” Whether employees are in Singapore or New York, the training will be available when they need it.
3. It’s flexible.
Beyond the on-demand convenience, eLearning also provides learners with more choice, as it is adaptable to their individual needs and offers a variety of delivery methods such as role-based learning, visual aids, gamification, virtual reality (VR) and other approaches. Likewise, it makes it easier for organizations to modify content for their various markets, delivering training in the way that’s the best fit for them. For global audiences, this is essential because different cultures have different learning preferences.
4. It can be delivered at speed and scale.
To keep pace with the ever-changing world of work, L&D needs to adapt quickly to reach its audience effectively, especially when that audience is global. With eLearning, training professionals can modify modules to reflect new industry knowledge and incorporate new content, updating learners in real time, not months down the road.
5. It makes learning consistent.
eLearning can provide learners around the world with a more consistent training experience. Subtle nuances in language and cultural differences can be addressed through localization, ensuring the message delivers the same meaning, regardless of where the audience is located. Translation and localization technologies can enable organizations to deliver consistent messaging every time, saving and storing language styles for future content.
González Mediero adds that eLearning offers more consistency than traditional training because “more stakeholders and subject matter experts are able to validate and review the content, making it easier to get feedback and update the training.” This can streamline content updates and improve the quality of the content.
6. It’s equitable.
Acknowledging diverse cultural, linguistic and regional differences makes for a more equitable learning experience, and eLearning makes it easier to account for these factors on a global scale.
When delivering L&D globally, every element of your training program needs to be considered: videos, idioms, acronyms, imagery, voiceovers. “These are all things that have to be considered when you’re creating training for a global workforce,” González Mediero says. “What may be taboo in some markets may be common in others and used as normal by the development team.”
The ability to modify delivery methods or repeat lessons also makes eLearning more accessible and accommodating for the learner. Delivering training through localized eLearning that caters to a diverse global population is an effective way to make your L&D equitable for all.
Training a global workforce is challenging. What works in one language and region may not work in another. Organizations must be thoughtful in how they approach training to create a consistent and effective learning experience for all employees.
Globalizing eLearning through localization enables organizations to deliver multilingual, multicultural content at scale — quickly and cost effectively. It also gives employees a flexible, equitable learning experience, making for more effective training. Localized eLearning allows organizations to meet the demands of a global workforce in a way that makes the most business sense.
To learn more about creating better global eLearning experiences, please visit rws.com/elearning.