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Cross Cultural E-learning for Global Audience

Written By Mandal Mohan Rao

Cross Cultural E-learning for Global Audience

No doubt, the advent of globalization has enabled various companies to reap rich dividends from the non-domestic markets. In 2011, the world’s Fortune 500 pulled an average of 40% of their revenues from non-domestic markets. But such benefits in terms of economic growth and increased revenues are achieved by overcoming various challenges.

One such challenge for globalized organizations, which carry out operations across multiple locations worldwide, is training of their local employees. But why training of globally dispersed employees is looked upon as a difficult task? Well! it can be mainly due to cultural variations among employees working in multiple locations. According to David Kolb’s (an American educational theorist) one research activity, culture affects the way people learn. In such situation, how can you train/manage your multicultural employees and make them share common organizational vision and values so that they contribute towards achieving the same organizational goals?

Here, you need to make your current training program more effective by considering cross cultural aspect so that you can address different learning styles and preferences of global employees. In this regard, an effective methodology like eLearning can be used for providing consistent cross-cultural training. Here, you need to consider a few of the essential points given below to make training course effective in the area of cross cultural training:

Translating courses in native languages

Organizations need to get their courses translated into multiple languages of the world so that training can be delivered to their large number of employees in multiple locations across the world. In our own conducted research study (covers experiences and perceptions of 94 stakeholders from different industries across 33 countries), 59% respondents indicated that multi-language eLearning is important to their organizations. In fact, 85% of them had already translated their eLearning courses into nearly 10 different languages.

The research also allowed us to know that English, Spanish and French were popular languages into which eLearning courses were translated. About 34% of respondents revealed that their primary e-learning course was in a language other than English.

Making courses cultural neutral

Courses in English language need to be first customized and made culture neutral by considering cultural aspects relating to particular country before actually translating them into different native languages. Here, the sensitivity and preference with respect to images, colors, gestures, pictures, symbols, gender issues and graphics need to be looked upon carefully. For example a ‘symbol’ which is treated lucky in one country may remind people about sorrow in other country. A picture showing women with open hair may be acceptable in western countries, whereas the same picture may not be liked in Middle East countries.

According to our above mentioned research 86% of respondents have expressed they first made their English e-learning courses culture neutral before translating them into other languages after validating their own methods. Development of customized online training modules in this way can greatly help organizations to manage their multicultural workforce.

Thus we have seen how culture is an important aspect in peoples’ life. And hence, organizations need to provide cross cultural training to their global workforce to streamline their globalized operations. Do you find cross cultural training significant for the unification of culture among multiple business locations? Please do share your views. We would appreciate your response.

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