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International E-Learning Part 1: 5 Challenges When Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In this first part, we’re going to look at the 5 challenges we think you need to consider, and how they can impact on the success of the rollout.

International E-Learning

  1.       Production Preferences

How do you actually produce content that’s going to work across different countries? Each country is different, and the people you deal with from each country will have a variety of specific likes and dislikes – so how far do you let them pick and choose what they want?

Before you begin working on an international e-learning rollout, you need to decide how accommodating you are prepared (and able) to be. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re creating bespoke content for each individual country, as this will not be practical or cost effective.

However, that’s not to say you don’t want to consider a country’s preferences and cultural differences, but it’s about finding a balance that won’t put pressure on production.   

  1.       Cultural Differences

You need to distinguish between objections that arise from personal preferences, and objections that are linked to cultural differences. Vague objections such as “it’s not like that in our market” will need to be explored to gain a better understanding of what is appropriate.

Again, decisions will need to be made about how accommodating you can be. For example, some countries will be adamant that their end users prefer video in their own language, rather than subtitles, but this could mean that production costs spiral out of control.

Demonstrating the benefits of a one-size-fits-all approach will help to ease tension – with an emphasis placed on the way that a centralised process ensures consistent, high-quality content. But remember, failing to recognise the importance of differences in culture between countries may mean that your end users feel disengaged, so make sure that every country-specific objection is carefully considered.

  1.       Translation

Translation can be a major challenge. For example, German text is typically 35% longer than English text, which can pose a problem if your content needs to fit in a set amount of space. So creating a consistent production process for translating e-learning into different languages is crucial.

Ultimately, all translations will be proofed by the country of origin, and then these checks themselves will need to be evaluated – are they asking for terminology changes or preferential changes? The more leeway that’s given, the more processes there are to undertake.

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’.

  1.       Technologies

Rolling out e-learning to multiple countries means catering for a diverse user base, not just in terms of language and culture, but technology too. How do you ensure that you are catering for users accessing the e-learning in different geographical locations with different setups? (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.)

For example, if the e-learning has sizeable media content, this will cause problems for users with low bandwidths. There may be an opportunity to create a ‘no-frills’ version of the e-learning for this type of user, with text summaries of video content and animations. Sizeable media content could then be placed in a separate repository within the UI for them to view if they wish.

However, creating branched versions for different user types can drive up costs, and so it may be more effective to perform an evaluation of potential content prior to production, making decisions about what content is absolutely necessary for the end user.

  1.       Administration

Rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries will require a substantial amount of administration. This could range from setting up the e-learning on the LMS, to tracking and reporting the progress of end users.

Administration may also extend to promoting the completion of the programme, and synchronising the learning with other training.

This amount of administration will undoubtedly be time-consuming should you decide to take it on yourself. And if your e-learning is a compliance box-tick, then you may not have time to remedy any problems experienced by users, or gain a deeper understanding of the actual effectiveness of the e-learning.

These are the five main challenges you will come up against when rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. They may make an international rollout seem daunting, but don’t feel apprehensive…in Part 2, we’ll explore how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful roll out across multiple countries.

Got to International E-Learning Part 2 >

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