It's no secret that a one-size-fits-all approach to training strategy is a remnant of a bygone era. Attempting to implement a training strategy for different learning styles is complex enough. But what about in an online course, where learners from different countries, cultures, language abilities and time zones are brought into the same setting?
Cultural diversity is an important consideration in forming instructional and design strategies for online learning. eLearn Magazine reported that "students from Western cultures, for example, are more apt to view the instructor as a facilitator, rather than non-Western students whose cultural norm is to view the instructor as more authoritative."
There is little doubt cultural background has an impact on the overall online learning experience. Keeping that in mind when crafting a training strategy will pay dividends; your learners will be more motivated and engaged—and they'll likely perform better.
How to make online learning culturally inclusive
There are a few rules of thumb that educational professionals should remember when planning a course curriculum, or teaching a class, such as:
- Beware of idiomatic language use. Idioms and slang cause confusion, potentially even among native English speaking learners. How might you respond if someone called you a "dogsbody?" Would you know what someone was talking about if they described something as "fair dinkum?" Keep discussion language literal to avoid unnecessary language barriers.
- Create culturally relevant courses. This concept was brought to life in 1994 by the educational researcher and theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings. The idea is that students would be more engaged in coursework if cultural diversity was viewed as an asset that adds value and perspective instead of an obstacle.
- Be aware of your own implicit biases. You may be cognizant of the need to be culturally inclusive, but you may be harboring an internalized, unconscious bias. In fact, according to the Kirwan Institute, we all have implicit biases—but they don't have to be permanent. Instructors need to reflect openly and honestly, and make efforts to correct any cultural biases.
Inclusion through technology
There is another aspect that should be top of mind when considering how to make a training strategy more culturally inclusive, and that is by ensuring that your online learning is accessible through the mobile phone.
In the U.S., you'd be forgiven for thinking that everyone has an iPhone, as Apple dominates the smartphone market, according to CEOWorld Magazine. But outside the U.S., it's an altogether different story. Globally, people are twice as likely to use an Android OS phone than an iPhone, calculated StatCounter.
This means that an LMS platform should have the ability to operate on any version of any operating system of any kind of phone. And for true penetration into any online learning market, an ideal mobile learning app should be one that follows the learner wherever they are—online or offline.
Scaling is key
Finally, how does one take all these elements, assemble them in an LMS and make the whole endeavor a successful undertaking? Well, in a word, scale. The training strategy you deploy has to be able to scale to meet the needs of a global, multicultural learner base.
Some ways to meet these needs include the ability to conform to dd/mm/year or mm/dd/year depending on the dating convention common to the region, being able to expand your content libraries to ensure you have content that applies to your different regions, providing customizable dashboards that filter relevant content, and of course, offering learners 24/7 support in their preferred language.
To learn more about how Absorb LMS speaks to all learners everywhere, contact a representative today.