Magazine article Talent Development

A Harder Focus on the Global Classroom: The Global Virtual Classroom Requires Learning Delivery That Is Free of Cultural Cliches and Abundant with Options for Every Scenario. Five Important Practices Can Help Facilitators and Designers Zoom in on What Works

Magazine article Talent Development

A Harder Focus on the Global Classroom: The Global Virtual Classroom Requires Learning Delivery That Is Free of Cultural Cliches and Abundant with Options for Every Scenario. Five Important Practices Can Help Facilitators and Designers Zoom in on What Works

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Imagine yourself in a virtual classroom. The instructor puts an image of a game of cricket on the screen and says, "Sometimes dealing with pressures at work may feel like a game of 20/20 limited cricket, where you are chasing a score of 220 and it's the last over. You have the best fast bowler to face and only one wicket in hand!" If you are an American, the analogy to cricket would probably fall flat. You wouldn't know what the instructor was talking about.

Or, take another scenario: You want to take work-related training offered in a virtual classroom, but it's offered only on weekends because you work in a country in which the official work week is not Monday through Friday (the case in many parts of the Middle East).

Either of these scenarios would leave learners feeling excluded and thinking that virtual classroom training is not going to meet their needs. But when virtual classroom training includes global participants, these kinds of scenarios happen all the time. So when you prepare for a global audience as a facilitator or designer, you need to think globally about every aspect of the training from the learner perspective, and make adjustments geared to those perspectives. Following are five key areas to consider.

1. Logistics

When you select the time and date for the training, keep in mind time zones, national holidays, and the official work week. First, determine the location of your participants, then create a table with start time and end time to see if you can complete your training during work hours for all participants. The more global locations you need to include, the more complicated the time and date selection becomes. Your table may reveal that you may need to deliver the same training twice to reach participants who are widely dispersed around the world.

Next, use websites such as qppstudio.net to check for national holidays. You'll want to confirm if the local office observes the national holiday (for example, Martin Luther King Day in the United States: Some organizations observe it and others do not). Finally, confirm the official work week for participants since it's not Monday through Friday for the entire world. In parts of the Middle East, for example, the weekend begins on Thursday or Friday.

2. Content

In a physical classroom, you can easily spot cultural misunderstanding--quizzical looks staring back at you--and be able to quickly clarify. However, since the facilitator cannot make eye contact with participants in the virtual classroom, it's critical to comb through your materials and adjust or remove culturally inappropriate content or examples. References to sports, politics, television shows, and pop culture don't always have meaning across cultures.

Next, review the images in your slides and other digital materials to ensure that they suit the global audience. Finally, if your slides include images of people, ask yourself if they reflect the cultures represented by your audience. If not, make adjustments as necessary.

3. Learning styles

An exciting aspect of a global audience is the diversity in the virtual classroom. Keep in mind that people raised and educated in different parts of the world will come to your virtual classroom with a variety of learning styles and perceptions about what is expected of the instructor and the participant. …

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