1. Know Your Audience.
This is rule #1 of communication. I have a short questionnaire that I use when talking to clients about training, so that I have a good idea of who the learners are and what needs they might have. In addition to the usual logistics questions of location, quantity, and timing, I ask these questions:
- How familiar are the learners with the topic? Will everyone have similar levels of knowledge? What are their job titles and years of experience in the field?
- What are the learners’ native languages, cultures, and English fluency levels in both written and oral communication?
- What technology and tools do they have available to support their participation? (high-speed Internet, VOIP, web cam, etc.) What will their physical learning environment be?
- For live sessions, what time zone are the learners in?
- What key points do you want to be sure that I cover in the course? What corporate procedures do I need to know about with regard to the course material? What common issues are the learners having that you want me to address?
- What does a typical training day look like for your team? What are their expectations for breaks? (For online lessons, I break the course into multiple sessions if it’s going to take more than 2 hours.)
- Are there any accessibility requirements I need to accommodate? If so, what are they and what do I need to provide?
2. Be Explicit in Your Expectations.
3. Make Technology Work for You.
4. Use Culturally Appropriate Examples.
Learners come to us with different learning styles, as well as different cultures. By involving all the senses, you can improve your learners’ success rate. I usually provide learners with a workbook where they can take notes, review the material, access the glossary, and find the exercises. With virtual classroom lessons, I usually record each lesson and assign homework, to ensure that students get the full benefit, even if they have connection problems.
Most of the exercises provided are group exercises because teaching each other helps to reinforce the material as well. However, if you are working with a hierarchical culture and have a mix of supervisors and employees in the class, group exercises can backfire, Work with your client to determine the best method for your class.
When training multiculturally, perhaps the most important thing is to keep an open mind and to have enough self-awareness that you can rise above your own cultural biases and expectations. Check your assumptions at the door, and have fun getting to know your learners.
Creating a true global virtual classroom does not just happen - it takes planning, training, and understanding from all members of the training delivery team. And understanding from the learners: this is new to all of us, and we can all learn from each other.
An extra bonus - learning to teach in a global environment helps you to become a more informed global contributor. This is the future of work, and you may just be ahead of the curve. Jennifer Hofmann. 2014
Blog: 4 Keys to Designing for the Global Virtual Classroom More tips on how to make virtual classrooms global classrooms.
Website: Find out more about taking your training global by visiting Kit's blog at Pangea Papers.