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Jan 17, 2017 Kit Brown-Hoekstra

5 Tips for Creating Better Global Virtual Training

Access InSync's complete 2017 “50  Modern Blended Learning Blogs" series here.  Subscribe for daily updates.Global Classrooms Global Learners As trainers, educators and Learning Experience Architects, we depend on establishing a rapport with our learners to create a supportive learning environment.
Encouraging this environment in a multicultural or online setting is more challenging. Both factors add a layer of complexity to the curriculum development.With planning and some research, you can build blended learning and virtual learning campaigns that accommodate multiple cultures and create an effective learning environment that engages all learners, no matter where they are.

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.
Each culture has its own ideas about appropriate learner and facilitator interaction, which will affect each learner’s participation and success in the course. When you are working with a multicultural class, you need to create a culture that balances those different ideas and creates a comfortable learning environment.
Be explicit in your expectations and communication to ensure that everyone understands what their role is and what they need to do to be successful in the course. Take time during the introduction section to outline your expectations. In some cases, you might want to contact each learner beforehand and find out what their needs are.

3. Make Technology Work for You.

Approximately 70% of our communication is non-verbal, so we lose context and social cues when we can’t see each other. Even students who are highly fluent in English do better if they can see you and you can see them. Whenever possible, I use web cams for online training.
Remember that other parts of the world might not have as robust and stable of an infrastructure. If students are dialing into the class, you need to provide a local phone number for them (1-800 numbers only work in the US and Canada), as well as a VOIP option. If internet stability or bandwidth is an issue, consider providing recordings and other self-paced options as well, and identify how you will handle connection issues during the sessions.

4. Use Culturally Appropriate Examples.

When doing training, we rely on examples that show the concepts we are teaching. However, if the example is not culturally relevant, you will confuse or lose students. Cultural relevance can be as simple as making sure that you use metric measurements and job titles instead of Imperial measurements and specific names, or as complex as creating different examples for different groups of students.
In general, avoid sports analogies and idioms. Be careful with graphics that contain hand gestures, animals, or specific people. Use proper terminology, and slow down your speech. As you develop these skills, your cultural intelligence will increase.
5. Provide Multiple Ways to Access the Content.

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

Related resources:

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. 


Published by Kit Brown-Hoekstra January 17, 2017