“Networked virtual organizations outperform competitors by responding more quickly to customers, collaborating better with partners to perform value added activities, and fully standardizing their business processes, data, and IT infrastructure” (Cisco Systems Inc., 2003). Thus, networked and virtual organizations (NVOs) depend heavily on the agility afforded by effective communications, ease of sharing information, and virtual integration of business functions. Such agility however, requires a trained workforce. In keeping with its reliance on technology, NVOs, especially those in the U.S. (Bersin, 2005; Rivera & Paradise, 2006; Sugrue & Rivera, 2005), frequently utilize e-learning as their source of training and education. In e-learning, there is a proliferation of social and collaborative tools, mobile learning, and dynamic computing (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2006). These tools, coupled with the global reach of NVOs, will precipitate unprecedented contact between educators and learners from other cultures. Because e-learning is a cultural artifact—embedded with the nuances of the culture that designs it—e-learning will need to be translated, localized, and adapted in profound ways to suit the needs and preferences of learners in other cultures. Localization addresses obvious visual and textual differences found in other cultures, such as icons, symbols, gestures, and so forth. However, the deeper ramifications of culture, such as what people value, how they learn, solve problems, and so forth, will require approaches that are more sophisticated. Reusable learning objects (RLOs) are “plug and play” chunks of learning materials (content, teaching approaches, and so forth) that allow instructional designers to construct and modify e-learning in an easy, efficient, and effective manner that parallels the agility demanded by NVOs in business functions. RLOs are fast becoming the foundation of rapid e-learning development (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2006). However, cross-cultural learning objects (XCLOs) meet the additional challenge of creating e-learning that accommodates the more profound cultural differences of global learners, such as those generated by different values, national cultural dimensions, and even diverse levels of techno-literacy. This article describes XCLOs in more detail and illustrates how they can be used by NVOs to maintain their requisite agile workforce.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Cultural Artifacts: An instructional design is a cultural artifact. It reflects, often in an inconspicuous or unintentional manner, the values, learning preferences, language, and worldview of the designer (McLoughlin, 1999).
Reusable Learning Objects [RLO]: Reusable learning objects represent an alternative approach to content development. In this approach, content is broken down into chunks. From a pedagogical perspective, each chunk might play a specific role within an instructional design methodology [and can be interchanged and exchanged, depending on the needs or characteristics of the learners] (Eduworks Corporation, 2001-2005).
E-Learning: E-learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning. It is used interchangeably in so many contexts that it is critical to be clear what one means when one speaks of “e-learning” (Wikipedia, 2007). E-learning is a form of distance learning or distance education; however, the latter two are not necessarily e-learning…they could be correspondence courses, and so forth.
MERLOT: The Multimedia Educational Research for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) was built to house RLOs created by educators and to make them available to other educators (“Multimedia educational research for learning and online teaching [merlot],” 2006).
Cross-Cultural Learning Objects [XCLOs]: Cross-cultural learning objects are reusable learning objects used to adapt e-learning for use by multiple cultures, based on the premise that learners in another culture will learn best by having course characteristics and features meet their needs and cultural preferences.
Cultural Dimensions: Cultural dimensions are the mostly psychological dimensions, or value constructs, which can be used to describe a specific culture. These are often used in intercultural communication-/cross-cultural communication-based research. See also Hall (1981), Hofstede (1997), and Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1998). (Wikipedia, 2007).
SCORM: SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. This is a standard for Web-based e-learning. It defines how the individual instruction elements are combined on a technical level and sets conditions for the software needed for using the content (Wikipedia, 2007).
Learning Outcomes: Results that reflect the acquisition of skills and knowledge, such as the effectiveness of instructional techniques, and as students’ perceptions or attitudes (Henderson, 1996).
Learning Objects [LO]: A learning object is a reusable unit of instruction for elearning. In order to use it in different contexts, the presentation has to be separated from the content, which calls for specific data formats. SCORM is such a format (Wikipedia, 2007).
AICC: The Aviation (All Encompassing) Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee [AICC] is an international association of technology-based training professionals. The AICC develops guidelines for aviation industry [that are being adopted by other industries, as well] in the development, delivery, and evaluation of computer based training, Web-based training and related training technologies (Wikipedia, 2007).
Cross-Cultural [XC]: Comparing or dealing with two or more different cultures (Lexico Publishing Group LLC, 2006).
Distance Education or Distance Learning: Distance education, or distance learning, is a field of education that focuses on the pedagogy/andragogy, technology, and instructional systems design that are effectively incorporated in delivering education to students who are not physically “on site” to receive their education. Instead, teachers and students may communicate asynchronously (at times of their own choosing) by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time (synchronously) (Wikipedia, 2007).