Cases on Globalized and Culturally Appropriate E-Learning: Challenges and Solutions

Cases on Globalized and Culturally Appropriate E-Learning: Challenges and Solutions

Andrea Edmundson (eWorld Learning, USA)
Indexed In: SCOPUS View 3 More Indices
Release Date: March, 2011|Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 408
ISBN13: 9781615209897|ISBN10: 1615209891|EISBN13: 9781615209903|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-989-7


E-learning is a cultural artifact and thus, is embedded with the cultural preferences, learning styles, and values of the designing culture, usually western. Yet, the largest and fastest growing groups of learners are in eastern cultures. Cultural differences should not create barriers to learning, understanding, skill development, or the time and effort it takes to acquire them.

Cases on Globalized and Culturally Appropriate E-Learning: Challenges and Solutions offers a multitude of cases illustrating the different challenges faced when offering e-learning to learners of other cultures and, most importantly, how they were resolved. This cutting-edge publication shares contemporary knowledge on how to adapt or develop e-learning that promotes equitable learning outcomes for targeted learners by addressing interdependent disciplines. It is a must-have reference source for organizations with an outsourced workforce, global trainers, educators, and faculty, instructional designers and e-learning developers, translation and localization experts, international development agencies, open courseware advocates, and promoters of reusable learning objects.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Challenges of Localization
  • Challenges of Translation
  • Cultural Dimensions and E-learning
  • Culturally Customized User Interfaces
  • Culturally Variable Content
  • High vs. Low Context Communication
  • Modularization Using Cross-Cultural Learning Objects (XCLOs)
  • Modularization Using Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs)
  • Open Courseware
  • Solutions to Creating Culturally Accessible E-learning

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Educators – including teachers, trainers, courseware developers, and instructional designers - are recognizing that culture matters! It matters in training, in the formal classroom, and in e-learning. In fact, the information and experiences offered in this book are relevant in any of these environments. However, in face-to-face environments, the learners’ feedback, attitudes, reactions, and behaviors provide many clues that a course may not fit with their cultural preferences. Learners may become quiet, offended, unwilling to participate in an activity, and so forth. In this face-to-face situation, the instructor or trainer receives immediate feedback and, subsequently, can adapt content or instructional strategies immediately. However, in e-learning, especially self-paced courses, such clues are missing. In fact, unless a learner reports back to you, or you have a system for tracking learner success across cultures, you may never know if your course was culturally appropriate or not, or if cultural differences impeded learning. Thus, the designers and developers of e-learning are challenged with recognizing cultural differences and adapting courses to learners’ cultural preferences before the course is actually produced or published.

But, why care? First, research has shown that people learn best in their native language and in a relevant cultural context. Second, content accuracy varies by location. In addition, we can alienate learners with culturally inappropriate content or images. We can also hinder effective learning by not providing culturally acceptable ways to learn.

So, how do we do create culturally appropriate e-learning? When I published my first book, Globalized e-learning: Cultural Challenges (2007), very few research studies had been conducted on the impact of culture on learning. The studies I compiled contained extremely useful information, but practitioners found it difficult to implement the proposed solutions. In addition, the solutions arose from research, not from field practice…We lacked the business perspective of how to provide e-learning to multicultural and multinational workforces.

This book is a strong step towards making research available to practitioners and making researchers aware of practitioner challenges. It is a ‘handshake’ between academics and corporate practitioners! In the first section of the book, we present ten case studies conducted in global academic environments, but whose results have very practical applications to corporate and educational e-learning. The researchers’ “lessons learned” provide valuable guidelines to other academics, global organizations, and companies that develop e-learning courseware for international consumption.

In the second section, we offer three corporate case studies that show how corporate organizations have adapted to the changing needs of the multinational learner and the globalized workforce. Their “lessons learned” serve to indicate future research needs for academics and what not to do for fellow courseware designers and developers.

Throughout the book, we have dispersed more than 50 mini-cases that illustrate cultural differences in humor, environment, technology, learning styles, and so forth. When I placed the call for proposals, I received so many emails stating that “I don’t have a full case study, but you’ll love this story,” that I broadened the scope of the book to include these mini-cases. These are actual events and they complement the corporate and academic cases.

Lastly, we included the book by providing five resource chapters to guide e-learning practitioners in the processes and techniques necessary to create culturally appropriate and accessible e-learning. Our hope is that these will inform organizations as to what needs to be done to e-learning courseware before money is spent on delivery or production. I then conclude with a summary that refers back to the theme, Culture Matters!

In addition to the book itself, we have also developed support materials for instructors, so if your role is to educate others on how to make training and education more global, we highly recommend you use this well-organized instructors’ resource.

Thank you for reading this book. As the editor, I often mount my soapbox for culturally appropriate instructional design. To date, it has been a struggle to convince training and education providers that culture matters; however, I hope that, with this book, I am at least facilitating the progression towards more culturally appropriate e-learning.


Dr. Andrea Edmundson, CPLP
Global Learning Strategist, eWorld Learning, Inc. President, the Global e-learning Community

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Andrea Edmundson, CPLP is the Global Learning Strategist and CEO of eWorldLearning, Inc., ( She is an expert in designing culturally appropriate training courses and materials (online or in classroom) in order to increase their effectiveness in other cultures and countries. She created the research-based Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) Model, a unique process that helps instructional designers to align courses – content, instructional approach, and multimedia - to the cultural characteristics and preferences of targeted learners. She also founded the Global eLearning Community, an online membership association for professionals whose work encompasses culture, learning, and technology. She authored the pioneering book, Globalized eLearning Cultural Challenges (2007) and introduced the concept of Cross-Cultural Learning Objects (XCLOs). Dr. Edmundson served 3 terms as President of the American Society for Training and Development (Greater Tucson Chapter). She teaches graduate courses on distance learning and educational technology for several online universities. During her 25-year career in training and development, she has provided training courses - in the classroom and online - in 30+ countries for thousands of learners.