Cross-Cultural Learning Objects (XCLOs)

Cross-Cultural Learning Objects (XCLOs)

Andrea L. Edmundson (eWorld Learning, Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-503-2.ch502


“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.
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Technically, a learning object (LO) is a simple unit of instruction designed to achieve a specific learning objective. A variety of learning objects can be designed to achieve the same objective, allowing instructional designers to choose activities based on the demographics of learners, media, environments, and so forth. When one speaks of learning objects today, it is usually in the context of e-learning because LOs are digital and designed to be reusable (reusable learning objects or RLOs), which is accomplished by designing them to meet established standards for a specific data format, such as Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and Aviation (all encompassing) Industry Computer-Based Training (CBT) Committee (AICC) (Wikipedia, 2007). A simple definition of an RLO is “[a] self-contained piece of learning material with an associated learning objective, which could be of any size and in a range of media” (Crawley, 2006).

NETg (2003) defines [RLOs] by three components that must be present: the object must have a measurable objective, it must have an activity that exactly matches this objective, and it must have an assessment. Wiley (2000) defines a learning object as “any digital resource that can be reused to support learning.” Extensive databases, such as the Multimedia Educational Research for Learning and Online Teaching [MERLOT] (MERLOT, 2006), have been created to house these RLOs created by educators and to make them available to other educators.

The extensive coverage of reusable learning objects on Web sites such as (Reusable Learning Project, 2005-2005) and Eduworks (2001-2005) are examples of how RLOs have grown in popularity and sophistication.

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