Digital learning? Digitales lernen? Apprendimento digitale? Whatever you call it, it’s safe to say the world of digital learning is truly global in nature.
Operating across three continents, Omniplex has a uniquely global insight into the world of learning. In my presentation at our eLearning Community relaunch I discussed the global perspective of digital learning. Touching on key factors such as aesthetic, geographical, socio-political and cultural differences in eLearning across the globe, and I wanted to share some of insights with you now:
Good design can lend value to a digital learning project by boosting the impact of the content, making it easier for learners to interact and retain information. The digital aspects of aesthetics and design are not limited to images or graphics displayed on a screen, instead, include methods of deliberately arranging elements to appeal to the emotions of the learner.
Aesthetics of a digital learning course can differ from one nation to another. For example, in China, digital learning courses feature much busier screens, compared to the content on a slide in courses for a UK audience. The courses designed for a Chinese audience are also brighter and feature fast, loud music, mirroring the high-paced living that they lead.
In digital learning, one of the key factors that geography really took an advantage of was the speed of adoption. Countries like Australia and Scandinavia benefitted from its early implementation and now have an advanced market in digital learning proportionate to their population.
According to research, the digital learning market in Australia is projected to surpass $7Bn by 2024. Technological advancements, eager learners, wider internet access and increasing penetration of smart devices has made digital learning an increasingly viable option for learning and career development in Australia. The need for user-friendly, secure and convenient methods to learn is rising, thereby further fuelling growth in the Australian digital learning industry.
‘The great fire wall of China’ has a huge influence on digital learning in the region. Despite investing heavily in internal infrastructure, China has a chequered history with global internet connectivity. Any website, internet service and software that isn’t hosted in China must go through the government run fire wall. This makes providing a digital learning experience significantly more difficult, since the learning materials must be hosted in the appropriate country and must meet local regulations.
In addition, many western social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all banned in China. Instead, the Chinese rely on using the app WeChat. WeChat has a monthly user base of over 1 billion people. But it offers so much more than messaging, allowing its users to do everything from payments to the ability to book flights and hotels. With the increasing usage of mobile phones in our daily lives, these super apps, such as WeChat is likely the future and the key to connecting with learners.
Global companies mean global learners. It is important to acknowledge that not all learners are the same; they are influenced by cultural factors.
There are many factors companies should be aware of, in order to develop culturally appropriate courses:
- Language – Not all languages read left to right. Languages using Arabic script are read right to left. This affects both text and graphics. For example, flow charts and graphs that show progression will need to be flipped around. Prepare your content for localisation. Try to eliminate any idioms, similes, or metaphors, as they are often culturally specific. The same applies for slang or jargon; they may not make sense to other learners across different cultures.
- Colour – Colours have different religious or political significances across cultures. For example, white is the colour of mourning in Nigeria, China and India. Green is a symbol of luck and prosperity in the western countries. However, in the Islamic culture, green is the sacred colour, as it is the colour of the prophet Muhammad.
- Graphics and Images – Not all symbols are universal; for example, the “thumbs up” gesture means “good to go” or “I understand” here in the UK, but it is insulting in the Middle East. Knowing who your learners are is extremely important for choosing images in digital learning, especially when content localisation is involved. For example, in China and India, using images that show the soles of your feet is offensive, as the bottom of your feet is considered unclean in these cultures.
I hope this global perspective of digital learning has given you some food for thought. In conclusion, global teams, working collaboratively, can result in extraordinary digital learning, and that is exactly what we aspire to do here at Omniplex.