10 Instructional Design Tips for Global Elearning Courses

December 8, 2022
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With eLearning, one size does not fit all. Instructional design can be complicated at the best of times. But, when you introduce the technological complexities of eLearning, course design can become even more challenging.
As a global company, you also need to consider the extra challenges that arise when you need your eLearning programs to serve multiple international markets. Different countries, regions, and cultures can have different preferences when it comes to learning online.
When your business operates around the world, it's important that your eLearning initiatives can be easily localized for foreign markets.
With the right approach to eLearning instructional design, you can more easily ensure that all your employees, customers, and partners have access to the same high-quality training materials and resources.
Here are 10 tips for effective instructional design for global eLearning courses…

1. Be streamlined: Use the right tools for eLearning content creation

A tried and tested way to aid an efficient course design is by using the right eLearning authoring tools.
There are many good authoring tools available, but only some help you streamline the process of localization.
Your eLearning authoring tool should provide you with a range of features, design options, and templates. It should also support the creation of eLearning courses for multiple devices and provide localization support.
Using the right authoring will save you time and make it easier to create global eLearning courses.

2. Be "boring": Use repeated elements where possible

It can be tempting to try to "keep your eLearning course interesting" by adding more varied elements throughout. However, it's a bad idea to add variety for the sake of it, especially when you will localize your eLearning courses.
Using repeating elements helps to speed up both the design and the localization process. It reduces the amount of engineering work associated with localizing your content and helps ensure that learners have the same learning experience, no matter what language they are using.
Elements that you could repeat include course templates, slide designs, introduction text, icons, video templates, and many more.
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3. Be spacious: Use whitespace to aid learning and localization

Whitespace is an essential — and often overlooked — part of instructional design. It can separate elements on a page, make information easier for learners to digest, and eliminate resizing issues when translating the content.
Many learning designers agree that the whitespace around your content is just as important as the learning content itself. Space is valuable, as it helps learners to understand which information is critical and which isn't.
When you are creating global eLearning courses, whitespace is important during translation.
Some languages take up more space than others. If you don't account for this with extra whitespace, the design may end up looking cramped or crowded when it's translated. You would then need to spend time re-engineering the course to rectify this.

4. Be consistent: Keep consistent elements and language throughout

Consistency is key when you are creating eLearning courses that can scale globally.
It's important to ensure that all your courses follow the same design guidelines, regardless of the culture or language of the learners. This can include using consistent colors, fonts, iconography, and imagery.
Using consistent elements and design also helps to create a unified look for your eLearning courses. This makes it easier for your learners to understand and navigate the courses. Consistency also reduces the time and engineering needed to redesign each course if you need to update it later.

5. Be simple: Keep content simple and easy to understand

"Keep it simple" is a key philosophy in all instructional design…
But it is especially important when you will localize your eLearning courses.
It's important to focus on the essentials by keeping your learning content as simple and straightforward as possible. Simplifying your content also makes it easier to localize it for different markets.
By keeping text concise and unambiguous, you reduce both the likelihood of misunderstandings or error, and the cost of translation. Simplicity can also help to create a more engaging learning experience by ensuring your courses focus on teaching key concepts rather than long-winded or irrelevant information.

6. Be inclusive: Create learning experiences that work for everyone

When you are designing eLearning courses for a global audience, it's important to ensure that the content and experience is applicable and relatable to as many people as possible.
Different cultures can have very different cultural backgrounds and even styles of learning. A learner's culture can affect, for example, their learning style, active participation, and willingness to provide feedback. When you are designing an eLearning course, it's both in your interests and those of your learners that you design learning content that doesn't require excessive adaptation to suit the different requirements of each market.
By creating courses that are inclusive to all your learners, you create a more engaging learning experience that is more consistent across your markets. You can also save time, budget, and effort that would otherwise be required to adapt your courses for each market.

7. Be strategic: Identify your eLearning goals and objectives

Before you begin any global eLearning project, it's important to take time to clearly define your overall goals and objectives. This will help you create a strategy for success by ensuring you are focusing on the right eLearning content and the right global markets.
According to The Instructional Design Company "every course and training program should have at least one goal." With localized courses, you will probably have at least 2 goals: the learning goal of the original course and a localization goal, which is to make the course accessible and digestible for different markets.
Once you have clear objectives in mind, use them as a roadmap when designing your global eLearning courses. This will help ensure that each element of your course is focused on meeting these objectives.

8. Be sparing: Use media and interactive elements with purpose

Multimedia and interactive elements can help make your eLearning courses more engaging, but they can add extra cost and complexity when you are localizing your content. Overusing media elements can also overwhelm your learners and make it difficult for them to focus on the key concepts of your course.
Use media and interactivity strategically. Carefully select which elements you will include in your eLearning course and consider how this will affect localization.
Talk with your translation provider if you are uncertain how easy a particular element will be to localize at scale. We often help our clients to simplify their source content to reduce the cost of translation and engineering needed to localize media elements without negatively impacting the learner experience.
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9. Be accurate: Solicit feedback to ensure courses work for learners

Quality assurance is critical for global eLearning courses. When working with multiple languages, it is important to make sure that the translations are accurate and the content works properly and effectively in all language versions.
Work with your translation provider to design a quality assurance process that is tailored to your specific content creation workflow and eLearning needs.
It's important to have the content tested by native speakers before publishing your eLearning so you can identify and remedy any issues. Testing should also involve both linguistic and functional testing, such as making sure that localized links work and that the navigation elements are intuitive in all languages.
By putting quality assurance at the forefront of your development process, you can ensure that your global eLearning course works for learners in every region.

10. Be global: Consider international learners from the start

The best way to create a successful global eLearning is to have a solid understanding of your international audiences before you even begin creating the course material. This means talking to the people in your different markets and getting their input as to which approaches will be most successful right from the inception phase.
By carefully considering your global audience from the start, you can create successful eLearning courses that engage and inspire learners around the world.
With the right design processes, tools, and translation partner, you can create high-quality learning experiences that help grow your business globally.
For even more tips on how to streamline your eLearning localization, download our free eBook Best Practices for Online Learning Localization

Best Practices for Online Learning Localization

In this report, we share our best practices for writing, designing, and translating high-quality online learning material cost-effectively. Technology advances have made it easier than ever to create high-quality online learning courses, but translating instructional content can still be prohibitively expensive if it is not authored with localization in mind.