The GEC Blog

Culture + Adult Learning + Technology

Seeking your cultural stories!

If you were educated outside of the United States, what was it like the first time you took a course in the U.S.? What was different? What was confusing? What did you like or dislike? We’d like to hear stories from non-U.S. learners!

October 4, 2013 Posted by | Culture and How We Learn | 3 Comments

Webinar: “What are the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for driving the effective development of global e-learning projects?”

Webinar: “What are the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for driving the effective development of global e-learning projects?” Thursday, Sept. 19. See the “Events” tab at

This webinar introduces a model that captures those CSFs and offers practical approaches for building e-learning across cultures. In this webinar, Dr. Edward Nathan examines management approaches global organizations should consider when developing e-learning for global use. It recognizes e-learning in the global environment is not simply an issue of instructional design, but a strategic management approach that must take into account the cultural dimensions and technology constraints global organizations need to manage in order to develop and successfully implement global e-learning initiatives.

In the meantime, enjoy an HSBC video about cultural differences:

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Join the conversation – What IS a cultural difference?

I posted two videos on the Global eLearning Community website ( In the first one, learners from different countries described the challenges they faced the first time they took an American course. In the second video, they made suggestions as to what would have made learning easier for them as non-Americans.

I asked colleagues on LinkedIn to give me their input. To my somewhat surprise, some of them felt that the challenges expressed by these learners were common across America and were likely not cultural at all.

I invite you to join the conversation on LinkedIn!

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Culture and How We Learn | Leave a comment

Graphic design…who are you trying to impress?

eWorldLearning Business Card

I asked several global colleagues to comment on several business card designs, one of which was multicolored, contained my photo, and had a few tag lines for marketing purposes. I found the response from my German colleague, Rita, to be quite interesting…

[Dear Andrea],
As to your business cards…What should I say? What I see is unfortunately not to my liking…
Does it mean that I am adapted to German mono-colored (mostly white/black) quite simple-looking B-cards with simple design – without any photos, pictures (only a logo), with no (or minimized – a slogan) texts, giving only essential information (such as name, business address…)?

I also asked, “Do Germans tend to give their card to everyone they meet? Or after they’ve developed a relationship?”

[Dear Andrea],
When you take part in some workshop/seminar/congress, it’s a must to take plenty of your b-cards with to ensure that full details of your background, qualifications, titles, and tel, email, Skype are given. You have little time to develop a relationship, so in case you’ve had a small talk and found somebody interesting, you ask for his/her b-card. A general rule: Small talk—–B-card (mostly with a question: May I have your B-card?)

Rita then supplied me with this information and these examples:

This is a trend – Firm’s logo, white and black, who, where, to be contacted via phone, e-mail, etc. The Germans are practical and direkt. Nothing extra. (“Oh, he/she is sooooooooo creative!” – does an engineer or a doctor need it?)

But – to compare:
Creativity has its say but for those who are in creative branches-web designers, graphic designers, photographers, etc. In a designer forum, a young media-designer is discussing his b-card idea and is being critisized for having used his photo (“are you a designer or a hair-dresser?”)

That’s why I was unprepared to accept the variant proposed to you by your designer.

What do YOU think of graphic versus textual business card designs?

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Country-Specific Information | Leave a comment

From a GEC colleague, Toni Hando

Dear Andrea,
I went to Japan to teach English and noticed that sometimes my lesson plans did not go over the way I expected. Eventually I found out that I was asking students to do things they were not expecting in a class. As an American I expect students to give me their opinion and speak out in class. I am using Hofstede’s Model of Cultural Dimensions as a tool to explore our own cultural background. I have had a few ‘Deer in the headlight’ moments from my students. Especially when I have asked them to give me their opinion. I had a Japanese friend, a fellow student in my undergraduate courses, ask me where she could find her opinion. At first I thought it was a vocabulary problem, but then I found out that they are not asked to give opinions and challenge the teacher.

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Country-Specific Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Until July 31, 2013 – Free membership in the GEC

Venn-Diagram-FINAL-for web

If you are truly interested in how culture affects adult learning, especially in the online environment, go to the Global eLearning Community (GEC) home page ( and look for “Last Chance.”  Starting August 1, 2013, we will be charging for membership in the organization.  Until then, you can still join free.  Follow the instructions on the website, especially the part about submitting the Biography Form.  I hope you’ll join us: We are strongly pursuing the move towards being a globally recognized professional association.  Regards, Andrea

Dr. Andrea Edmundson, GEC President

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Announcements | Leave a comment

Business in Brazil

I am in Brazil for almost a week to work with Affero, a Brazilian company that specializes in corporate training. We are working together on a globalization project. I have to say, I am excited to be involved in Brazilian business, for many reasons. First and foremost are the Brazilians themselves: Hardworking and extremely creative but even better – so warm and relaxed and hospitable. It seems like businesses here really embrace the notion of creativity and innovation without making it a ‘campaign’ like U.S. businesses do. It just seems to come naturally. From my perspective, U.S. businesses restrict their own creativity and innovation simply by the many rules (social or corporate) that they use in business. To be creative in the U.S., you almost need someone’s permission! Here in Brazil, creativity flows naturally and with enthusiasm. In my opinion, if a business has to install measures to generate creativity and innovation, it is already lacking the culture to do so.

As to the business of elearning, I have seen more exciting ideas here in one day than I have from a month of U.S. exposure! Really! I am not a technologist (I focus on strategy and cultural adaptation), but I’ve seen technologies being used at Affero – combined with their creative approach to instructional design – that show me how Brazil IS already a leader in corporate training and elearning.

Lastly, this Brazilian company immediately understood the value of cultural adaptation of instructional design. Yes, I am biased, but in the U.S., I spend an inordinate amount of time convincing businesses that this is important. Here, they already know it and ACT. I am looking forward to a long and productive association with Affero and Brazil – but especially with the people!

February 5, 2012 Posted by | Country-Specific Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

When it comes to culture, why are people so stubborn?

People pay me to analyze their training and elearning and then make it more culturally appropriate, yet…they hesitate to adopt my recommendations!  Sometimes, it’s too late for them to make changes, but more often, it’s a refusal to recognize that these changes really do affect how people learn, how well they receive the course, and how successful the learning event is.

How can I overcome this cultural blindness that doesn’t allow people to realize that others ARE different and thus, prefer to learn differently?

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Cultural Blindness | , , | 2 Comments

Hello world!

I’ve decided to kick-off the New Year with a blog for the Global eLearning Community.  I invite you to post responses to my comments about my experiences, work, and research.  Any comment I post is just the beginning of a new discussion!

I want to hear from YOU about your experiences, so that the WORLD can better understand that people from different cultures learn and teach differently and, to be effective, we need to adapt our mindset and approaches to other learning preferences and styles.

Regards, Andrea

Dr. Andrea Edmundson, CPLP and President of the GEC

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Announcements | 1 Comment