Thanks to technology that allows companies to hire remote workers from anywhere in the world, diversity in the workplace is growing.
In fact, according to one study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23% of employees surveyed reported doing some of their work remotely, and 60% of remote workers in the survey said that if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position.
But handling a team from all over the globe can place a strain on companies when training these employees. You have to account for things like language barriers and cultural differences.
eLearning is the perfect tool for remote training, but how much personalization can it really handle when it comes to diversity?
The answer is quite a bit, thanks in part to tools like geolocation that allow you to assign specific resources to physical locations. Here’s how it works…
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What Is Geolocation?
Geolocation is a term for technology that can pinpoint a location. It’s frequently used in mobile apps and games to help identify nearby places or people, but it can also be used in eLearning.
It allows you to create different course materials that can be delivered to various locations based on a target audience.
For example, if you had teams working out of California and Hong Kong, you could automatically send training materials with different languages, symbols, images, and cultural references to each location.
Being able to target workers in this way will also allow you to improve comprehension, retention, and engagement for your entire workforce.
How to Use Geolocation in eLearning
So how exactly do you use geolocation in your training materials? There are a few ways to do it depending on the needs of your organization.
1. Personalized Course Templates
As mentioned earlier, geolocation allows you to deliver different course materials to workers based on their physical location. Some eLearning authority tools will let you design region-specific templates that adjust automatically based on learner’s point of access.
These templates also save you time in course development for diverse audiences, as you can change the things that need to be changed (time, symbols, images, etc.) without having to develop entirely separate courses for each region.
2. Location-based Gamification
Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. In eLearning, this can include things like mobile games or scenarios that help learners practice real life situations.
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Geolocation can be used alongside gamification to create immersive simulations for users to aid in learning. For example, learners could be required to travel to a specific location (like the sales floor) to unlock more materials or get to the “next level” of the lesson (think Pokémon Go).
While this is perhaps more complex than most eLearning courses require, it can be a fun and engaging way to help learners familiarize themselves with their work environment while problem solving.
3. Interactive Tours
If you wanted to leave out the complications of gamification, you can still use geolocation to help workers (especially new ones) find their way around the workspace.
For example, when they step into the stockroom, an app could automatically open with relevant compliance materials for safety protocols.
You could also use geolocation to create virtual tours of workspaces so new employees can learn about different areas of the building before they start working, or even tour the spaces of their co-workers halfway across the world.
4. “Moment of Need” Support
There may come a time when an employee will require access to training materials in a moment of need. Maybe they are new to a certain task and need to reference something on the go, or perhaps they will need to help a customer looking for a specific product.
Geolocation can be used for these “moment of need” tasks to do things like identify products in a warehouse, identify price changes, alert workers to changes in policies, and give access to region-specific training materials or tutorials.
Archived modules, for example, can be geo-tagged for specific workers, positions, or locations around the world. This can be helpful for both new and current employees that will handle high-pressure situations and/or need access to specific information relatively quickly.
5. Non-Universal Training Needs
Geolocation can also help in situations where certain regional teams will need to follow different laws, regulations or policies than other teams.
Through geolocation technology, you can segment training modules so that regional workers have access to only the information that’s meaningful to them. This not only saves time in moment of need situations, but can also reduce overall training time and improve engagement.
Safety notifications or changes in policies can also be sent using geolocation to alert workers of immediate danger or changes in their workplace while keeping the rest of your locations and teams happily on schedule.
Keep in mind that geolocation is still a new technology, and there may be changes to the way it’s applied to eLearning in the future.
That being said, exploring the power of geolocation in your current eLearning modules can open up more doors for training opportunities for remote (and local) workers. Keep in mind that it may not be ideal for every training module.
It may also require your workers and staff to embrace the use of mobile technology in the workplace, like cellphones or tablets, which may not be practical for every industry.
The use of geolocation will also require more attention on localization practices for modules, like finding alternative images for different regions, understanding symbols, language differences, and cultural references. (We’ve written about that here and here).
It’s important to remember to plan for these things before implementing geolocation technology so that you don’t have to redo coursework later on.
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Geolocation can be a great tool for aiding companies that are looking to expand their workforce to far off places. Because technology is advancing, allowing for more remote workers and teams in a variety of fields, workplace training (and eLearning) will need to grow, too.
The easiest and most cost effective use of geolocation will most likely be in creating templates for modules that can automatically add, remove, or change information based on location, or to help employees access moment of need support.
Above and beyond that, geolocation can be used creatively to enhance training through virtual tours, location-based resources, and other forms of gamification.