​What Makes a Successful International E-Learning Project?

7th December 2015

What Makes a Successful International E-Learning Project?

“An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action is the ultimate competitive advantage”, so said former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch.

Beyond KnowledgeThis in a nutshell is what L&D is all about.

Having restored its reputation since the dark days of the early 2000’s where it almost exclusively focused on the technology, e-learning today sits comfortably alongside other L&D delivery methods as a highly effective and popular tool. The need to squeeze every drop of value out of training while ensuring staff remain productive has only gone to solidify this comeback.

Now is no time for complacency, however.  Over the last couple of years, I have come across enough examples of organisations where the e-learning implementation hasn’t worked and drawn some conclusions as to what the key elements are behind e-learning success.

I would separate these into the following areas: the user experience, localisation, communication, and how to deal effectively with resistance.

What Makes a Successful International E-Learning Project?

User Experience

Firstly, e-learning programmes need to be attractive. This might sound superficial but there’s nothing worse for the user today than passive and turgid e-learning scripts where the only interactive user involvement is pressing the next button. Take a look at the average user manual for a new computer or piece of software and you will know what I mean.

It’s up to us as L&D professionals to make the user experience more attractive, engaging and easier on the eye. With technology and design so clearly able to deliver on this front, there’s really no excuse for it and yet there are a surprising large number of programmes which fall at this first hurdle.


Secondly, there is localisation. I am constantly amazed at how many global organisations tend to roll-out ‘one size fits all’ e-learning programmes. This is about much more than just the language. Employees across the globe learn differently and this should be reflected in the packages. For example, there are some cultures that typically tend to be more visual learners, focusing on the software and the graphics, whereas other cultures are more interested in the different ways of navigating the module. While culture should not trump each user’s individual learning style (hence the need for flexibility in the modules), e-learning should still try and reflect the different elements of a corporate culture.


Thirdly, there is communication. If organisations gave as much thought to marketing e-learning programmes internally as they do to launching new products externally, then the e-learning success rate would rise dramatically.

Proper communication plans need to be put in place, and internal champions need to be mobilised who can explain to others the importance of the e-learning strategy. These sponsors should be conversant with the technology rather than choosing individuals who are more comfortable with traditional classroom methods of teaching. They need to be able to explain the all important: Why and How? Why it will help employees with their career and progression and how it can be accessed – often through other technology-based tools, such as learning portals.

Look also for opportunities to place e-learning as a component of other strategic initiatives, such as performance and appraisal systems or professional certification requirements, and communicate accordingly.

Even with good communications, however, there will always be some kind of resistance from time to time. The best advice I can give here is recognise and anticipate such roadblocks and put in place your procedures for dealing with them.

For example, if a user says that the e-learning is of no help to him or her, work with their line manager to see how it can add value or introduce more customised tools. For those who say they just don’t have enough time, look to break down the modules into even smaller chunks. And for those who say that it’s not relevant, make sure it aligns even more with the skills required for that person and the departmental goals.


And the final way of meeting resistance is to continue to listen as closely as possible to the end user. This is why we at Cegos commission conduct so many surveys with our last being published in the summer which focused on Training and Development in Europe.

This survey asked both end-users and training managers if they believe training within their company is becoming increasingly digitalised, with 84% agreeing this was the case.

To view this survey in full, please use the following link


“You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know and when they need to know it”, so said Seymour Papert, one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence.

With the need for cost effectiveness, flexibility and productivity in L&D, e-learning is in pole position to realise this vision.  It’s up to us to make sure that e-learning delivers on this through successful nternational E-learning projects.