Beware: Microwave ovens + e-learning = restrictions

One might think that the development of the global education world has no limits at the moment. Education has just begun to become digital, so should then not also all education become global in the end? But it’s not quite that simple. Now it is the microwave oven that instead sets important limits for the e-learning world’s global progress.

Education in languages, history, literature can of course be different in different countries. This is why it does not always have a global market, although such training, like so many others, has now started to become digital. Of course, there is not a large global market for education in, for example, my home language, Swedish.

But mathematics, physics, biology, programming, are similar areas of knowledge wherever you are on the globe – programming languages have even their own, globally standardized, languages. Surely these markets should now also be able to gradually become 100% global?

It is not a coincidence that it is precisely in the field of computer science and business where MOOCs already have big global range.

However, education is a product that is intimately associated with cultural differences, and cultures do not change so quickly, not even by the power of digitalisation. These are differences that we rarely think about, even though we now should.

In addition, it is not just about differences in how we teach.

it is already known, for example, that in some cultures we are more used to “one-way communication”, hence videos, while in other cultures more accustomed “group-based learning”, hence discussion-forums.

White goods companies such as global Haier and Electrolux give a good clue as to what it will really be like in the end. The trick lies in understanding the nuances of the differences between stoves and washing machines and microwave ovens.

In the stove area, these companies have very many different factories, and different stoves, not just different brands, around the world. An important limit to how far that area can be globalized, and thus also streamlined, is set there by the fact that we both eat and cook a little differently around the world.

The companies themselves would probably have liked to have had fewer factories, streamlined far more than they have already managed, but they find it difficult to get all the way through, precisely because of everyone’s unique food and cooking cultures.

France, the bearnaise sauce = need for a small hotplate. Sweden, baking at home = need for a large oven.

Different types of stoves at different places

As long as we don’t start eating and cooking the same way around the world… it will not be possible to streamline the production of stoves much longer than has probably already happened. Sure, at the component level it can be possible, hence also different brands, but final assembly is difficult.

Companies like Haier and Electrolux understand this. They simply understand the limits of efficiency. But that’s not what everyone who works with E-learning do right now.

In the laundry area, on the other hand, these companies have fewer factories than in the stove area – where they have been able to drive the efficiency of manufacturing a few steps further. But an important explanation for this is that the differences around the world for how we wash are not national, rather different depending on continents.

Sweden, as in much of the rest of Europe = likes to wash at 40, or even 60, degrees Celsius. USA = washes at 30 degrees. We simply do not wash as differently in Europe as we eat and cook differently within Europe.

The food and cooking pattern on the globe seems more atomly divided than the washing pattern, you might say.

What are the important differences between stoves and washing-machines here? A reasonable guess is this: that stoves as such have been much longer in history than washing machines – we probably washed by hand longer than we cooked over an open fire.

The stove is probably an older product than the washing machine.

We at the globe have not yet become so global that our food and cooking patterns have changed fundamentally… despite digitalization.

Sure, a lot has happened. Today, not nearly as much potatoes are cooked in my own country as before, pizza and sushi are common, so even takeaways. But so insanely deep into the sources of our cultural heritage, we have not yet come at all.

It’s going to take a long time before cultural things like this change, if ever.

What about the microwave ovens then? Well, there is almost only one factory per continent. And had it not been for the fact that there is so much air to be transported when shipping around microwave ovens, these companies would probably have been able to cope with fewer factories than that.

This is probably because microwave ovens are used in relatively similar ways around the world. It’s also a product we haven’t had on the globe nearly as long as stoves and washing machines – not to mention such a “young product” as the smartphone.

The French and Swedes simply seem to warm up the food from yesterday in a similar way, even though they may eat quite different things and also cook their food in different ways.

The pattern here is: The older a product is, the longer it has “had” to create a specific regional/national/local culturally linked usage pattern.

A similar culture pattern is reasonable to put on the digital education world.

This is also something that can contribute to the explanation of why, for example, programming skills can be roughly similar around the world, while management skills, which superficially perhaps should also be, will not necessarily be fully global in the end.

Such a “simple thing” as any business example that can be considered interesting in a management training can be completely different in different parts of the world – even though some globally successful business examples can work worldwide… Steve Jobs, Amazon, Spotify, Jack Ma, Baidu?

This leaves room for a more “fine-meshed education market” in different places around the world, than one might think from the surface.

All this means concretely: that just because a certain education has worked in one country, and then gone digital, it doesn’t mean that it will also work in other parts of the world… although the field of knowledge itself can be perceived as quite similar around the world.

A 100% digitally connected world doesn’t mean a world that looks exactly the same everywhere.

Don´t misinterpret what a digital world actually means.

It’s simply no more different than that there can certainly be music artists who write songs that almost everyone around the world love… and that at the same time there is room for both local artists as well as important nuance differences in which country just loves which global artist the most.

Share perhaps this post with someone that at this moment is planning to go global with a newly devloped E-learning-course.

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