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Navigating the Global Training Terrain: New Literacies, Competencies, and Practices

The twenty-first century has been characterized by rapid transformation-technological, social, cultural, environmental, economic, and scientific. In this changing milieu, organizations and individuals must continually acquire new knowledge and abilities or be left behind. Influential entities such as the United Nations strongly advocate the pursuit of lifelong learning for individuals, while leading companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations seek to become what scholars such as Peter Senge have called "learning organizations" that can transform themselves through the learning of their members at all levels.

Training, or the structured development of skills, competencies, and up-to-date knowledge, is an increasingly important element in these pursuits. The shape of training may vary-formal or informal, face-to-face or technologically mediated, short-term or long-term-but the end purpose is always the same: to facilitate learning by individuals or groups, usually with the larger purpose of enhancing organizational quality.

Training is vital to the success of globally connected organizations and individuals, but success requires the trainers' effective bridging of linguistic, cultural, and social distances. Only teams and individuals with facility in navigating diverse languages, cultures, technologies, educational practices, and rhetorical traditions will be able to successfully provide training to global audiences.

Professional communicators, whose discipline claims expertise in several areas relevant to training-including oral, written, and visual rhetoric, usability, information architecture, electronic collaboration, intercultural communication, and collaboration with translators-are well positioned to contribute to global training efforts or take on the role of trainers themselves. Yet, despite these advantages, the pool of research...