International and Cultural Content Design


Kirk St.Amant
Louisiana Tech University and University of Limerick


Online Courses

International and Cultural Content Design

7-28 August 2018 (Tuesdays) | Asynchronous


Today’s interconnected global economy means almost all of us are – or will be – engaged in some sort of international project or process.  What skills do technical communicators need to succeed in this international business context?  This course will focus on answering this question by examining the dynamics technical communicators need to understand to work effectively in a range of international situations – from creating content for audiences from other cultures to working in international project teams.


This four-week course provides attendees with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to effectively understand and address different international situations and settings.  Through a focus on cognition, culture and usability and design, the class teaches approaches for identifying factors affecting the perceptions, expectations, and uses of materials in different national and cultural contexts.  The class also teaches students different techniques for addressing such findings to and develop more effective – and usable – materials for audiences in these settings.

A Connection to Professional Practice (The Takeaways for Attendees)

An understanding of culture and communication expectations is fundamental to a range of technical and professional communication activities – from content creation and text translation to effective product design and participation in international project teams.  For these reasons, the class will discuss different ideas in terms of how they connect to or can inform different technical and professional communication practices. The goal is to provide attendees with the foundational knowledge and skills they can apply to different professional practices.  Specifically, attendees will gain a foundational understanding of how to:

  • Create and design content – both textual and visual – for different national and cultural audiences
  • Collaborate with professionals in the translation and localization industries to develop and adapt content for different national and cultural audiences
  • Identify variables affecting the use of different media formats for sharing content with audiences from different nations and cultures
  • Research the communication needs, preferences, and expectations of individuals from different nations and cultures
  • Participate in on-site and online teams comprised of individuals from or located in different nations and cultures

Each of these items can serve as a skill attendees can use to contribute value to a range of international activities within a variety of organizations – from corporate to governmental to educational.

Session Descriptions

This week will cover the following:

  • Attendees will examine how culture affects communication needs, expectations, and preferences.
  • Central theories in used to examine and understand culture and communication.
  • Different approaches for applying these theories to professional communication contexts.

This week will cover the following:

  • Understanding the uses of text and visuals to convey information in international contexts.
  • Identifying linguistic and visual communication factors affecting international communication.
  • Using different strategies to work with translators, localizers, and other professionals to design content for international audiences.

This week will cover the following:

  • Exploring how different national contexts affect usability expectations and practices in international settings.
  • Research and design strategies to identify and address such factors affecting usability.

This week will cover the following:

  • Reviewing how cultural, economic, technological, and legal factors can affect the uses of different media to interact with international audiences.
  • Approaches to understanding and addressing these media usage expectations when creating content for audiences in other nations and of other cultures.


Kirk St.Amant is a Professor and the Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair in Technical Communication at Louisiana Tech University (USA) and is also an Adjunct Professor of International Health and Medical Communication with the University of Limerick (Ireland).  Kirk has worked on international projects for companies such as Medtronic, VERITAS Software, the Braun Corporation, and Unisys, and for the non-profit Humanitarian Demining Information Center (HDIC) and the Consortium for the Enhancement of Ukrainian Management Education (CEUME). Kirk is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), and he has taught online and on-site courses in culture and communication for a number of universities in the United States as well as universities in Belize, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Ukraine.  He currently serves on the editorial board for the STC journal Technical Communication, is the vice-chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)’s Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (SIGDOC), and he is a past president of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC)

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