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Last updated: 08.08.18

Using PESTLE to deliver impactful international e-Learning content.

PESTLE analysis is a way of measuring factors which impact a product or business before it goes to market. At Virtual College it is used as part of our customer consultation and delivery process and is considered throughout the creation of our e-Learning content. Introduced nearly 50 years ago by Harvard Business School professor Francis Aguilar, PESTLE stands for: Political, Economical, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental.

At Virtual College, our experience working in different countries and within different cultures means we can successfully tailor content to suit local needs, whether that means using different language, adapting course content or taking into consideration PESTLE factors. Many factors influence the design of our e-Learning content right through to the delivery and the considerations that are taken into account when delivering a project into different markets.

This article discusses how PESTLE is taken in to consideration when developing e-Learning content for our international clients or when an existing client is looking to expand internationally.


Virtual College recently undertook a large project creating military courseware for a client in the Middle East. Political issues surrounding disputed territory meant that any maps, which were drawn, could not include Israel on them. Being aware of international political issues helps us guide the way in creating suitable content and keeps projects to time and budget.


Economic factors are also important to consider. For example, GDPR recently came into effect - which meant all businesses had to be more transparent with how they store and share customer data. As it is a European piece of legislation, it affected all our customers within the European Union and all changes had to be implemented by May 25th. At Virtual College, we sent out an email asking people to re-subscribe if they were happy to continue receiving our information. In addition to this, we created free resources and an ‘Essentials of GDPR’ Course to help share knowledge on what the changes meant and how to implement them.


Socio-cultural factors affect what content our courses can include. For our bespoke project in the Middle East, the representation of people was of utmost importance. Due to cultural sensitivities, we were not permitted to show any women and all faces were drawn as silhouettes in course content.
Even something as seemingly simple as creating a food hygiene course for Burma has thrown up unique challenges! The pictures of the food had to be relevant to the learners, as there is no point showing images of food which would be unrecognisable to a Burmese chef. Therefore, we had to localise our content to suit the learners.


We also need to think about the devices being used by learners to take courses. We are currently working with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and have been advised that the courses will only be taken on PCs. This information is important; as we often need to create our course content for a range of devices such as iPads or mobile phones and make sure, they are optimised for the best learner experience.


Legal factors also dictate how our e-Learning content is developed. Changes in law mean our content has to be regularly updated and this is the same in international contexts.

For example, our Food Safety and Hygiene courses are developed differently according to local laws, as the way in which we can prepare and handle food differs across the world. In America, chickens are commonly washed with chlorine, however this is banned under EU Law. Any course content regarding food and drink is changed to reflect the local law of the country it is developed for.


Environmental factors also affect how course content is delivered and developed. When we work with clients we use our Learning Management System to deliver content which reduces our carbon footprint and paper waste. As an e-Learning company we are aware of our carbon footprint and take pride in offering e-Learning solutions to avoid the need to travel to training centres. We also encourage our clients to be more conscious of their carbon footprint. Our practices reflect this, for example, upon completion of a course we offer a digital certificate as standard although there is the option of a printed one.

We also like to raise awareness of key issues around sustainability and environmental impact business practices have. For example, in our recent Food and Drink campaign, we identified these challenges as part of the Millennial generation and how they will ‘vote with their wallets’ i.e. they will not spend any money with a restaurant or a food manufacturer who has a high degree of food wastage – they may even rate this accordingly on to Trip Advisor - if your business is a restaurant, this can negatively impact your brand reputation. Our marketing campaign has been introduced to help change behaviour and instil best practice around environmental issues. For more detail on this article please click here

In conclusion

Working in a global market brings many challenges, but also many exciting opportunities. Our content development team and project delivery team have over 20 years’ experience working across many diverse cultures, to help deliver learner focused outcomes, which align with organisational goals. Get in touch with us to discuss you learning and development strategy at