IDI Qualifying Seminar or Facilitating Intercultural Learning?

Mar 07, 2023

I’m often asked how the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program compares to another popular professional development opportunity in the intercultural field, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualifying Seminar. Many educators I talk with are wondering which program is the better fit for their needs, or would like to do both but want advice on which to do first. This post is intended to answer these questions. I’ll first provide an overview of each program, highlight some key differences and similarities, and wrap up by discussing the question of order.

In full transparency, I want to make clear how I am involved with both these trainings. Facilitating Intercultural Learning is a professional development program I created and offer through my own company, True North Intercultural. IDI Qualifying Seminars are offered by IDI, LLC. I have been a part of their contracted team of Qualifying Seminar Instructors since 2021.

Overview of the Two Programs

The IDI Qualifying Seminar

The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is one of the most widely-used tools for assessing intercultural competence. In order to be certified to use the IDI, you must attend a Qualifying Seminar (through which you become an IDI Qualified Administrator). The primary purpose of the IDI Qualifying Seminars, according to IDI, LLC’s website, is for participants to “gain proficiency in using the IDI for increasing intercultural competence for individuals, teams, and organizations.”

Format:  Currently, Seminars are typically three half days (4.5 hours each day) of synchronous online learning, with some asynchronous pre-work.

Audience:  IDI Qualifying Seminars are geared toward professionals in any field—from education to non-profits, government, the corporate sector, and consultants—wanting to use the IDI.

The Facilitating Intercultural Learning Program

  Facilitating Intercultural Learning is a professional development program for higher education faculty and staff that helps you: (1) develop your own intercultural competence, and (2) learn how to design and facilitate intercultural learning, so that you can be a more inclusive educator and integrate intercultural learning into your courses, programming, or other work. 

Format:  Facilitating Intercultural Learning is a twelve-week, cohort-based online learning experience. It takes a flipped-classroom approach, combining both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Audience:  Facilitating Intercultural Learning was created specifically for faculty, staff, and others working in or around higher education. The program also attracts and can be appropriate for others who want to develop their capacity to facilitate intercultural learning, such as K-12 educators, consultants, and people involved in training or teaching and learning in other sectors.

Key Differences

Differences in Purpose

One of the most important distinctions between the two trainings is the difference in purpose or learning objectives. The primary purpose of the IDI Qualifying Seminar is to train you to administer the IDI assessment and debrief the results with individuals and groups ethically and appropriately. Qualifying Seminars focus on teaching you about the model that the assessment is based on and how to utilize the tool. If you or your organization would like to use the IDI assessment tool, participating in an IDI Qualifying Seminar is a must.

IDI Qualifying Seminars are not designed to be an intercultural training for participants, nor do they train participants how to facilitate intercultural development beyond administering and debriefing the IDI. Facilitating Intercultural Learning, on the other hand, is intended to help participants both (1) develop their own intercultural competence, and (2) learn how to design and facilitate intercultural learning experiences.

Differences in Format

Regarding the format, both trainings are online (I don’t use the word “virtual” because the learning is very real), but that’s where the similarity ends. The IDI Qualifying Seminar is an intensive, engaging three-day learning experience. There is also some pre-work and you are expected to continue your learning and development on your own after the training, but the training itself lasts just three days. Public Seminars usually have around 50 participants. The training grows increasingly experiential over the course of the three days, and you have the opportunity to connect and learn with a handful of other participants through several small-group breakout room activities.

As mentioned previously, Facilitating Intercultural Learning is a twelve-week, cohort-based learning experience that combines asynchronous and synchronous learning. The training is intentionally spread over twelve weeks to give you time to engage in activities, reflect, and apply what you’re learning. It includes nine online training modules, delivered asynchronously one per week over the course of the twelve weeks (a few weeks have no new module; this is done to accommodate participants’ busy lives). Each module includes video tutorials, intercultural activities, and reflective worksheets.

The program also includes a weekly group coaching call for the cohort following each module (except weeks when there are is no module to review). The group coaching calls serve as a space to dive deeper into the materials, connect what you’re learning to your personal and professional experiences, ask and answer questions, and discuss how to integrate what you’re learning into your work. Cohorts are typically capped at 20 educators, so participants get to know one another and form a supportive learning community.

Key Similarities

Both the IDI Qualifying Seminar and Facilitating Intercultural Learning are great professional development opportunities for people interested in intercultural teaching and learning. Both approach intercultural learning as a developmental process.

IDI Assessment and Debrief Included in Both

Participants in both programs take the IDI and receive a one-on-one debrief. In the IDI Qualifying Seminar, participants debrief one another as the culminating learning activity. So you are debriefed by someone who, like you, is brand new to using the IDI. In Facilitating Intercultural Learning, you participate in an hour-long individual debrief with someone (usually me) with years of experience as an IDI Qualified Administrator.

Both Offer Public and Private Training Options

Another similarity between the IDI Qualifying Seminar and Facilitating Intercultural Learning that may or may not be important to you is that both offer public and private training options. Individuals or small groups can sign up for either training’s public offerings. If you have a larger group from your institution or organization that would like to participate in either of these trainings, private sessions are available as well. To explore the possibility of a private cohort of Facilitating Intercultural Learning for your group, click here to schedule a call with me. For information on private IDI Qualifying Seminars, click here.

Which One First?

As I mentioned earlier, many educators I talk with would like to participate in both trainings, and are wondering which to do first. Of course, the answer to which first depends somewhat on your circumstances.

If your institution wants to get started using the IDI—or is already using the IDI and needs more IDI Qualified Administrators—it probably makes the most sense to prioritize that training. Just be aware that the IDI Qualifying Seminar will not teach you how to facilitate intercultural development beyond administering and debriefing the IDI. That’s where Facilitating Intercultural Learning comes in; it’s also why many IDI Qualified Administrators join Facilitating Intercultural Learning.

If you’re not in a hurry to start using the IDI immediately, I would probably suggest participating in Facilitating Intercultural Learning first, and not just because it’s my program. In Facilitating Intercultural Learning, you’ll get a solid introduction to the Intercultural Development Continuum—the model on which the IDI is based—as well as take the IDI and get an individual debrief. This provides an important foundation that will help you make the most of the IDI Qualifying Seminar when you do it. In addition, through Facilitating Intercultural Learning, you’ll further your own intercultural development and learn how to integrate intercultural learning into your work as an educator so you can help others develop along the intercultural continuum.


These two trainings are highly complementary and both very useful for educators interested in intercultural teaching and learning. However, they are also quite different, most notably in their purpose, but also in format. By highlighting some of the key differences and similarities, I hope I’ve shed some light on which might be the best fit—or best order—for you.

>> Additional Related Reading <<
Common Misconceptions about the Intercultural Development Inventory

Photo credit:  Robert Anasch, Unsplash

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