eLearning Translation

Engage international learners with e-learning translation

E-learning or learning through an electronic medium such as the web or a mobile app has become all-pervasive. Whether it’s training for your internal staff, or a massive online open course (MOOC) for continued education, or product demo videos, e-learning is relevant in all these and more situations. And, with growing internet connectivity, the demand for online learning comes from people who speak many languages. E-learning courses need to be translated and localized to make them relevant and accessible to your learners from all over the world. While translation refers to converting the text from one language to another, localization refers to tailoring the training modules to the locale of the learner.

What is this service exactly?

Types of e-learning content you should translate

Types of e-learning content you should translate

Industry sectors that make use of e-learning localization

Industry sectors that make use of e-learning localization

Services that make up e-learning translation

Services that make up e-learning translation

Creating and delivering localized training resources with different tech solutions

Creating and delivering localized training resources with different tech solutions

E-learning content comes in many shapes and sizes, depending on the industry, the course content, and the learning community. Below we list popular e-learning content types that are translated to increase their international reach:

SCORM-compliant courses: SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. It refers to a set of technical standards that ensure e-learning courses are programmed in such a way that they will work with any learning management system (LMS). Typically for such courses, once the translation is done and approved, it is made SCORM-compliant and delivered to the client.

Extensible markup language (XML)-based training programs: XML-based distance learning courses are a popular form of web-based instruction. They allow you to cater to diverse audiences who are usually multilingual.

Certification programs: As the online classroom becomes more viable, remote learning is taking off like never before. Professionals are signing up for continuous learning programs. Many universities, including Ivy League institutions, are offering free as well as full degree programs online. The demand for these programs comes from not only North America, but also Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Classroom-based instruction material: These are usually add-ons to the curriculum rather than the main tool to deliver the curriculum. They may consist of videos, software, or other Internet-based resources.

PowerPoint presentations and webinars: They are often used to train staff in the workplace either on new products, upgrades, or for orienting new staff. As workforces become global, these too need to be translated.

Audio scripts: Audio narration is frequently used in training to provide a rich learning experience and hold the learner’s attention. Voice-overs or subtitles  are usually used to translate audio scripts.

Video-based learning: Online courses from the likes of Coursera, Lynda.com, and Khan Academy are often entirely build on video. These platforms aim to provide the highest quality education to the greatest number of people, hence making it inevitable for them to think beyond English.

Assessments/exams: It’s not just the training modules, but also the tests and questionnaires that have to be translated and localized, keeping in mind cultural differences.

Virtual learning has found acceptance in almost every domain. We list below industry sectors that have high demand for localized e-learning and mobile learning (m-learning) programs:

Manufacturing: Employers expect staff to have multiple skills. Hence, e-learning provides a cost-effective alternative to on-site training by reducing travel and trainer costs. It’s also advantageous to the staff as they get to upskill and be current with industry guidelines.

Education/Training: As mentioned earlier in this article, the education sector is going through some serious globalization. Universities and colleges have realized they can tap into the global student community if they translate their courses and make them available to aspirational students from around the world.

Healthcare: Courses ranging from healthcare administration to nutrition to disease management are now available online. Offering the course in more languages increases not only the reach but also the revenue potential. Companies use e-learning to keep employees’ certifications up-to-date and train patients and medical personnel on new products.

Banking/Financial services: This is another sector where heavy compliance training is required. Hence, banking and finance companies must make sure their training material is available to their employees on their mobile phones, notebooks, as well as in their languages.

What we call “e-learning translation” is not actually one service, but a bouquet of multiple processes that your language service provider (LSP) brings together to deliver an enjoyable in-language experience. These processes are:

Localization: Learners from one locale may have very specific requirements. For instance, in the Middle East, training modules must not only be translated but also every item in the module must be re-oriented right-to-left instead of left-to-right. Themes or motifs used in the narrative must be relevant in different geographies. Once,  an e-learning company based in India created an educational aid for school children using a mosquito in the narrative. It made no sense to the children, however, as they lived in a European country where most of them had never seen a mosquito.

Translation: This refers to the actual conversion of text to another language. It’s however more than merely replacing words from one language with words from another. It involves the use of tools such as translation memory and terminology management which goes toward quality improvement, higher productivity, and faster translation.

Transcription: Online training material more often than not has audio and video components. To enable their translation, the narration must first be transcribed. Transcription enhances learning and makes it accessible to the hearing impaired. Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven transcription can be much faster and accurate. Sometimes, the output may need some human editing, which is called as post-editing. The AI system continually learns from such changes and this improves quality over time.

Subtitling: Transcripts are translated to create subtitles in the users’ languages. They may be hard-coded into the video module (open captioning) or made available as a separate file (closed captioning). Closed captioning (CC) is an option that viewers can turn off or on as they wish. It’s usually available on online streaming courses. Open captioning forms a part of the compliance requirements to ensure accessibility for the hearing impaired, but it does benefit all students.

Voice overs: It is a popular choice in translating audio and video training content, especially in courses where there happens to be a lot of on-screen text. The voice over needs to match the tone, style, and production quality of the original file to make it sound authentic and engage the learner. If the original voice is conversational and the voice over is more authoritative, it may be jarring. Once voice overs are done, developers embed the file into the module and check for quality as well as compatibility issues.

Quality assessment (QA): After all or any of the above services are utilized to render an e-learning course in another language, a thorough QA is done for various types of errors such as if culture-specific signs or colors have been left intact, if the voice over does not sync with the scenes, or if interactive forms may have broken because of too little space to accommodate the foreign language font. Several rounds of QA are required to make sure the learning material is linguistically, culturally, and technically sound.

Your LSP will use many software solutions and online platforms to create, edit, and package a localized e-learning course.

  • Learning management systems create and deliver e-learning content irrespective of geography. Popular LMSes are Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, Lectora, Moodle, and many others. However, there is great variety available in LMSes depending on your industry, whether cloud-based or not, open source or commercial, and so on. When designing courses for international audiences, it’s important to select an LMS that supports the languages and locales you wish to target.
  • XML, Flash, HTML5, and Microsoft PowerPoint are other tools that can be either used to create entire e-learning courses or introduce interactive elements in them.
  • Page design and publishing software such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress are used to create training collaterals such as resource guides. Adobe Illustrator is used to create illustrations, sketches, logos, typography, etc.
  • Robohelp is yet another software from the Adobe stable that helps in creating online documentation and help guides.

The demand for personalized, in-language training is set to boom as professionals ramp up their skills, companies train a global workforce, and students learn from the comfort of their homes. Translation and localization set you up for success in a world where learning is continuous and digital.

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