One of the biggest challenges for multilingual and multinational companies is the development of their staff's skills equally and with high quality everywhere. They want to guarantee the same premises for work performance for all employees. Developing the skills of the staff is a natural part of their engagement and expertise. At the same time, the company is strengthening its position for the future.
Elearning has unquestionably claimed its place in training large target groups. Its strength is also the fact that it’s easy to adapt to different languages. If a company has done an excellent elearning implementation in its main language, there is no need to prepare completely new training for different languages, because the elearning can be localized.
In this blog, we will discuss the benefits of elearning localization while giving some tips for localizing online training.
Benefits of elearning localization
We love to work in our own language. The same goes for learning. We learn better and are more motivated to learn when the training is in our native language. There is no need for an extra internal stage where we would have to process the information from a foreign language into our own. Studying in our own language is simply more efficient.
Therefore, the localization of elearning is already worthwhile because it provides better learning results. Of course, in some cases compromises have to be made in terms of language selection. If the company has offices in all the Nordic countries but only a handful of employees in each country are in the target group, English may be the most appropriate compromise.
In addition to better learning results, localization is also cost efficient. If online training is implemented separately in each country, it also ties up a large amount of resources in each country. Thus, localizing well tried elearning into different languages saves time and money.
By localizing elearning, you can also ensure that training is consistent and uniform in quality across all target countries. Elearning's strength is content updateability which is, of course, also reflected in localization. Training materials are easy to keep up to date with centralized management, and localization is easier when you know exactly what is being updated.
A great example of implementing elearning through localization is Oras, whose successful Faucet school training concept was digitalized and localized into several languages helping it reach a much wider target audience. Elearning also solved the challenges that location bound training has. Watch a client video here. Training through elearning can also be used to implement a company's ethical principles, as was the case with Kemira. Read more in the customer case here.
Thus, localizing elearning can reach large target groups and train them in their own language.
What is needed for successful elearning localization
The best thing for localization is that it has already been taken into account when designing the original training. When different language versions are required, the content of the training can be selected so that the training flows equally well and is user-friendly in all languages.
In principle, it's possible to localize elearning in almost all cases. If the original work files are very old, technical compatibility may be an issue. What is more important than the files is, of course, whether the content of the training is still relevant and usable.
The target group has to be known in order for the localization to be successful. As with the original elearning, the target group of the target country needs to be known in order for the localized content to be interesting to the new target group. Is the training targeted at the entire staff of the unit abroad or only at a specific department? This is reflected, for example, in the tone of voice used in the training. If the target group is limited, a certain type of terminology may be used to better address the group.
Another advantage of being systematic is that the content of the training can be selected in such a way that expressions, pictures or videos that are perceived as problematic or disturbing in other cultures do not slip into the training materials. Being systematic reduces the need for post editing the learning content which would require resources.
Six tips for localizing elearning
Many of the same principles apply to both video localization and elearning localization. As with video, elearning content often combines audiovisual elements with video and text. Read our blog article on video localization here. Also, in localization of elearning the most important thing is to adapt the existing content to the new target group. The difference, however, is that elearning is often a much more interactive user experience when learning is the goal.
Flexibility of the content production system for different language versions
Localization should be taken into consideration already when selecting a suitable content production system. Not all systems support language versions. The system should have a function for exporting the online training as a file for localization. This saves time and effort when training is going to be localized into a new language. With the export function, you don't have to extract texts from the training material for translation using the cut and paste method. A good example of a content production system that supports localization is Storyline.
Original training completed before localization
It is a good idea to start localization only after the initial elearning is fully completed. This avoids unnecessary rounds of editing and review. Practically all the content of the training must be screened for translatable texts. For example, images, buttons and video may have text in them. When localizing the content, it is necessary to decide whether the texts that may appear in videos or images are relevant to the goal of the training and need to be translated. If the localization is started before the original training content is completed, it is likely that several rounds of review will be required. They will be reflected on the schedule as well as resource needs.
The subject of the training and local knowledge
A well-known benefit of elearning is that its subject can be anything. However, there are other things to consider in localization. In addition to the target group, local culture and legislation have to be taken into consideration. For example, in safety-related training, you must know the applicable legislation for the contents to be compliant with regulations. In Europe, regulations and the letter of the law are largely consistent, but elsewhere, regulations can be stricter, which should be considered.
Requirements for the contents of online training
In elearning implementation less text is more. Text passages that are short and to the point are more enjoyable to read and the reader won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information. The challenge with localization is that the number of characters in the text in another language may differ vastly from the source language. For example, more space may be needed in various information windows and buttons and there is a limit to how much fonts can be resized before it affects user experience.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The same applies to online training. When planning the content, it is useful to consider whether something you want to say could be said using a picture. If an image contains text, it has to be edited in localization.
If the elearning includes voice-overs, the way in which the target group is used to consume content, as well as the structure of the content, need to be considered. Subtitling voice-overs is, undeniably, the most straightforward solution, but if there is a lot of text on the screen already, adding subtitles to it amounts to too much text to be processed. In that case, you might want to consider localizing the voice-overs. The same mostly applies to video as well. The volume of text must be restricted and any text in the video itself must be considered when planning localization.
Even though different media have requirements for elearning localization, you have to remember that people learn best when the message is conveyed through text, images and video. Also, let's not forget interactivity which can be used to keep up the trainees interest.
Inspections and testing
A two-stage inspection should be applied to elearning content translations. The first inspection should be done when the content has been translated in text form. The second inspection should be done when the training course has been put together. The first inspection ensures that the translations are in line with the rest of the company's communications and terminology. For example, any corrections to terminology are easy to implement at this stage.
The second inspection ensures that the translation work in the context of the completed course. At this stage, it's possible to fix any problems related to changes in the number of characters. Of course, it would be best for the translator to be able to view the course, which would make the context of the translations clear.
In addition to the inspections, the localized elearning should also be tested locally. This ensures that the training also works when localized into a new language. Testing ensures that user-friendliness is maintained, meaning that the user understands what needs to be done and how the training is to be completed. At the same time, you can verify that the content works as it should after it has been localized.
Localizing elearning – for better learning
Multilingual or multinational companies shouldn’t shy away from elearning localization. A single well-prepared training course can serve a very large target group, as long as it is localized. This way, the company does not need to create completely new training courses separately for each target country. A carefully made localization is as effective as the original. It has the same impact on the target group and produces the desired learning results.
Do you need help with localizing your existing elearning? Do you have plans for elearning that is going to localized into multiple languages? Please contact us, and our experts will help you find the solutions that best support your project.