Posted on : July 29th, 2015
In recent years, the market for e-learning services and platforms is growing rapidly in the corporate environment. E-learning is being utilized for training within the corporate structure in various ways, including employee training, organization on-boarding, process trainings, soft skills trainings and so on. According to a popular research, the global e-learning market is growing at the rate of 15.06 percent, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Driving this growth is the massive popularity of handheld devices, such as mobiles and tablets, which is heralding the era of mobile learning.
As more and more organizations adopt e-learning, they also have to create a strategic plan to make sure that the e-learning initiative is successful across the entire organizational spread. Global e-learning programs can help companies drastically cut travel and employees’ training costs, as well as improve efficiency while retaining a uniform international company culture. However, there are many challenges when creating a global e-learning initiative, which can lead to unnecessary cost or delays in rolling out the initiative. By following best practices of e-learning content development, organizations can avoid common mistakes and create impactful learning content for international learners.
- Creating a uniform tone that will appeal to all audience profiles:
Different learners have varied learning preferences and it is difficult to find the same tone across all e-learning content. Successful content creators research cultural norms and dialects of the specific country or region to make sure that the e-learning content is aligned to learner preferences. This can be done in collaboration with experts from the region who understands the learning preferences of the local audiences. Also, in addition to translation, the content should be suitably localized to keep cultural and social biases out of the learning content. For example, any reference to popular culture should be avoided in the text as well as design, including references from sports, slang or entertainment world. Maintaining clarity of both text and graphic design provides the learning material an appropriate, universally-appreciated tone.
- Delivering strong and powerful messages:
Shortcuts like merely translating e-learning materials created for the learners of one region for multi-region delivery is not a good idea as a lot of messaging gets lost in the translation process. Developing text and design that has no or little reference to the source language is a difficult task for the developers, especially if they have limited knowledge of the new cultures and global regions being targeted. But if the e-learning solutions program is written with the global audience in mind, without biases like idioms, humour, or specific cultural references, it can be well-adapted to suit the overall message of the e-learning initiative. Keeping this wide-angled view on the outcomes, the text as well as design should be created. Details pertaining to specific regions can be changed as per the need during the localization process – but the uniformity of the e-course message should be maintained.
- Cutting down costs of Translation and Localization: With limited training budgets, the costs of translating and localizing e-learning materials also have to be kept minimal. When implementing a global e-learning initiative, the e-learning content needs to be translated and localized into multiple languages. But there are ways to reduce costs here as well. Hiring local translators can be a wise decision as they would not cost the earth and would also do the job best.Within the content too, there can be ways to reduce localization costs. For instance, instead of creating audio narration with animated video and having to translate voice-overs, re-record as well as re-sync, “audio bookends” can be created to frame the animation – thereby removing the issue of exact timing. This can be a faster and cheaper way to create learning material with suitable audio narrations across different audiences.
- Creating a learning solution at par with varying technology options and connectivity: Selecting a single platform and format for an e-learning initiative is of prime importance as it directly affects the efficacy of the program. There are many options to choose from – from the very basic off-the-shelf e-courses to customized solutions that take time to be created and implemented.It is best to keep in mind that computer access and internet speeds vary greatly across different regions. It is important to have clear expectations of technical solutions for e-learning programs. Facilities like streaming video may not be available to all the learners. Purely web-based programs with large graphical interface files may not be the best choice if the audiences are from different parts of the world. The good news is that there is a significant shift in the e-learning industry to create solutions that work on minimum bandwidth and can be integrated with available resources.
To ensure e-learning success for a global spread of learners, it is necessary that from the very beginning, content is created with translation and localization in mind – in order to produce effective courses that can be easily adapted from one language or culture to another. Sticking to this strategy, you can save time, money, and effort while creating impactful technology-aided learning for the global audience.
Suggested further reading: Keep It Simple-Challenges, Solutions, and Best Practices for Global e-Learning Initiatives by Kristen Giovanis, KJ International Resources, Minneapolis, United States
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