Reaching out to a Global Audience through Localization of e-Learning Content

Posted on : March 5th, 2013
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Technology-aided learning has spread globally across the corporate sector over the last decade or so. Organizations have chosen to invest in e-learning to increase the reach and efficacy of training across their offices. As a result, the same standards of learning are followed across the length and breadth of the organization. While this makes good business sense, there are some considerations that must be taken into account when training a global audience. And the biggest one is that of localization of content.

Localization is the process of adaptation of an e-course to suit the intended audience. Translation (of the written or spoken text) is just one aspect of the localization process. In addition to changing the language, localization necessitates suitable changes in graphics, iconography, font, use of color, tone, and so on.

From our cauldron of experiences, we bring you some tips for smooth and effective localization.

  • Know your target audience: The first step to effective localization is to understand the learning behavior and needs of the target audience. A common learning objective needs to be identified even before building the course in the source language. Cultural biases toward certain icons, figures or colors need to be kept in mind. Language translations are best delegated to local experts of the region as they impart the right cultural flavor to the text – making it actually ‘speak’ to the audience.
  • Make your course ‘language-agnostic’ for a global appeal: When creating the course in the source language, make sure the text is concise and crisp. Avoid alliterations and descriptive passages that tend to confuse translators. Avoid slang and jargon too, to make the content free of culture-specific references.
  • A good voice over gives you an edge: Audio voice over (whether accompanied by text or not) is often an integral part of e-courses. The important thing about localizing audio is to make sure it is in sync with the accompanying text, graphics or animations. Try to use animations that ‘speak-out’, not human figures. It is always easier to synchronize the audio to the mouth movements of an animated figure than a human figure. If using human voice for voice overs, choose a suitable mix of gender and ethnicity keeping the target audience in mind. Here too, choosing local voice over artistes is the best option to bring in the right cultural flavor.
  • Localizing graphics: This can be tedious process because cultural bias towards graphics and icons is the strongest. The process can also be time-consuming because changing graphics needs considerable manual intervention. To make life easier, create your graphics with common tools like Photoshop, which allow ‘layering’ to keep imbedded texts separate in source files (.psd format). This allows changes to be made in the text, while the image can be left the same.
  • Centralize the localization process: Multinational companies which need to localize their training often prefer to outsource their e-learning to ensure content creation in all the preferred languages. This not only centralizes the process, it also ensures the training content is prepared keeping in mind the localization needs. At G-Cube, we work closely with a multinational company with offices in Europe as well as South-East Asia. We prepare a varied array of content for them on an on-going basis. Since the content needs to fit their global audience, every course created has 3 versions. In addition to English, the courses are localized into 2 more languages to cater to the organization in its entirety. This provides a seamless content creation process and localization that feeds-in to the continuing training requirements of the organization.
One Course Localized in 4 Languages

One Course Localized in 4 Languages

Localization of e-learning content creates huge time and cost savings for organizations. It enables reusability of content, without making too many changes in the technological or instructional structure of the course. To know if Localization will make good business sense for you too, write to [email protected]'

Santosh Misra

Santosh Misra has over 10 years of experience in eLearning industry for consulting and managing offshore clients and projects. His main expertise is with rapid development tools.

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