Our last visit to Las Vegas at DevLearn was not only about acquiring new business contacts, but also about getting to know the e-learning industry from the inside. It is a booming market, and its products allow students and employees around the world to assimilate new knowledge beyond the four walls of classrooms.
The beauty of mobile technologies is that they can be used anywhere on Earth. International companies have long recognized the benefits of e-learning— research shows that as many as 77% of U.S. companies now use this type of solution, and 44% of the companies surveyed worldwide planned to purchase e-learning technologies in 2015.
With such tools, top-down corporate procedures can be quickly presented to employees and implemented in subsidiaries around the world. And although in fact a large part of the training content is universal and will be understood both in the USA and Poland, the location will improve the training process and make it more user-friendly and thus more effective.
So we suggest what to look for when creating e-learning content so that it can respond to the training needs of users speaking different languages and cultures.
- Already at the stage of preparing the content and interface of the software or e-learning mobile application, it is necessary to remember the need to translate and locate it. Content in another language may take up more/less space, which will significantly affect its location. Just change the English language to Russian, Arabic or Chinese. In addition to the width of the characters, the way a language is read is also important— after all, there are many things that are read vertically or from right to left. So, at the initial stage, be sure to leave a larger margin or just more space for content in another language.
- Keep cultural considerations in mind – e-learning content should be culturally neutral, and if it isn’t, replace it with a localized version. Firstly, thanks to such a procedure, unpleasant situations can be avoided, in which the audience may feel offended by the use of inappropriate content (something that for us is neutral or funny, it does not have to be for representatives of other cultures). Secondly, location will make your content more understandable. Imagine a road law learning software in which graphics with Polish road signs were not replaced during the English translation. For the American audience, this introduces an additional difficulty, because the characters (slightly) differ in appearance. So using the right graphics can also increase your audience’s engagement.
- Keep in mind that e-learning software is designed not only to learn new information, but also to assess the progress of students or employees. Training content should therefore be created in such a way that the employer or teacher has the opportunity to evaluate the results. The results of the training will be more reliable if, regardless of the language in which the content is created, it can be evaluated in the same way. Content must therefore be universal not only for their audience, but also for evaluators. In conclusion, the possibility of evaluating the results of training in Chinese should be the same as those in Arabic or English.
- If in an e-learning program, they are given as examples of scenes that can happen in life, make sure that they can actually happen in life. Remember, for example, to change currencies, the side of the road where vehicles move, or adapt human behavior and customs to those that actually occur in a given region.
- From a technical point of view, remember that your LMS is prepared to “adopt” new languages. So remember double-bit characters, date save formats, units of measure, and time. Also, notice what source file format is sent to the client— this editable file can greatly facilitate the process of translating and ingolysing content.
In conclusion, e-learning content must be universal, and if they are not, they should be prepared for the localization process. It includes a technical, text, and graphics layer of a platform or software, with the goal of adapting the cultural content and making it easier for the audience to assimilate it. This will not only fulfil their training role, but also reflect the linguistic and cultural diversity of the world, and be better absorbed by the audience.
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