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Technical Considerations of eLearning Localization 

Getting into the details of localized course creation

Localizing eLearning content can be a challenging process. Recently we highlighted the importance of choosing the right markets and authoring content for translation. Now let’s take a closer look at the technical considerations of localizing distance education programs.

Choosing the right platform and hosting

Ideally, a website or an eLearning application should use a global design which allows for a consistent global navigation experience and greater brand recognition. A well-designed global template also allows room for customization for each locale. There are 4 key steps to keep in mind for developing a global design for eLearning products:

  1. Content should be stored centrally using a website platform, server, and software palette that supports multilingual site hosting.
  2. Identify which parts of the site can be translated and which parts must be rewritten specifically for a target country.
  3. Create the multilingual website structure or content database with language folders and a navigation system that guides non-English speaking users through the website in their native language.
  4. Create a clear language selection menu on the home page using the translated names of each language.

Verify International support for any content management systems

A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is beneficial for re-use of learning objects across lessons, courses, and curricula. But you’ll need to evaluate LCMS vendors for proper international support.

The LCMS partner you choose must be able to support international character sets, culturally correct presentation of time and date fields, personal data, and specific business practices related to human capital management requirements in each market.

Organize and simplify file structures for localization

A well globalized eLearning course or curriculum allows a localization vendor to focus on translating the content, as opposed to processing a wide range of complex file formats and types. A few additional helpful tips are:

  1. Keep track of all resource files and include graphics source files to be localized.
  2. Keep text in external text files whenever possible.
  3. Avoid using too many separate, small resource files. Try to keep all translatable text centralized in a few files.

Simplify formatting and layout for faster localization

Simplifying your formatting and layout can significantly reduce the localization costs on distant education offerings. Applying styles and templates consistently allows for rapid updating of layout changes across locales. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Allow for local formatting conventions, such as address formats, date/time formats, currencies, telephone and fax numbers, etc.
  2. Use defined styles instead of colors for highlighting content. Defined styles let you change the choice of point size, color, or emphasis for a target market is much easier.
  3. Avoid using specific fonts as a design feature, as certain fonts may not support accented or double-byte characters. If you must use customized fonts be sure that the customized fonts support non-western languages.
  4. Size of fonts and graphics can be an issue for the target languages.

Graphics considerations to speed translation and save budget

Graphics tend to be fairly costly to localize as they require more manual tweaking than most

other file formats in your localized course. We suggest you minimize the use of graphics, whenever possible. If it is necessary to put text on embedded images, develop layered, text-accessible graphics source files (e.g., .psd files) where all text is contained in a specific text layer of the source file. Try to keep embedded images generic (usable in all locales). Consider simplifying your animations to minimize the need for translation and cultural adaptation later.

Text To Image (TTI) Can Speed Local Market Adaptation

One of the most exciting areas of graphic design is AI generation. Several Open Source program can be easily trained to generate new images and graphics or adjust existing ones. You are limited only by your own imagination: From a flow chart to explain a new process to your company logo integrated into a mountain meadow, its all possible.

But with the possibility comes some cautions: The AI can be prompted to generate all manner of images, but the wrong prompts can lead you to infringing on photographer and artist copyrighted materials. Copywrite can be a throny issue so it’s best to speak with your corporate council before using any AI generated art in a campaign launch or other high-exposure area.

Be Aware of Space, Layout and Even Icon Considerations

As with any translation project, pay special attention to the space used for text on images or buttons. In some languages, like German, text expansion occurs (requiring as much as 50% more space in the translated language). Conversely, some languages, like Japanese, result in text contraction yet may require additional height.

Graphic elements can be challenging when creating a design template to be used for multiple target markets. For example, icons may be clearly understood in one culture but not another or may have a different meaning altogether. Even pictures of people may need to be switched in the graphic libraries to better represent the targeted culture.

Voiceover considerations to improve your localized course offerings

Adding voiceover to your distance learning is a helpful aid in education. When choosing your voice talent, use a mix of gender, race, and seniority that is appropriate for the target culture, but try to minimize the number of actors and the complexity of dialogue. Remember to keep the original audio format and information on settings used during audio recording as part of the original source, including the transcriptions of the dialogue.

As with text, recorded voice-overs can expand as much as 50% over the English voicing. This can impact dubbing and lip-syncing times when recording a translated script for use with an English video, and might require sound compression and other adjustments.

Text To Speech Streamlines (TTS) voiceover for some applications

Just as AI has revolutionized translation, TTS applications have delivered fast, near automatic production of voiceover work for video, lecture and instructional work – at a fraction of the cost of standard voiceover contracting. In addition to the lower cost, TTS also makes revisions easier as the AI can output new content as quickly as you revise it – no need to book another session with your voice talent. TTS also allows you to perform narrations with multiple characters without the having to coordinate multiple voice talents.

But for all its promise, there are some drawbacks. TTScan not yet match the animated character and range of vocal emotion that a trained voice talent can. For this reason, we still recommend keeping TTV use on the education, information side of customer communication and use human talent for advertising and marketing communications.

We’re happy to be your go-to resource for localized eLearning programs

The global eLearning market is growing, leading more organizations to face the challenge of localizing their applications into multiple languages. Companies need to plan their multilingual distance learning release carefully, have a clear vision and strategy, properly internationalize their eLearning application, and follow guidelines in order to localize their products effectively—optimizing the time-to-market, while meeting acceptable quality and budget guideline requirements. The guidelines provided in this blog post will assist you in achieving these goals. Don’t miss our first blog post and ebook about eLearning localization for more even more information. Or simply drop us a note to see how we can help with your distance education program.

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