8 tips for creating global eLearning content

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

According to a recent report, the corporate eLearning (or eTraining) market is constantly growing and it seems that this tendency will continue in the coming years. This comes as no surprise given that the business world is already lead by new-generation employees who are more independent and like to do everything in their own way, and the fact that eLearning is a cost-effective solution compared to the in-class training.

In our internationalized era, where content can reach global audiences in the blink of an eye, the choice to localize eLearning content is self-evident. Therefore, if you are considering creating an eLearning course that will be subsequently localized in one or many foreign languages, there are certain points to take into account:

  1. English is the main language most organizations choose to create their eLearning courses and thus International English is the recommended variation to adopt for the development of your online course. At this stage, it is very important to create culture-neutral content. Avoid idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms and country-specific references, extracts from literature or poetry as this may pose certain restrictions in the translation process. Use humor cautiously as it is very culture-centric. What is considered humorous in one country might be offensive in another.
  2. Carefully examine your target audience and consider issues related to their geographic location, customs associated with the audience, certain language requirements or possible restrictions that may occur in the localization process (for example, right-to-left languages and their support in various platforms, various language variations and the appropriateness of the translatable content for these languages).
  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. An image is, in many cases, a strong means to back a certain theory or illustrate an idea in a clearer way. So, it is essential to choose culturally appropriate and acceptable images for the target audience. Try to opt for neutral images of people, humanoid images or vector images. The aim is always to have a natural target result to achieve the desired purpose. It is also advisable to avoid adding text into images. Texts within the images may increase cost and time, as there is a certain amount of extra work involved in the extraction and import of the text.
  4. Audio: choose the right narrator for your audience. It is very important to know that in some cultures, as in the Middle-East and South Asia, people expect the voice of the narrator to be very authoritative and firm. In other cultures, as in Western countries, people would expect a friendly, informal tone. Make sure your narrator sounds professional for the intended audience.
  5. Use the appropriate authoring tools to create your eLearning courses (Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire to name a few), as they provide a choice to export the course content into an MS-Word or XML document with just a click. These formats are easily supported by the software used by translators and translation service providers and once translated, they can be imported back with yet another click.
  6. Keep in mind that some languages are wordy and the translated content may expand by 30 to 50% compared to the English original. This means that you need to provide ample space in your course for this purpose and possibly provide more time for reading before releasing the next text block in the screen.
  7. Make sure the content can run in most platforms, including mobile devices, which appears to be the most widely used means for viewing eLearning content.
  8. Hire professionals. Professional native translators who are subject matter experts (SMEs) possess the skills required to incorporate appropriate cultural variations and terminology into the translated version. Choose to work closely with your translation partner sharing meaningful information for the correct understanding of your intended message.

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