Four strategies for better e-learning localisation
E-learning has become the new norm and attracts an increasing number of enthusiastic students, teachers and organisations who see a huge potential in this type of education.
However, for an online course to be effective, it has to be engaging and relevant to the target audience.
One way to achieve it is by adapting the e-leaning content to the language and culture of your students.
But how to do it and gain even more benefits of online teaching?
Below you can see four strategies that can help you localise your online teaching courses and platforms to be able reach and engage more students.
1. Plan your course with localisation in mind
If you target your course at a global audience, chances are you’ll create your content in English. This might be enough for a start, but if you want to truly interact with your international users, you’ll have to include more languages at some point. That’s why already at the planning and development phase you have to make sure your videos can be adapted to other languages and cultures.
Analyse carefully all images, colours, symbols, gestures and cultural references that you want to use in your course: Are they appropriate and clear to all your target users in each and every country?
In some cases it might be possible to replace the images or cultural nuances in the content localised for a new audience, but very often you’ll need to adopt a neutral approach and include universal visuals and references that will be comprehensible to every student.
2. Provide enough space for texts
To make your content available in other language you can either use subtitles, voice-over or design new videos with native speakers as the presenters. The last step will be the most time-consuming and costly, but it may have the best impact on your students.
The most common strategy is the use of subtitles, which might not be as simple as it seems.
Different languages use less or more screen space than English, so you’ll need to make sure there’s enough place to display characters of the languages you wish to feature. This rule applies not only to subtitles, but to any other text that appears in a video, e.g. on a slide.
3. Provide support for your target students
Even if your content is properly adapted to the language and culture of your target audience, your course may not be as successful as you think it should be.
Once you develop a foreign language content, you’ll also have to provide support in the same language. It doesn’t have to be as detailed as in your original language, but you should at least consider providing a short FAQ section and a help forum.
In this way your students won’t have to struggle in case of issues and questions or switch to the original language version to try to solve their problem. Adding a support page in the language of your users will also make your course more user-friendly.
4. Work with professionals
There’s nothing more annoying than half-measures, such as sloppy subtitles rendered by machines or partially adapted visuals. Hiring native speakers instead of qualified translators or using software tools might be a tempting strategy to save time and costs. But if you want to convey an effective and clear message, cutting corners isn’t a good idea.
You’ll be able to ensure high quality of your course only if you work with a team of professional localisers, translators and developers who specialise in e-learning localisation. So, leave the adaptation of you content to experts, and focus on developing engaging courses that can inspire your students across the world.
Localisation of an online course or online teaching platform doesn’t have to be complex and time-consuming. With the right preparation and experienced team you’ll be able to make your videos more appealing and reach more online learners, regardless of their location and foreign language skills.
Dorota Pawlak is a localization consultant for digital brands. She enjoys helping businesses enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages, and technology.
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