Localisation Challenges in an eLearning project

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I wanted to expand on my previous blog post on localisation, “Localisation of eLearning Content“. This blog is more focused on the challenges faced on an eLearning project when localisation, specifically with regards to translation and the use of machine translations, is used.

When developing eLearning content where the audience is global it is worth sometimes investing in localisation of this content and specifically the translation as it will mean that the global audience you are targeting has content available in their local language and is targeted to their specific locale. This also means that the message you are trying to convey in the content is not “lost in translation”. So to me translation of content is a key investment to drive usage of this content to a global audience and worth the investment.

On a number of projects I have worked on we have had to turn around the translation process of the content quickly, where the speed of this translation is key. So we have used machine level translations which then offers up its own challenges in terms of the accuracy of the translation.

I would always choose to have human based translation but this can be very expensive and also very time consuming. So how do we overcome the challenges of using machine level translations:

  • Look to use a commercial localisation tool and not the free translation service. For example the Google API Translation or WorldLingo. This will allow you to teach the translation API for errors and customise it for your localisation.
  • Using a commercial translation API will also allow you to teach it specific terms that are key to the industry you localising for. This can be critical for industries such as “Health Care”
  • For the first few translations you do using a machine API, look to have the initial 2-3 pieces of content reviewed by a human but ensure the errors or issues they find are fed back to the machine translation. Ensuring the learning is not only on literal word translation but also the grammar and sentence structures in the target language.
  • You may want to focus the machine translation on the key European languages where the translation accuracy is a lot higher than languages such as Arabic or Chinese.

Note that the above key elements will improve the accuracy of machine translation and will assist in getting the eLearning content out quickly but will not replace the human translation accuracy (which as some of us know can also be prone to some errors). So the key decision for you to make on specific projects you are working on, will be how willing you are to compromise on quality to get the content out to your audience in the locale version.

Hope this article has helped in driving key decisions on eLearning content localisation. Also note that within our Jzero JLMS Solution we support localisation whereby we allow you to download the localisation sheet from our LMS and have it localised (be it machine or human) then load it back up to have a localised version of the LMS within minutes.

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