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The 7 Musts of Globalizing eLearning

Jul 28, 2015

Written by: Peder Jacobsen
(View Author Bio)

Global companies now need their eLearning in five, ten or even 30 languages – and they face three big challenges that prevent effective translation on a global scale.

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First, the global market uses multiple devices, multiple operating systems and multiple browsers. iOS and Android are locked in a dead heat for overall tablet and smartphone market share. And PCs aren’t going away any time soon so going global also means supporting ten-year-old IE8 browsers.

Next, the translation process can be time-consuming and error-prone. Despite minor steps forward, it is still labor intensive, expertise-driven and fraught with error. Content is exported and sent to a translator. After translation, it gets reloaded and tested. The whole process is then repeated multiple times. There are many opportunities for errors: copy and paste errors, document formatting errors, mis-numbering, incorrect associations between blocks of text and misnamed media files – just to name a few.

Finally, maintenance and support of content is difficult. There are usually separate courses for each language multiplied by the number of device types you support. A developer or programmer is often required to make the updates.

The good news is globalizing and maintaining eLearning doesn’t have to be so difficult. eLearning anytime, anywhere, on any device across the globe can be developed efficiently.

Here are the seven “musts” of globalizing eLearning.

1. Learning MUST work on any device from a single version.

It’s a multi-device world. To deliver on the promise of “anytime, anywhere,” global eLearning must first work on any device.

If that is not the case, you’ll be creating multiple course versions for each and every language. If your eLearning tool uses Flash to support old browsers and HTML5 for everything else, you have two course versions. That means potentially exporting, translating, importing, publishing and completing QA twice for every language.

The key is that the eLearning must work on all of your target devices. Use an approach that adapts the eLearning layout and interactivity to the specific device type (PC, tablet, smartphone) from a single course version.

 2. Learning MUST support all languages in one single course version.

Many eLearning tools create a different course version for each language. Take three courses that need one English version and one Spanish version. That’s six discrete courses; cumbersome, but manageable.

Now take 200 courses and five languages… or 10 courses and 31 languages. Not feasible.

But if you have all the translations contained in a single course – one course version, one URL and one course report – regardless of the number of languages, it becomes infinitely more manageable. This is especially true as the volume of your eLearning increases.

Ultimately, put the first two “MUSTS” together. The best practice is any language on any device – still only one course.

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Peder Jacobsen

Peder Jacobsen

Vice President

Peder Jacobsen is currently the Vice President of Learning at BI WORLDWIDE. Peder leverages his leadership and unique expertise in instructional design and ground up knowledge with the entire production process to lead BIW Learning in creating custom learning & engagement solutions that affect what people know how they feel and what they do. He also brings 25 years of interactive learning, training, and management experience to his current role. Before joining BIW in 2004, Mr. Jacobsen was Chief Learning Officer and a Co-Founder of LogicBay Corporation and Co-Founder of Training Innovations.