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E-Learning for a Global Market – Problems and Preparation

If you are into e-learning, making custom-designed e-learning programs for global consumption can bring your organization a large bouquet of benefits, both in terms of speed with which it reaches the market and the cost of making them, besides also retaining and translating your training objectives into global training.

If you are experienced in this field, you know that if training is to be beneficial to the learner, you need to localize your training modules. Obviously, this means much more than getting a good translator on the job. There are other more important factors that come into play when you consider taking your e-learning packages worldwide. These are:

  • Is English enough? Perhaps not: It is widely known that most of the developed workforces of the world necessarily speak and work in English. But just because they know English well enough to use it as a working language, does that mean that they understand it best?  Studies have pointed to the fact that learning in one’s first language is understood best and is most effective. So, if English is one’s second or third language, the learner is bound to face immense difficulty in understanding and retaining what he is exposed to. This therefore not just reduces understanding of the subject but could also lead to misinterpretation of the same.

  • The learner’s culture gives him a vision of life: For a learner, his culture is his pair of eyes through which he sees the world. A part of this is one’s language and the values his society gives important to. Such factors have an impact on learning styles. For this reason, it is necessary that an e-learning module be adapted to one’s culture and country. If this is impractical, an option is to design Web-based modules especially targeted to multicultural audiences which could radically improve efficiency of training.
  • Adapting to the learner’s market and culture: Which country are you writing for? Get a handle on that and identify common cultural pointers between countries that speak the same language. If a particular country has some unique needs, find an expert in that country who can give you the best inputs on this.

  • Use country-specific text or neutralize it: If you’re writing region-specific text, take care not to make culturally inappropriate comparisons in writing, or use slang, metaphors or make any other ethnic-related references that could be hurtful.
  • Translate and localize e-courses: In order to get the best out of your e-learning courses, you need to plan in advance the design and delivery mode so that content can be suitably created to suit the country in which it is to be taught. If the content that must be localized is identified much in advance, the e-learning course can be easily deployed. The translation and localization can be the most costly aspect to course development if not done right. After the content is neutralized or adapted to suit key markets, the technical and design models can be internationalized and the translation initiated.

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