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E-learning Translations: Impact on Online Course Design and Development

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E-learning Translations: Impact on Online Course Design and Development

It is no exaggeration to say that the last two decades have revolutionized the world of Learning and Development. As companies continue to expand their operations overseas, the significance of the need to impart effective training to multilingual workforces is ever increasing.

To meet this need, many companies are translating their online courses into the languages spoken by their staff members. According to the Globalization and Localization Association and Common Sense Advisory, a translation/localization research firm, the market for e-learning translation was about US$ 250 million in 2008 and was estimated to double in three to five years (Farrell, 2008).

Today, we will examine the impact of growing e-learning translations on online course design and development.

Impact of translations on online course design and development

Internationalization of the content

Internationalization is a process where the SME and the instructional designer review the content and makes sure that it is culture neutral. The content, slangs, symbols are neutralized to suit different cultures. Many firms develop their courses in “plain English” which is devoid of idioms and other culture-specific expressions which are hard to translate.

Emphasis on visual content

Our experience shows that when an e-learning course of 30 minutes needs to be translated, the audio can be reduced to 15 minutes approximately without losing the intended meaning. Therefore, the focus needs to be mainly on graphics, images, and text, so that narration costs are reduced.

Reduction in the use of audio and videos

Many companies use audio and videos in their e-learning courses, but this can complicate the translation process. For example, if there are 3 video clips in the course and you want to translate them into three different languages, you have to produce nine different dubbings. So, it’s better to use audio and videos sparingly in courses which need to be translated.

Use of more flexible course layouts

In certain cases, the length of the translated text is more than the English text. So, it is very important to use a flexible online course layout that accommodates text of increased length. The layout also needs to accommodate text in languages which use non-roman scripts, some of which are written from right to left (Hebrew and Arabic) and vertically (Japanese).

Growth in the use of text layout format (TLF) and rapid authoring tools

The growth of e-learning translations is one of the factors contributing to the increase in the use of new formats and rapid authoring tools to develop online courses. For instance, the text layout format (TLF) simplifies the process of translating e-learning courses developed using Flash. Similarly, rapid authoring tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Lectora Inspire go a long way in making e-learning translations easy.

As e-learning translations become commonplace, many companies are producing translation-friendly culture-neutral online learning content. The cost implications of e-learning translations have resulted in greater emphasis on visuals and reduction in the use of audio and videos. E-learning developers are increasingly opting for flexible course layouts and the use of the TLF format and rapid authoring tools is on the rise. Thus, e-learning translations have a profound impact on online course design and development. What do you think?

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