How to Ensure eLearning Message is Not Lost in Translation

How to Ensure eLearning Message is Not Lost in Translation

As a multinational organization with a global presence, you may want to maximize the opportunities provided by eLearning to train your employees. After all, you would want your employees across different geographical regions to participate in the learning process with equal fervor and passion.

However, how do you ensure that the communication, content and methods of training delivery are received uniformly despite differences in values, culture, beliefs and different learning styles? Often, it is noticed that instructional designers or learning design experts face the following challenges when designing courses for a diverse audience.

In a chapter titled, “Adapting E-learning Across Cultural Boundaries: A Framework for Quality Learning, Pedagogy, and Interaction”, Catherin McLoughlin states that there are three main challenges facing course developers. They are,

1. Global vs. local perspectives: Can examples, references, case studies be relevant in the local context?

2. Adaptation vs. generalized approaches: Can content developed with a global outlook result in delivering depth to the knowledge?

3. Pedagogical uniformity vs. accommodating cultural diversity: Can a centralized eLearning course development be amenable to varying learning styles, values and culture?

(Source: Book titled, Globalizing E-learning Cultural Challenges)

Clearly, delivering eLearning courses across different geographies is not really that simple. While there is no one way to address the challenges mentioned above, here are some suggestions based on our experience with Fortune 500 companies in translating eLearning courses into multiple languages.

1. Get eLearning courses translated into native languages. Get local SMEs to validate the references, examples or case studies to ensure they provide the local perspective.

2. Content has to be translated retaining the depth of the original course content. Generalized approach may work for certain subject matters but courses in the domain of compliance, safety or process will need to be adapted to suit local context.

3. It is important that translations of eLearning courses are handled by learning experts and not just localization or translation experts. This is important to ensure pedagogical uniformity in the courses while taking into consideration the language and cultural aspects.

Translation of eLearning courses needs to be done professionally to guarantee knowledge transfer that is accurate and impactful. Professional translation and localization experts who understand local sensibilities and are training experts will help translate courses such that the content depth is not lost in translation.

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