How to build elearnings that can be translated easily
You define the purpose, and target audience, get a budget or funding, and find the right people to build the eLearning. Somewhere in that process, you decide on the content of your eLearning. That's when it's important to think about another important step: do you want to make your eLearning available in multiple languages? If so, it is important to keep that in mind when deciding on your content.Here are three tips to help you develop your eLearning in such a way that it can be easily translated into multiple languages while maintaining the integrity of your content.
Keep your content mix simple
Carefully consider the types of content that you use (text, images, videos, narration, etc). The more types of content you have, the more complex translating your eLearning will be. And not just the effort of translating itself, but also uploading everything and making sure it's all put together correctly afterward.If possible, avoid using embedded text in images. Translating embedded text means not just translating the text itself, but also creating a new image with the translated text and replacing the image in the eLearning. Although a proper translation agency can take care of all that, it does increase the complexity of your translation project.Another challenge when having your eLearning translated is narration. Of course, you can have narration in various languages, but that means involving additional narrators in addition to translators. If the narration is in a video, you can opt for subtitling instead. If a text-heavy part of your eLearning is narrated, however, adding subtitles will get confusing fast for your students.It's important to think about what needs to be translated upfront and to align with your translation agency so that they can advise you on what's possible within your desired timeframe and budget.Another aspect to consider when choosing your content is where that content is located. Ideally, you have all your content in the eLearning itself. If your eLearning links to content on other platforms, videos on YouTube, for example, you'll have to make sure that those get translated separately. While that's not necessarily an issue when you fully control that content, if you don't you may end up with an eLearning that's not fully available in the languages that you need.
Make your visuals as neutral as possible
Making your eLearning available to an audience in different countries is about more than just translating the written content or audio that's in your elearning. Most likely, you'll also use images, videos, infographics, and other visuals. Of course, visuals won't be translated, but they may need to be localized. To prevent you from having to replace certain visuals when you want to publish your eLearning in a different country, better consider upfront which visuals are general and neutral enough to appeal to a broad audience. Know your audience, and choose your visuals carefully to ensure there's a cultural fit with your target audience.Take the use of colors for example. A graph showing red stock prices? In Eastern Asia that means they're rising, in North America, they're falling. The same goes for any anecdotal examples that you use. Try to use examples that are generally applicable, and you'll make your translator's job a lot easier. If you add assignments and activities to your eLearning, make sure these are easy to localize. Avoid the use of any graphics or examples that can be misinterpreted in a different culture, unless these are absolutely necessary for your eLearning.
Your eLearning is about getting certain knowledge across. Prevent your message from getting lost in translation. Avoid colloquial language and slang, as these are difficult to localize, and meaning may get lost. Make sure you don't unintentionally insult or offend your audience. Know your audience and keep their cultural context in mind in order to make sure they interpret the elearning the way you intend and gain the knowledge that you want them to.