International E-learning localization from your headquarters: 5 steps towards positive behavioral changes

June 1, 2012

Investing in international e-learning programs is increasingly a common corporate practice as companies realize its cost effectiveness versus traditional training methods. When training international staff, the advantages of eLearning in terms of lower travel time and costs are even more evident. In this first of two consecutive blog posts on e-learning localization, we’ll begin by taking a look at the big picture and the top 5 tips to create positive behavioral change. Later this month, we’ll follow up with a more in-depth treatment of tactical and technical items that should be considered to increase global sales and adoption rates of your international e-learning program.

1. Develop a Global eLearning Strategy from the start
A little optimism can go a long way. A lot of time and money can be saved if you anticipate your move into the global marketplace and plan accordingly from the start. Develop your international e-learning strategy alongside domestic product planning to assure that you budget correctly for all software, documentation, marketing, localization and technological costs. Planning ahead for your move to other markets will allow you to launch local and international e-learning products in a manner that makes business sense, create synergies that translate into cost savings and help your instructional designers develop a more consistent program.

2. Keep Content Simple
Make sure that your message is transmitted clearly in the target culture by keeping it concrete and direct. Avoid the use of slang, metaphors and cultural references that could be confusing or inappropriate in another culture. Simple, yet direct, content is a great manner to prepare for an multilingual and multicultural environment.

3. Internationalize then Localize
The steps listed above form part of the process of internationalization. Localization, which comes next, involves adapting your services and course offering to the targeted international market. This process should result in an international e-learning product that looks and feels as if it was designed for one specific market.

4. Think Multicultural
Language access often means more than getting the words right; cultural issues are just as important for e-learning localization. Research from the MASIE Center shows attrition rates as high as 80% for international e-learning programs that fail to address cultural issues. Ignoring cultural factors of the target market led to frustrating and ineffective learning experiences with students rating the programs as “terrible” and voting in favor of traditional classroom training instead. Knowledge of the target culture is essential to creating a message that will incite the positive behavioral change employers are seeking through e-learning.

5. Create a tailor-made translation
Translation can be considered part of the localization process since it involves the conversion of all linguistic aspects of the original into the specific language of the target culture. As with any international translation you must consider your specific target audience and the variety or dialect of the given language that they use. This last step is essential to connect with your audience and ensure that your international e-learning program will be considered a runaway success, yielding positive behavioral changes for the employers who implement your program around the globe.

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

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