Translating eLearning made easy : a conversation with Mike Alcock

An authoring tool with multiple language support makes translating eLearning faster and more efficient. We sat down with Gomo MD, Mike Alcock, to find out how to get the best results from your translation projects.

First of all, why should organizations be translating eLearning courses?

Mike: If you’re a global enterprise with offices across the world, then delivering your courses in your learners’ first language is vital.

These days, learners expect personalized content that is tailored to their role, their experience levels, and their native language. Ignore these requirements and you’ll have disengaged learners and low completion rates.

If you’re trying to teach your learners something really vital to their role, then it has to be in their language. Any barriers to knowledge uptake can have a major impact on the success of your learning.

What are the common issues organizations have when it comes to translating eLearning?

Mike: The big problems that our clients tend to come to us with are a result of using the wrong technology. For example, they may have used an authoring tool that forces them to make a separate course for each language. This involves a lot of extra set-up time and can then become a nightmare to maintain.

In some tools, if you need to update product information further down the line, you’re going to have to open up and update perhaps 10 or more separate courses. This kind of approach can mean organizations spend a lot of time and resources on translation projects and often run into problems with consistency between different versions.

So we often find that clients come to us having spent a lot of time and money on translation, with sub-optimal results.

How can an authoring tool like Gomo help?

Mike: Well, there are a number of things we’ve built into Gomo to make this as easy as possible.

The first one is that Gomo supports multiple languages within one course. So from the get-go, you won’t have to create different versions of the same course. This saves loads of time and effort during the initial set-up and maintenance of your course.

We also support XLIFF. This is the industry standard for translation agencies, so you’re not going to have any back and forth with queries on file compatibility.

So what’s the process for translating eLearning in Gomo?

Mike: It’s pretty simple. When you set up your course, you can specify the additional languages you require. Then you build your master version, for example in English, and get that all approved and signed off.

Once you’re ready, hit the “Export” button in Gomo and out comes the XLIFF file to send to a translation agency. They then translate the content and send you back the new XLIFF file with the translated text. Then you simply use the “Import” button to implement the new languages in your course.

Translations are often longer than the original language. How can you avoid unsightly text overruns?

Mike: Ultimately, the best thing to do is work with a responsive tool, like Gomo, which is fully HTML5-enabled. A responsive authoring tool will dynamically scale to accommodate longer text, which drastically reduces the chances of text overruns.

One issue people might not consider is how their translated course will look on a mobile device. Fortunately, if you use a responsive tool, your course will scale across different mobile devices regardless of whether it’s translated or original content. Gomo utilizes a responsive “content block” design system, so it can dynamically reposition “blocks”, or screen elements, to accommodate more text and smaller screen sizes.

Beyond translating eLearning, how can your authoring tool help with localizing content?

Mike: To give learners a personalized experience, you need to go beyond merely translating the text. To fully localize your course, consider that images, audio and video may need to be changed to be more culturally specific.

Gomo supports localization with a content layering feature in the editor. With this, you get different layers for different languages within the same course, rather than having to maintain separate versions.

You can use this feature to easily add in specific content for each language. For example, you may want to add an image of your German office into the German version. To do that, simply switch to the ‘German’ layer and then add in the image. It’s as simple as that!

What are your best tips for successful translation and localization projects?

Mike: Beyond making sure you have the right tool for the job, there are a few simple things you can do to make translating eLearning as painless as possible:

  1. Design with translation in mind from the outset and think about how changes such as translating into right-to left languages may look on screen.
  2. Limit the use of graphical text (text as image files – like a company logo). This will not be changed within XLIFF files.
  3. Your translation partner will be working without context when translating into XLIFF, so it’s helpful to give them a link to your course for reference.
  4. Use a great authoring tool… like Gomo!

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