Creating Multi Language E-Learning has always presented a unique set of challenges. Some challenges concern translation while others relate to content production and technology. While a professional and qualified translation agency can often help ensure accurate and high quality translation, Multi Language E-Learning remains a technical challenge. Indeed the problem has become even more acute with the use of mobile phones as content needs to be delivered on varied devices. The good news is that with a little planning and the right technology platform many of these problems can easily be resolved.
However, let us first look at some of the most common problems encountered while developing Multi Language e-Learning.
- Need to Create Separate Courses for each Language: Till recently, if you needed a course in 10 different
languages you needed to create 10
separate courses as most authoring systems did not allow you to pack multiple
languages into a single course from
which the learner could select a language at runtime. Creating multiple versions of a course creates several problems:
- Additional effort for creating each version
- Additional effort for testing each version
- Additional effort for Maintain and update multiple language versions of a course.
- LMS Administration overhead . Multiple languages need to be uploaded to the Learning Management System as separate courses however these separate course would be treated as a single course for collating scores. This creates a need to map multiple language versions to a single course adding considerably to LMS administration overhead
- Additional server space is required as media is duplicated for each language version
Besides additional effort, Multi language e-Learning also presents a number of other problems . These include:
- Distortion of Fonts : Especially for Asian and Non European languages
- Truncation of Text In some language versions text would get cut off because of fixed text box sizes
- Distorted synchronization as audio and animations fall out of Sync
- Managing Language specific media Assets is a problem as media assets are included for each language without differentiating between common media assets and language specific media assets
- Lack of Language Profilers meant that the course could not automatically adjust to the language of the user’s device
However today technology solutions are available that can help you overcome most of the traditional problems that are associated with Multi language E-Learning. However you need to choose your Authoring Platform carefully. Some of the key features your Authoring System must support are:
- Ability to export and import text files easily. Typically a good authoring system will allow you to export the XML file with text embedded and send these for translation. Most professional translators are quite comfortable with working with XML files and usually have tools that help them translate the text in XML files.
- Ability to export Audio files easily for translation
- Ability to Include multiple languages into a Single course
- Ability to define common as well as language specific media libraries and select appropriate media at runtime
- Flexible Text boxes to ensure text does not get truncated
- Multiple ways of Audio Synchronization to ensure that your audio does not fall our of Sync
- Language Profiler that helps detect device language
Font fidelity is an extremely important in translation and deserves a separate mention. This is especially true for Asian and Non European languages such as Chinese, Japanese Arabic or Hindi. A rather unfortunate number of Authoring systems will distort non Roman fonts making your courses unintelligible. Canvas based authoring tools are highly susceptible to this problem. It is a good idea to verify the claims made by your authoring system with respect to font fidelity of Asian and Non European Languages
To avoid the font problem it is best to use a DOM based Authoring system. DOM based technology can help you avoid this pitfall entirely. However do make sure that your Authoring system allows you to include your own font libraries into your course. This can go a long way in ensuring that your fonts stay true irrespective of language or device.