International marketing

Exploring eLearning Localization: A Comprehensive Guide

Exploring eLearning Localization: A Comprehensive Guide
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Reviewed by
Updated on
September 18, 2023

If students worldwide could benefit from your eLearning course, then localizing it could be the way forward for increasing your student base and course revenue.

However, there’s more to localizing a course than just translating its material – you’ll also need to tailor such content to your students’ local preferences. And if you have a lot of content to localize, or aren’t familiar with your target audience, it’s worth sourcing partners and tools that can facilitate your localization efforts.

In this guide, let’s check out what eLearning localization involves and how it can improve the learning experience (and hence your course sign-up rate!).

We’ll also explain a 6-step process for localizing your course, and share recommendations for bringing in the best localization partners and resources for such work.

Understanding eLearning Localization

eLearning localization is the process of adapting eLearning content to meet the cultural, linguistic, and educational needs of learners in a specific geographical location. It’s an important task if you’ll be accepting international students for your eLearning program, as students in different locations may speak different languages. They may even be accustomed to discussing concepts in a different format, or have different worldviews!

For example, people in the United States tend to measure lengths in terms of feet, inches, yards, and miles following the Imperial measurement system.

However, people in other parts of the world who use the metric system of measurement – such as people in the United Kingdom – measure lengths using meters instead.

So if you offer eLearning courses for American students that you want to introduce to people in the United Kingdom, you’d want to convert any uses of Imperial units in your courses into their metric equivalents.

Apart from adapting units of measurement, eLearning localization can also entail:

  • Translating your course material to accommodate your target audience’s native language.
  • Replacing graphics with more culturally appropriate ones, especially if your target audience may consider the original graphics offensive.
  • Modifying examples and case studies to include local references your target audience will understand.

Why is eLearning Localization Important?

Thanks to the Internet, anyone who wants to learn something can do so by accessing any course available online. This means you’re up against a lot of competition if you’re trying to expand your global student base!

Undertaking eLearning localization can help your courses stand out from the crowd by:

  • Increasing your course content’s relevance: By adapting your course material to include concepts your students can relate to, they’ll find your courses more relevant to them and their learning objectives.
  • Enhancing learner engagement: Students who can understand your course material (especially since it’s presented in their native language) will likely spend more time studying and interacting with it.
  • Improving your students’ comprehension and retention of the course material: When you localize eLearning content, you provide a more conducive learning environment for your students to absorb and apply what you’re teaching.
  • Promoting inclusivity and diversity: Regardless of their linguistic background or geographical location, students can take your courses with confidence that they’ll benefit from the material!

By fostering such a positive learning experience for students globally, you cement your reputation as a course provider that offers quality education for all. Consequently, you can boost your student sign-up rates, get more word-of-mouth recommendations, and earn more training program revenue.

Which eLearning Course Elements Should You Localize?

Essentially: as much of it as possible!

Such course elements could include:

  • Text: Translate your training modules, quizzes, subtitles, and so on into your students’ preferred languages. Also, update these with appropriate cultural references as necessary. For example, look into converting units of measurement and replacing examples with those tailored to your students’ local cultural context.
  • Graphics and other multimedia: Such as images, audio clips, and videos, especially if there is text embedded in them.
  • Assessments: Your course assessment questions and answers should likewise be in your students’ native languages. You could even create new assessments if students in your new audience prefer to be assessed in certain formats (such as listening comprehension exercises).
  • Navigational elements: Menu options and even the humble Back and Next buttons help students access the online training materials in your eLearning platform or learning management system (LMS). So don’t overlook localizing these!

To get more students signing up for your courses, take care to localize the non-course aspects of your eLearning website, too – including your home page, sales landing pages, and contact page.

Weglot can help with such localization work at scale, as we’ll cover in more detail later!

The eLearning Localization Process

There are 6 main steps to localizing an eLearning course, which you’ll need to repeat for each localized course variant you intend to create:

1. Research Your Target Market

Learn more about the students in your target audience so you can tailor your course to their needs. Don’t simply assume you know them, but take the time to do proper homework. You might be surprised by the new audience traits you discover that could influence your localization efforts!

Dive into understanding your target audience in terms of issues such as:

  • The languages they speak – including idioms and dialects, as appropriate.
  • The unique aspects of their culture, or societal preferences.
  • Their general educational levels, which may affect the level of detail or technicality you cover in your course.
  • Their preferred assessment options, such as written essays, multiple-choice quizzes, or video submissions (while also accounting for the most effective methods of testing whether a student understands a particular concept).

As you research your market, consider engaging local cultural consultants. Tapping into their rich understanding of your target market can be a worthwhile investment for shortening the time you need to launch your localized course.

2. Translate Your eLearning Material

Once you know your target audience inside out, you’re ready to begin the localization work.

If your training content is in a different language from what your audience speaks, translate it into their language first. Options for translating your material include undertaking the translation work yourself.

However, this effort may be challenging if you aren’t well-versed in the target language. And even if you are, translating your course content may not be the best use of your time when you also have daily operations to manage.

Alternatively, you could hire professional translators to translate your course content in its entirety. Doing so may be viable if you’re localizing a short course that doesn’t have extensive material. Otherwise, you may find the fees involved too prohibitive.

Weglot homepage

Our recommended approach for translating eLearning content is to upload them to your website (if you haven’t already), then use Weglot to translate such material instantly. When connected to a website, Weglot detects all content on it and automatically translates such text using a mix of neural machine translation.

Weglot can translate website content into 110+ supported languages, and you can also create custom languages to accommodate niche language variants in which you want to offer your course.

Explore using Weglot to translate your online course by signing up for a free 10-day trial here.

3. Localize Your Translated Training Content

As mentioned, there’s more to localization of eLearning content than just translating it – so you’ll need to adapt your translations for your students’ local context next.

Using the knowledge of your target audience’s cultural preferences and the local context you’ve gained, comb through your translated content to identify areas for refinement. Afterward, make adjustments accordingly.

If you’ve used Weglot to translate your course material, you’ll find all your translations conveniently stored in a central Weglot Dashboard. These translations are sorted by language pair, and you can select any translation to edit it.

For professional help with certain translations, you can order translations directly through your Weglot Dashboard and you’ll get them within 2 business days. You can also invite your own team members or external localization agencies to your Weglot translation project if you want to finetune your localized course material further.

With Weglot, media translation of images, videos, and other multimedia is also possible. Simply provide your original media’s URL and the alternative media URL you want to use in its place.

Weglot media translation

4. Seek Feedback on Your Localized eLearning Material

After producing a first pass of localized course material, get feedback on it so you know how potential students may perceive and engage with it. You can then use such input to improve your course before launching it.

To recruit test students, try putting out open calls for participants online. Share your ideal student profile in your recruitment material to weed out applicants who aren’t a great fit.

Offering free access to your localized course (in exchange for keeping its material confidential) can also help incentivize sign-ups.

Let your testers explore your course over a fixed period, then survey them for their thoughts on it. Ask questions such as:

  • What did you think of the course?
  • How easy was it to follow?
  • Are there explanations or test questions that could be clearer?
  • Did you understand what this example was trying to get across?

Organize and review their feedback, seeking clarification if you have questions about your testers’ responses. And, of course, update your course material based on their comments.

5. Launch Your Localized eLearning Course!

This is the moment when you’ll release your localized course into the wild – and, hopefully, to students who are more than eager to start taking it.

Launching your course is simple if you’ve localized it with Weglot: Weglot displays your finalized translations on your online learning website for you, so publish your translated web pages and you’re ready to promote your course everywhere.

Before launch day, you’ll probably have started marketing your course to get the word out about its upcoming availability. So don’t let such marketing momentum drop after the launch!

Incentivize students to promote your course to their friends (and get referral rewards in return), or run social media ads to introduce the course to potential students.

6. Update Your Localized Course Material Regularly

As students take your localized course, pay close attention to its reception. (Just like what you did for your test students, but on a larger scale.) You’ll get valuable feedback on how you can improve your course further.

Apart from that, some of the concepts discussed in your course may become outdated over time. Alternatively, certain examples or idioms you’ve included in your course content may fall out of favor and need replacing.

In such cases, update your localized course to teach your students the most current and accurate information. You could update your course incrementally as and when you need to, or collate such tasks for making a more extensive overhaul to your course at once.

Either way, be sure to publicize such course improvements! They provide easy material for new marketing campaigns promoting your course.

Choosing the Right eLearning Localization Partner

Give your eLearning localization strategy the best chance of success by picking the right partner for your course localization needs.

Criteria to consider as you search for localization service providers include their:

  • Expertise in eLearning localization: The partner should also be experienced in your course’s subject matter so it can advise on localizing these appropriately.
  • Understanding of the target culture: Pick a partner that knows your target audience inside out, including cultural nuances that may not be immediately obvious. Reading case studies of a potential partner’s past work can help you gauge their knowledge of your target audience’s culture.
  • Technological capabilities: Since you’re localizing an online course, your chosen partner must have the equipment and infrastructure for accessing, updating, and testing your course.

From a tools perspective, selecting the right solution for managing your eLearning localization efforts can also optimize your workflow and improve your localized course’s performance.

For example, we’ve already mentioned Weglot’s automatic content detection and translation capabilities, and how it combines machine and human translation to produce fast and high-quality website translations. As a result, Weglot makes it easier for you to roll out your localized course as quickly as possible.

Also built into Weglot are multilingual search engine optimization (SEO) features that help the language variants of your public-facing eLearning web pages rank well for online searches.

For instance, Weglot automatically implements hreflang tags to help search engines serve the right web pages to searchers with certain language and geographical location settings.

Then, when searchers browse the version of your eLearning website you’ve localized for them, they’ll be more likely to convert into paying course users – contributing revenue toward your bottom line.

Striking a Balance Between eLearning Localization and Standardization

The more your course material needs localizing, the more resources you’ll need to translate and adapt it.

So wherever possible, it may make sense to standardize your course content for international consumption – in other words, presenting your course in a way that students can comprehend regardless of the parts of the world they hail from.

For example, use symbols and graphics universally accepted to have a certain meaning. These include displaying the International Symbol of Access when talking about accessibility, or showing the heart symbol when discussing love-related concepts.

Since people worldwide are likely to understand what such graphics mean, you won’t have to update your material to include variants for each localized course version.

That said, you won’t be able to standardize everything in your course, and you shouldn’t. Making the necessary effort to adapt your course for your target audience will help students engage with your material, get more out of your course, and become advocates of your teachings.

Localize Your eLearning Course With Weglot

The online nature of eLearning courses already makes them convenient to distribute to students globally. You’ll just have to localize your courses for easy consumption in their native language and cultural context, so they have a reason to take your course over a competitor’s.

As you shortlist translation and localization partners for your eLearning course, give Weglot a try. Weglot can translate online courses of all sizes, from simple 3-page tutorials to courses spanning multiple modules and assessments.

The resulting translations are also high quality, freeing up your time and resources to focus on localizing them.

Weglot’s built-in team collaboration options help you bring in experts to perfect your localized course material, while its multilingual SEO features pave the way for your eLearning website to rank and attract international students.

Weglot integrates with leading website platforms like WordPress and Webflow, and custom-built sites. Start localizing your eLearning course by signing up for a free 10-day Weglot trial here.

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