Your First eLearning Localization Project: The 5 Key Phases

Your First eLearning Localization Project The 5 Key Phases
Summary: The success of any eLearning localization project depends on developing a robust process and drawing on deep linguistic, cultural and regional expertise. Read on to discover how to do both and generate better outcomes for your learners and your business.

How To Launch Your First eLearning Localization Project

It's never too early to start thinking about localization. In fact, the ideal time to consider your localization needs is before you start to create your eLearning content. This will lead you away from creating materials that are, for example, overly culturally specific or developed in formats that are difficult to work with.

eBook Release:  Getting Started With eLearning Localization
eBook Release
Getting Started With eLearning Localization
Discover how to run your first localization project (and how to choose the right partner).

1. Planning For Success

Whatever your starting point, careful planning and preparation will help you minimize localization challenges and drive more successful outcomes.

Set Clear Objectives

Is your goal to increase learner engagement? Improve learner outcomes? Support expansion into new markets? Set clear objectives and allow them to guide your conversations with your localization partner and shape your strategy.

Identify Priority Courses And Modules

Conduct a thorough analysis of your existing eLearning materials to pinpoint the ones that best support your goals, as well as those you can most easily modify for your new audience. Prioritizing these materials will allow you to accelerate and maximize the return on your investment in localization.

Prepare Your Multimedia

Images, animations, videos, podcasts – they can all be essential parts of eLearning courses, helping to increase learner understanding and engagement. But when it comes to localization, multimedia content can pose real challenges. For example, your images may have embedded text or symbols that need to change. Your videos may include embedded slogans or voiceovers. To prevent delays and additional costs, make sure any content you need to localize is saved in a format that allows for quick editing and sharing.

Organize Your Files To Save Time Later

If you're localizing an existing eLearning course, gather all the documents and files, including text, HTML, images, videos, and software, and organize them so it's easier for your localization team to do their job. Delivering scattered documents, PDFs, or weblinks can overcomplicate the localization process, making it more time-consuming and costly.

Prepare A Glossary And Style Guide

To build a consistent global brand, it's essential that key terms and design choices remain consistent across your localized eLearning content. The best way to keep everything on brand? Prepare a style guide and glossary for your localization experts. Your style guide should cover guidance on your brand voice and tone, as well as the grammatical conventions you follow, your preferred fonts, bullet points, and more. Your glossary will define industry-specific terms and phrases used in your brand's content, helping to ensure correct translation and localization.

Build A Budget And A Timeline

Managing an eLearning localization project to completion can be a complex process, especially if it's your first time. It's a good idea to establish a budget and a timeline that leaves some wiggle room for the unexpected. Your budget should factor in the human resources you'll need from your internal learning and development team as well as your localization partner, plus any new software you'll need to invest in. Similarly, your timeline needs to consider all the multiple moving parts that make up any localization project. Doing your due diligence at this stage will prevent problems down the road and help you monitor your progress.

2. Identifying The Right Localization Partner

The right localization partner will have the experience and linguistic and regional expertise to support every aspect of your current localization project, as well as your future localization needs.

What To Look For: Expertise

An ideal partner will have a proven track record of delivering localization for a wide range of global brands, as well as a deep understanding of the linguistic and cultural requirements of your target regions, plus a good grounding in your own industry. They'll be able to help you at every stage of the localization process–from identifying your localization needs and objectives to evaluating eLearning platforms and methodologies, considering budgets and timelines, and ultimately finding the right approach for your project.

If you need them to, they'll also be able to manage any or all parts of your localization project on your behalf. When evaluating the quality of a potential partner's services, the best thing you can do is to request a customer reference. An ideal partner will have helped other companies in your industry with similar projects – so explore the customer success stories published on their website and seek the opinions of your peers.

What To Look For: Scalability

You may not be creating content for a specific market today, but what about in two years' time? Whether you're a global enterprise or a fast-growing startup, your eLearning needs are bound to change as your organization does. It makes sense to choose a localization partner that can adapt to your shifting requirements and scale with you. Knowing that your partner's capacity and capabilities extend beyond your current needs will allow your organization to grow with confidence.

What To Look For: Services And Technology

A first-rate localization partner will support your ambitions, not limit them. Their services should cover the localization of every kind of eLearning content into all your target languages. They'll also be able to author localized eLearning content for you, helping you develop courses for multiple target audiences at the same time. (More on this approach - called 'concurrent authoring' - in the next section.) Remember to consider the technical practicalities of localization. A great partner won't force you to use specific tools and technologies–instead, they'll have the expertise, flexibility, and integrations to work with your existing eLearning platform.

What To Look For: Data Security And Compliance

Any creditable eLearning localization partner will be ready to disclose how they handle user data. Ask potential providers:

  • Do you have encryption protocols?
  • Who has access to user data?
  • How long do they keep it?

It's also vital your localization partner observes the data regulations that apply in your learner's regions, such as the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Choosing a partner that can readily demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations worldwide will protect you from potential legal issues while helping you build trust among your users.

What To Look For: Transparent, Flexible Pricing

Because localization projects depend on multiple moving parts, you'll want a partner that shows you exactly what you're paying for, breaking down every cost. A great partner will always be willing to explain their pricing models and work with you to find the best possible solution for your needs and your budget.

What To Look For: A Global Service With Local Customer Support

Choose a partner with a global network of local specialists, and you'll have easy access to all the localization skills you need, from instructional design to functionality testing. What's more, your partner will be able to make sure your content is always handled by native speakers in your target regions.

3. Applying The Right Approach For Your First eLearning Localization Project

The right way to create your localized eLearning content will depend on everything from the content you already have to the complexity of your subject matter and target languages.

Translation And Localization

Are you localizing an existing eLearning course? Does the localization require a relatively low level of linguistic and cultural adaptation? Is the content easy to localize without niche knowledge? If your answer to all these questions is "yes," you'll almost certainly want to take a traditional localization approach.

Concurrent Authoring

Let's say you need to create new eLearning content for multiple audiences, each with significant cultural differences. In this scenario, creating content in a single source language before translating and localizing it for your other audiences is far from ideal, requiring localization specialists to deconstruct and rebuild what you've just created. A smarter approach is concurrent authoring, in which localization specialists create content tailored to the needs of each audience simultaneously. This not only saves time, but allows your in-field specialists to create eLearning courses that are built from the ground up to suit regional content consumption preferences.

A Hybrid Approach

Often, the right approach for your localization project won't be localization or concurrent authoring but a combination of both approaches. A good localization partner will work closely with you to identify the right approach in every instance.

4. Quality Assurance

Localized content needs to be correct and consistent across languages. And that makes effective quality control a must. Your partner should edit and proofread localized content and test it within the eLearning platform, seeking feedback from user groups that represent each target audience. And, of course, they should check courses and updates thoroughly before they are published. Your partner should also perform mobile, tablet, and browser optimization to make sure every learner gets the experience you've so carefully designed.

5. Ongoing Optimization

The localization process doesn't stop when you hit "publish." As learners begin to interact with your localized content, it's important to seek their feedback and address any cultural and functional issues they raise. Work with your partner to analyze the performance of your localized content over time. This will help you identify and troubleshoot problems, further hone your eLearning content to support your learners' needs, and deliver ever-better outcomes.

Localization Is Complex. But It Doesn't Need To Be Difficult.

There's a lot you need to consider when embarking on an eLearning localization project. There's also a lot you might need to learn, from advanced project management to international data regulations. But you don't have to do it alone. A trusted, experienced localization partner won't just act as your guide; they'll be able to fill knowledge and skills gaps and drive your project towards successful outcomes – for you and your learners.

At RWS, we've developed our renowned localization services over decades of close partnership with global corporate training teams. Organizations of all sizes choose RWS because of our experience and expertise, our global network of specialists, and our ability to support every stage of the localization process with a tailored, end-to-end solution.

Download Getting Started With eLearning Localization today to plan for success and choose the best localization specialist for your organization.