e-learning is rapidly gaining popularity, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has contributed to the complete or partial movement of many activities to the online space. You may be surprised to hear that e-learning as a phenomenon has, in one form or another, been around for quite a long time.

In 1920, Sidney Pressey, a professor at Ohio State University, created the first testing machine, with a capacity of 100 questions. Although it could not teach, it allowed quick testing of knowledge.  The first real computer-based electronic learning system, called PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations), was created in 1960 by Donald Bitzer at the University of Illinois. The PLATO system was continuously improved and was in use up to the year 2000. The world’s first school of online learning—Whitemore School—was founded in 1994 by the educational organization CompuHigh. The term e-learning was first used and introduced to the professional environment over 20 years ago, in 1999, at a computer-based training seminar (CBT Systems) in Los Angeles.

A lot has certainly changed since then. Like any phenomenon, e-learning embraces new trends, which means that as a product it is becoming even more complex, multidimensional and multicomponent, and as a result, more interesting and in-demand in many countries around the world. This all leads to the requirement that e-learning courses be localized, often in many languages.

What are the particularities of e-learning course localization?

An e-learning product is always multicomponent: as a rule, it combines images, video, sound, animation, text, and special effects. Each individual component must be localized, i.e., it does not just require translation, but also adaptation. Then all the components of the product have to be combined in such a way that they appear unified and are an inseparable whole, in other words, that they coexist harmoniously.

In the process of localization, it is important to bear in mind that we are dealing with an educational product that will be used in the education process and serve the ambitious goal of teaching people new and useful things, so the preparation of versions in new languages must account for the cultural and other characteristics of the target countries. This means that the specialists involved need to have a broad outlook and even, to a certain extent, be psychologists.

High-quality localization and proper final “assembly” of a product require a large team of skilled professionals—linguists, programmers, testers, engineers, designers, and others—and the application of modern technological solutions. In addition, it is often necessary for the team working on the project to include experts in particular subject areas, depending on the topic of the e-learning product.

Thus, such an ambitious, serious task demands:

  • A team of specialists with both professional knowledge, as well as a variety of knowledge that allows them to navigate the vast sea of countries and cultures.
  • A strong technological basis—in-house and/or acquired tools and solutions to properly optimize the process of implementing an e-learning product localization project.
  • Solid experience accumulated in this area.

This is why it is best to use to companies that have proved themselves in the market in the localization of e-learning products. It is absolutely unacceptable for your education product to contain errors or inaccuracies, or to not correspond to the particular cultural parameters or other features of the target countries.

Large MLVs (Multiple-Language Vendors) generally have great potential in terms of turnkey implementation of various substantial and complex projects. The ability to scale up quickly, well-established relationships with in-house staff and external vendors and partners, handling adaptability, and well-established business processes by no means comprise the complete list of the strengths of such companies. Localization tasks for e-learning products are often outsourced: in cooperation with proven and responsible vendors with the necessary knowledge and experience in virtual education, the possibilities are truly limitless.