Efficient Translation of E-Learning Courses

Be it e-learning courses or documentations. The corporate world prefers to localize them for the worldwide adoption. Localization industry is so massive and almost comparable with the e-learning industry itself. The localization industry made revenue of about $ 27Bn in 2010 and growing at the rate of 13% annually.

While there are 1000s of vendors providing services ranging from translation, quality check and courseware translation there are few who stands out as market leaders.

I could think about few factors which differentiates the market leaders in this industry from the rest. Some of the interesting factors detailed below:



Storing the all the text in XML files and loading them dynamically is a crucial technique in the localization courseware development.

1) ??This way there will be one shell and depending the language configured it will load the localized contents stored in the XML.

2) In most cases the courseware developers would be different from the actual translators. These translators would not be capable of getting into the course and translate page by page themselves. They would rather utilize few special tools which load the text from the XMLs in a friendly interface to write the translations

3) The translated contents will be published again like the original XML files format and they will be simply sent back to the courseware developers for integration

This process is extremely efficient compare to manual copy pasting of text. This helps the vendors to greatly reduce effort with the courseware development



The fuzziness refers to the terms/sentences which are repeated multiple times within the contents supplied for the translation. For example let’s consider a course of 100 slides and an average of 200 words per slide. In total we are looking at about 20,000 words to be translated in this course. Now at the translators end the tools they use will have few smart features. They will be smart enough to automatically detect and fetch some of the translations performed earlier.

This means for translators they may not be required to retype each keyword and sentence and on average they save about 15-20% of their time depending on the fuzziness level.

So most translators will offer some discount based on the fuzziness. For large scale projects this is a very big deal in terms of cost saving.


Reusable Assets/Dynamic Layouts

Reusable components play a big part in localizations. For example a flash based player and templates will serve as content holders and depending on chosen language the text and visuals could load. The trick here is how dynamic the templates could be. For example a sentence in English could be much lengthier in German. So the template should automatically adjust its layout for the best fit of the contents. The more dynamic they could be the less rework will be for each language.

Similarly articulate based courses might require video with transcripts or flash animations with text labels. Such components can be again designed to load the text from xml files so that same component can be reused at each language’s PPT file.


Quality Check

Translating the text is one part, but once they are integrated into the course making sure that they exactly appear as the translated contents is another important part. In other words this is called script to screen comparison. Some vendors send the translated courses back to the translators for quality check but that could be very expensive sometimes more expensive than the translation cost itself.

Doing the quality check at the course developer’s end could be very cost effective, but the tricky part is, a quality analyst can’t really understand what’s written on the screen. So he/she needs to perform the literally a graphical comparison between script to screen. For simple languages with characters like English (e.g. French, Italian, German, Spanish) it might be a doable job. For complex languages like Chinese or Hungarian doing a script to screen comparison will really test the team’s ability and patience.

To tackle such challenges some of the technicians in my past projects came up with a creative solution. A quality analyst will take a screenshot from the course and extract the text out of it with a help of an OCR tool. The extracted text will be copied into a tool along with the source text from the script. The tool will do a character to character comparison and will highlight the mismatches if any. This technique really saved a massive effort and frustration for the quality check team. In my opinion innovative techniques like these really helps to establish a long term and sustainable business.


Cost Per Language

If an organization manages to apply most the effort saving processes such some of the examples explained above they will not only able to provide their clients with a cost efficient service but they will also able to produce courses at record timeframe!

I have observed that the leaders in this segment able to localize an 1 hour (or 30 pages) e-learning course for less than $ 10,000 whereas other organizations charge almost 3 times due to the manual activities involved at every stage of production. When a client wants to localize a course in 20 different languages this will result a massive cost saving and they will never think of turning to a different vendor easily.


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  1. fashion photography says:

    Hello there, I found your blog via Google at the same time as looking for a related topic, your website came up, it appears great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  2. Mrs. Mrunal Bhongale says:

    Good Read Indeed!

  3. Ella says:

    Interesting article and thanks for sharing. For companies supporting an international workforce, multilingual e-learning programs have become an absolute necessity for ongoing success.

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