The business case for e-learning is well-established, but what about the business case for e-learning translation? How can you assess the ROI of translating and localizing e-learning for foreign-language audiences?
First, let’s look briefly at the factors for analyzing the expected return on e-learning itself. We will then look at how translation and localization affect each of these factors.
Expect these benefits, costs, and risks to creating e-learning.
This ROI analysis is also relevant for training and educational companies that are developing e-learning modules for sale. The costs of development and support may be similar. However, the high upfront costs would amortize across a large number of customers. Also, any new staff hired to work on development and marketing of the modules will support the company’s main mission: the development and sale of educational courses.
The main risk of developing e-learning content for sale is, of course, the market risk. Will the product’s sales justify the costs of development? Answer this as you would with any other service or product. Analyze the demand, research the competition, and focus on your particular market strengths.
So you’ve done this analysis and decided to go ahead with development. Why incur the extra costs of e-learning translation and localization?
Too often, considerations of whether to translate e-learning focus almost entirely on the costs involved. The benefits of developing e-learning courses in the first place may be obvious. However, translating and localizing a course may seem unnecessary when “all our employees ‘know’ English” or “we can just sell to English speakers.”
The quality of online instruction directly impacts the quality of students’ learning. “Quality” is compromised when educational materials are not localized. People learn best in their own language. In fact, research has shown that people who are taught something in another language often think they understand more than they actually do. They make sense out of it, but possibly not the sense you want them to make. For them, a well-implemented course means one in their own language, using examples and relatable teaching styles. A failure to localize can negatively impact the expected benefits from the training and decrease the acceptability of the e-learning course in other markets.
We do not want to minimize the costs involved in e-learning translation, especially if it is carried out according to best practices. Here are the steps, each with its own costs in time and money:
Minimize the costs of e-learning translation by taking localization into account from the start. These up-front costs may be necessary to realize the most benefits (educated employees or expanded sales) from your investment in e-learning development.
Research indicates that people are more likely to buy products in their own language. How much more likely is this to be true for training materials? Most people are strongest in their native language. Given any choice, it’s very likely that they will choose something in their own language, even if it costs more.
E-learning is booming, and we should expect a rise in demand for it. To fully realize the benefits of bringing e-learning courses to other cultures, expert localization is vital.