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The Evolution of eLearning and Localization

With the rise of globalization, companies are focusing more and more on localizing their training courses and eLearning material. Localizing content helps to ensure that a growing global workforce receives an adequate training and the necessary education to support global market expansion. In this blog, we’ll look at the history and evolution of eLearning, how eLearning is deployed, the expansion of localization services and the important role that culture plays in localization.

eLearning History and Evolution

eLearning has come a long way from the early 1960s when Stanford University psychology professors Patrick Suppes and Richard C. Atkinson first experimented with using computers to teach math and reading to elementary school children in Palo Alto, California. At the beginning, eLearning systems were based on Computer-Based Learning (CBL) and training, which were conducted in a quite traditional teaching style. This type of learning system was meant to simply transfer knowledge. More recent systems were based on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, which were based on the premise of developing knowledge collaboratively, as the name indicates.


The emergence of Web 2.0 also prompted an evolution in the way eLearning was conducted and delivered. Until then, conventional eLearning systems were based on instructional packets delivered via training assignments, which were then evaluated by the teachers and instructors giving the training. In contrast, eLearning 2.0 assumes that knowledge is socially constructed, and it therefore places an emphasis on social learning. This includes social software such as blogs, wikis and podcasts – a phenomenon that is also referred to as Long Tail Learning.

Social networks have also been used to foster online learning communities around specific subjects in the areas of test preparation and language education. For example, Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) is a term used to describe using handheld computers or cell phones to assist in language learning.

eLearning will continue to evolve and advance, as revenue has shown. Global eLearning revenue reached $107 billion in 2015, and it’s forecasted to grow to $325 billion by 2025. As a translation company with years of experience localizing eLearning content, we’ve seen more growth and the evolution of more video-based learning, mobile learning and gaming. We’ve also seen companies that are producing a greater quantity of shorter learning modules. Companies are also taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to hone in on users’ needs and tailor the content to them.

eLearning Deployment

So how exactly is eLearning developed and delivered? A learning management system (LMS) is software used for delivering, tracking and managing training. LMSs range from systems for managing training/educational records, software for distributing courses over the Internet and tools for online collaboration. An LMS provides multiple benefits to instructors and administrators by offering the ability to track time spent on a specific task, scoring and completion rates, and overall progress and areas of concern that may require additional training/instruction. Students also benefit in that they can log on to the LMS to submit assignments, access the course syllabus and lessons, and collaborate with other students and teachers.

eLearning comprises all forms of electronically supported eLearning and teaching. Applications include web-based and computer-based training that can be conducted via the Internet, intranet/extranet or CD/DVD. Using media in the form of text, images, video and animation has become more prevalent. Companies continue to use traditional delivery methods such as conducting training via tools like WebEx and displaying PowerPoint slides.

The eLearning tools becoming more and more prevalent in the market are rapid eLearning development tools, which make course development faster and some aspects of it much easier and less costly. Two of the most widely used and popular ones are Articulate Storyline and Articulate Rise.


Some common features of both tools include:

  • Quiz and/or assessment development
  • LMS connectivity
  • Flash-based output
  • Learning interactions
  • eLearning widgets
  • Software simulation

As authoring tools continue to evolve, there’s no substitute for knowing how to use them efficiently and effectively. The more skilled and experienced the creator or user is in using these tools, the better the results will be. In GPI our eLearning professional team is well acquainted with all the below tools:

  • Articulate Rise
  • Articulate Studio
  • Adobe Presenter
  • iSpring
  • Camtasia

Expansion of eLearning Localization Services

As companies continue to expand globally, and to meet the needs of non-native English speakers in the U.S., eLearning needs to meet the needs of these workers. Traditional global training courses may have included the translation of posters, manuals, surveys, employee handbooks, flashcards and curricula that outline training schedules and unit plans covering actual content. However, more companies are now translating additional eLearning and web-based components such as:

  1. Training videos that require voicing and/or subtitling in addition to the localization of the actual scripts. Check our Audio and Video Localization Services for more information.
  2. Flash presentations that require full localization and/or voicing audio tracks.
  3. Online assessments at the end of training modules may need localization. These may require specific encoding in order to display correctly.

And of course, final testing and QA is critical for all online content and eLearning to make sure the content has no errors and is localized properly.

Cultural Considerations

Simply translating content into the target languages spoken in the countries your global workforce resides in is only one part of the equation. Training modules that share a global image and brand still have to be adapted to local audiences in order to make your global training initiatives a true win-win. For example, things like images and terminology may not translate well into another language. Here are a few examples of these cultural considerations:

  • Consider proper names and whether these can be localized or not. For example, McDonald’s BigMac or Dairy Queen’s Blizzard remain in English vs. others that are localized into the target language.
  • Take into account that instructions that it’s easier to translate clearly labeled with lots of images and limited text, while also making it easy for learners to understand.
  • Consider whether images need to be localized. For example, pictures of Japanese workers for a Japanese carmaker may have to be replaced or supplemented with pictures displaying a more culturally diverse workforce in order to target a global audience.
  • Multinational corporations may have to modify their training material due to local worker’s laws and seek prior approval by a worker’s council. Keep that in mind when setting launch dates as additional time may be needed to get approval from local worker’s councils and unions.


Regardless of the type of eLearning initiatives your company launches, be it elaborate training modules using video or simple PowerPoint presentations, the objective should always remain the same: train effectively, coach and mentor tirelessly, and pay attention to details. The only way to make sure your global staff represents your brand as effectively as your marketing team down the hall envisioned it is to fully immerse yourself into the unique and enriching cultural challenges and opportunities your global staff presents to your organization.

GPI, a premiere translation company, provides comprehensive localization and translation services for eLearning and training courses. Our eLearning localization services team will help you translate your eLearning courses and presentations in all languages.