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International E-Learning Part 3: Proven Production Techniques

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout, and in Part 2 we looked at how to overcome these challenges. In this third part, we’ll look at the proven production techniques CDSM used to deliver Honda’s e-learning programme across Europe, with award-winning results.

Content is King

You’ll want the production of your e-learning to be as quick and efficient as possible, avoiding any unnecessary delays. This means that you need to plan each step of the production process carefully, considering the order of work and any interdependencies.

Proven production techniques - Happy business people working as a team

So where do we start? Well, in our case, content really is king. It determines how a programme of study is broken up, how the pages will be laid out and what assets need to be collected or created. Almost every part of the production process is informed by the content. Using theories about how we learn, our instructional designers started each module of Honda’s award-winning e-learning by creating a storyboard that provided all of the detail.

Upon customer sign-off of a storyboard, a number of teams – including graphic designers, animators, translators and technical authors – spring into action, bringing the storyboard to life (but always staying faithful to the instructional designer’s intent). In fact, the instructional designer is never too far away, as they need to ensure their vision is realised.

Quality is Everyone’s Responsibility

At CDSM, we firmly support W. Edwards Deming’s statement that “quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Although we have a dedicated quality assurance team who ensure project and product releases are thoroughly tested, every member of staff at CDSM is committed to producing work to the highest standard. Testing happens at every stage in our production process to safeguard quality and meet internal and external benchmarks. Our instructional designers not only check their own content, but also peer review each other’s, and our developers write unit tests for their work before they even start developing a feature. The final layer of internal quality assurance is added by our project managers, who perform spot checks before a project is released.

Ticking the boxes - e-learning programme
Our customers also have a part to play. We build user acceptance testing (UAT) into our schedules, ensuring that our customers have the opportunity to give feedback prior to release. We recognised that Honda were the subject specialists, so their feedback on the subject matter was invaluable, and helped us to fine-tune the course content.

Managing Rollout

Having produced innovative, high quality e-learning, we then had to consider the rollout schedule with Honda. With branches spanning Europe, there were a range of factors to take into account. We had to ensure that the e-learning was delivered to each country at the right time, in line with Honda’s product releases. Translation of the content was scheduled to meet each country’s delivery date. This was no mean feat and meant a rolling schedule of releases as opposed to the usual end of project delivery, but careful planning and ongoing communication with Honda ensured success.

If you want to find out more, download our expert guide: ‘How to Create Award-Winning E-Learning.’

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International E-Learning Part 2: How to Overcome the Challenges of Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout. In this second part, we’ll look at how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful rollout across multiple countries.

International E-Learning Part 2

As explained in Part 1, performing an international rollout of an e-learning programme is a massive feat, with large scale co-ordination and organisation required. With 10,000 learners, spread over four-million square miles, our rollout of e-learning across all European Honda dealerships is a fantastic example of how to strike a balance between concept and budget. Our experience with this type of rollout has enabled us to develop innovative solutions to the challenges detailed in Part 1, and we want to share them with you.

Piloting to Success

We found that piloting is a really useful exercise, as it enabled us to engage with end users in different cultures and understand their preferences. We received first-hand feedback from the people who were actually using our content. Not only was this of great benefit to us, but it also made the users feel involved in the development of the programme, helping to increase the uptake and buy-in as the e-learning was rolled out.

However, with budget constraints in mind, it’s not possible to pilot everywhere. With Honda, we found that using their in-country representatives (i.e. Honda Area Managers) to devolve some of the piloting across their region made the localisation process easier without having an exorbitant cost.

Many Different Languages

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’. This focus on standards was a key foundation block for our work with Honda, and allowed us to ensure a consistency in translation across countries.

We worked with reps from different Honda regions to aid the creation of the company’s Pan-European Specification of Standards. This gave us and Honda’s L&D professionals a universal database, helping to decrease lengthy back-and-forth discussions over terminology, processes, etc.

Our partnership with SDL enabled a smooth translation process, avoiding the possibility of the procedure becoming a bottleneck in the project (in Part 3, we’ll look at how we achieved this in more detail).

Future-Proofing Technology

The consideration of what technology to use is a major evaluation point in the production of e-learning. With Honda, we overcame the problems of different user setups (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.) by creating a custom user interface, adopting cloud-based media file delivery, and enabling cross-browser support. To learn more, take a look at our white paper for the Honda project: ‘How to Produce Gold Award-Winning E-Learning’.

We also invested a lot of time in future-proofing. Several years ago, in response to the increasing impact of mobile devices in learning, we made the decision to move to using HTML5 and JavaScript as our core technology for presenting interactive content. Although we were under no pressure to render Adobe Flash Player obsolete within Honda’s e-learning programme, our commitment to HTML5 and JavaScript meant we avoided a logistical headache when the recent Flash vulnerabilities came to light.

Lighter Push Load

A key part of making the administration load lighter for Honda was the creation of engaging, contemporary e-learning. This meant that minimal pushing was required on the part of the customer.

When performing an international e-learning rollout, the last thing you want is your admin team spending all their time nagging people to complete it. Creating e-learning that engages the end user means that administration time can be better spent synchronising product releases and further training with what’s happening in the business.

It’s also important to make tracking and reporting as easy as possible, and with an LRS (Learner Record Store) in place you’ll get full coverage of everything including what works and what doesn’t without having any impediment on your LMS.

These are just a few of the ways we managed to overcome the challenges of rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. In Part 3, we’ll share the clever production technique we used to ensure the successful rollout of Honda’s BER course.

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International E-Learning Part 1: 5 Challenges When Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In this first part, we’re going to look at the 5 challenges we think you need to consider, and how they can impact on the success of the rollout.

International E-Learning

  1.       Production Preferences

How do you actually produce content that’s going to work across different countries? Each country is different, and the people you deal with from each country will have a variety of specific likes and dislikes – so how far do you let them pick and choose what they want?

Before you begin working on an international e-learning rollout, you need to decide how accommodating you are prepared (and able) to be. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re creating bespoke content for each individual country, as this will not be practical or cost effective.

However, that’s not to say you don’t want to consider a country’s preferences and cultural differences, but it’s about finding a balance that won’t put pressure on production.   

  1.       Cultural Differences

You need to distinguish between objections that arise from personal preferences, and objections that are linked to cultural differences. Vague objections such as “it’s not like that in our market” will need to be explored to gain a better understanding of what is appropriate.

Again, decisions will need to be made about how accommodating you can be. For example, some countries will be adamant that their end users prefer video in their own language, rather than subtitles, but this could mean that production costs spiral out of control.

Demonstrating the benefits of a one-size-fits-all approach will help to ease tension – with an emphasis placed on the way that a centralised process ensures consistent, high-quality content. But remember, failing to recognise the importance of differences in culture between countries may mean that your end users feel disengaged, so make sure that every country-specific objection is carefully considered.

  1.       Translation

Translation can be a major challenge. For example, German text is typically 35% longer than English text, which can pose a problem if your content needs to fit in a set amount of space. So creating a consistent production process for translating e-learning into different languages is crucial.

Ultimately, all translations will be proofed by the country of origin, and then these checks themselves will need to be evaluated – are they asking for terminology changes or preferential changes? The more leeway that’s given, the more processes there are to undertake.

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’.

  1.       Technologies

Rolling out e-learning to multiple countries means catering for a diverse user base, not just in terms of language and culture, but technology too. How do you ensure that you are catering for users accessing the e-learning in different geographical locations with different setups? (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.)

For example, if the e-learning has sizeable media content, this will cause problems for users with low bandwidths. There may be an opportunity to create a ‘no-frills’ version of the e-learning for this type of user, with text summaries of video content and animations. Sizeable media content could then be placed in a separate repository within the UI for them to view if they wish.

However, creating branched versions for different user types can drive up costs, and so it may be more effective to perform an evaluation of potential content prior to production, making decisions about what content is absolutely necessary for the end user.

  1.       Administration

Rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries will require a substantial amount of administration. This could range from setting up the e-learning on the LMS, to tracking and reporting the progress of end users.

Administration may also extend to promoting the completion of the programme, and synchronising the learning with other training.

This amount of administration will undoubtedly be time-consuming should you decide to take it on yourself. And if your e-learning is a compliance box-tick, then you may not have time to remedy any problems experienced by users, or gain a deeper understanding of the actual effectiveness of the e-learning.

These are the five main challenges you will come up against when rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. They may make an international rollout seem daunting, but don’t feel apprehensive…in Part 2, we’ll explore how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful roll out across multiple countries.

Got to International E-Learning Part 2 >

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