Toward More Effective Technology

Now, more than ever, companies have a multicultural workforce with teams and leadership spreading across the globe. Yet for companies that require constant training and skills upgrading, a far-flung work force creates many training problems. Deploying a global e-learning platform would seem to offer the ideal solution. Yet, if not utilized correctly, this can cause more problems than it solves.

The good news is there are certain key aspects beyond translation that these companies can keep in mind to avoid common errors.

According to an American Society for Training and Development study, the majority of global companies do not have an established protocol for adapting learning content for different cultures. Yet only 25 percent address cultural difference that affect management. E-learning is certainly here to stay. But given such disappointing results, how can businesses be sure to get it right the first time?

How-to Tips and Tricks

Before you begin, establish a protocol for deciding what and how to adapt. Consistency is paramount in delivering e-learning content that can be useful globally.

>> Remember to start with the basics: the easiest aspects of learning content to adapt are language, visuals and IT delivery.

>> Present most content in images, and keep text to a bare minimum. This will require less translation as well as more easily navigated learning content.

>> Keep IT fresh, but don’t over-do it. The more razzle-dazzle you try to incorporate, the less coherent the core message of the content will be.

Potential Pitfalls

Remember that your audience is global, which means that not everyone is like yourself. Here are some common missteps that can be easily avoided:

>> Avoid ethnocentric symbols that may cause offense or be misconstrued. For instance, crosses, or body parts like hands and feet, may hold cultural significance. Stick to simple, universal signs and symbols.

>> Do not use puns, jokes, metaphors and slang. Not only are they notoriously difficult to translate, they are also notoriously offensive in different contexts. One culture’s humor may very well be another’s taboo.

>>Whenever possible, engage input from cultural natives. Budget time to pass drafts to colleagues in target cultural settings for pre-deployment feedback — the best way to avoid offense is to ask someone if they’re offended.

Professional Partner Selection

Being aware of cultural adaptability that requires the use of visual cues and simple localized languages to avoid ambiguity can make or break training materials in a global company — be sure to entrust your global content management to a professional company with a proven track record in the field.

–The author, Nicholas Goh, is the CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte. Ltd., an ISO 9001:2008-certified company specializing in a range of multilingual communication services that includes multilingual brand management, translation and localization, on-site interpretation, multilingual voice-overs and desktop publishing, e-learning and Web localization. For more information, visit the Website http://www.verztec.com

Now, more than ever, companies have a multicultural workforce with teams and leadership spreading across the globe. Yet for companies that require constant training and skills upgrading, a far-flung work force creates many training problems. Deploying a global e-learning platform would seem to offer the ideal solution. Yet, if not utilized correctly, this can cause more problems than it solves.

The good news is there are certain key aspects beyond translation that these companies can keep in mind to avoid common errors.

According to an American Society for Training and Development study, the majority of global companies do not have an established protocol for adapting learning content for different cultures. Yet only 25 percent address cultural difference that affect management. E-learning is certainly here to stay. But given such disappointing results, how can businesses be sure to get it right the first time?

How-to Tips and Tricks

Before you begin, establish a protocol for deciding what and how to adapt. Consistency is paramount in delivering e-learning content that can be useful globally.

>> Remember to start with the basics: the easiest aspects of learning content to adapt are language, visuals and IT delivery.

>> Present most content in images, and keep text to a bare minimum. This will require less translation as well as more easily navigated learning content.

>> Keep IT fresh, but don’t over-do it. The more razzle-dazzle you try to incorporate, the less coherent the core message of the content will be.

Potential Pitfalls

Remember that your audience is global, which means that not everyone is like yourself. Here are some common missteps that can be easily avoided:

>> Avoid ethnocentric symbols that may cause offense or be misconstrued. For instance, crosses, or body parts like hands and feet, may hold cultural significance. Stick to simple, universal signs and symbols.

>> Do not use puns, jokes, metaphors and slang. Not only are they notoriously difficult to translate, they are also notoriously offensive in different contexts. One culture’s humor may very well be another’s taboo.

>>Whenever possible, engage input from cultural natives. Budget time to pass drafts to colleagues in target cultural settings for pre-deployment feedback — the best way to avoid offense is to ask someone if they’re offended.

Professional Partner Selection

Being aware of cultural adaptability that requires the use of visual cues and simple localized languages to avoid ambiguity can make or break training materials in a global company — be sure to entrust your global content management to a professional company with a proven track record in the field.

–The author, Nicholas Goh, is the CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte. Ltd., an ISO 9001:2008-certified company specializing in a range of multilingual communication services that includes multilingual brand management, translation and localization, on-site interpretation, multilingual voice-overs and desktop publishing, e-learning and Web localization. For more information, visit the Website http://www.verztec.com

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