ELearning: How can Machine Translation help?

Machine translation and e-learning

With the e-learning industry crossing $315 billion in revenue, many companies are stepping into the lucrative sector. Trends also indicate strong growth of 20% or more in the coming decade. To stay ahead of the competition, organizations have to create high-quality learning material in a short span of time. While doing so in one language is possible, multiple languages become challenging. Yet globalization demands the translation of e-learning materials if you want to widen your reach. You are missing out on customers, partners, and talented employees from 85% of the globe if you only stick to English! Progressive e-learning applications use machine translation to build a database of training materials that anyone can use anywhere.

This article explores real-life examples of machine translation in e-learning and how it can help you reach your business goals faster. We also discuss key considerations for choosing the best machine translation technology for eLearning.

What is machine translation in eLearning?

Machine translation in eLearning uses software to translate all your course material automatically. All you have to do is select the source language and target language and enter your document into the system. A perfectly translated copy will come out ready to go.

If you are feeling skeptical about it — fear not. Advances in Artificial Intelligence technology have genuinely made this possible. Modern machine translation systems use neural networks, algorithms that mimic the human brain and teach themselves the nuances of different languages. Machine translation software learns as it translates, and the quality continues to improve over time. You can also use cloud-based solutions like Systran Translate Pro that are already mature and translate millions of documents daily. Such systems have been trained in domain-specific language terms for fields like finance, science, medicine, and law, so they accurately translate complex terminology.

Benefits of machine translation in eLearning

Using software to speed up your eLearning translation brings several advantages. It is cost-effective, efficient, and practical.

Significant cost savings

Human experts can charge $100/hr or more to translate complex content. Machine learning software costs pennies, in contrast. For example, Systran Pros costs 5 Euros(~$8) per month with a capacity to translate 150 document pages. Assuming a human can translate five pages an hour, even the most efficient human translator will charge $3000 for the same work. That’s a saving of 99.7%!

Faster time to market

Quality e-learning material takes time to prepare for the first time. You have to bring in subject matter experts and create audio/video scripts, images, questionnaires, and assignments. You don’t want to repeat all these time-consuming tasks for every language. Your software will take your primary content and translate it into multiple languages within seconds. For example, Systran supports 50 languages and over 100 language pairs. You can potentially expand from 1 to 50 new markets in a matter of months!

Increased efficiency

Having training material handy in multiple languages improves efficiency throughout the organization. For example, your managers can train new employees and partners from different geographical locations by passing on relevant material instead of translating in person. Also, employees can refer to the material anytime they have questions and quickly find the appropriate answers.

Reuse pre-made material

Some organizations have training archives in English that they cannot reuse due to language barriers. Others may have purchased organization-wide licenses for third-party training material but only some regions use it. Machine translation in eLearning increases both the reach and utilization of existing resources to improve productivity.

Real-life examples of machine translation in eLearning

Several organizations have used machine translation successfully for their eLearning use cases. We give some examples below.

Publishing courses for the global scientific community.

A large publishing house creates scientific and medical eLearning content for healthcare professionals. It uses machine translation to create content for French, Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean markets. They deliver video subtitles, transcriptions, and quizzes in all eight languages to reach a global customer market.

Securely sharing certification exam questions in multiple languages

A standardization and certification organization created a global certification process for IT security experts. They use machine translation to localize the certification exam questionnaire in seven languages; Japanese, Korean, German, Simplified Chinese, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The sensitive and confidential nature of the information required the highest security standards. The company successfully translated all data with software without violating data compliance laws.

Creating training material for sales teams around the globe

A large payroll solutions company implements a sales training solution for employees and customers in different countries. They use machine translation to publish the course in 8 languages (French, German, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Polish). The course has 26000 words of text, video transcriptions and course scripts. The team completed the project in 2.5 weeks with machine translation software.

Publishing self-serve customer support documentation for international customers

A Pdf software giant wanted to reduce customer support costs and queries in the international market. At the time, solving customer support queries took a lot of work due to the limited availability of bilingual staff. So instead, the company decided to use machine translation to create a self-serve database in languages like Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. Non-English customers can now search the translated support documents and find answers to FAQs, significantly reducing support costs.

How to choose the best machine translation software for eLearning

ELearning use cases require accuracy, security, and speed in translation. Before committing to a solution, make sure to check the following:

  • Language support for your chosen markets.
  • Domain support so technical terms in your learning material are translated accurately.
  • Secure infrastructure for data confidentiality and compliance.
  • Technical support for on-prem or enterprise solutions.
  • Ediscovery tools that can catalog and sort your content automatically before translating high-volume workloads.
  • Speech translation support for automatic subtitling of existing videos and audio.

Machine translation is the future for eLearning

Elearning trends indicate that more companies are turning to online learning solutions for employees and customers. As adoption increases, online students have more options. Students are looking for greater accessibility at reduced costs. They want learning materials they can access in their language and format of choice. They are looking for audio and video to supplement written material. To reach the international market cost-effectively, you require machine translation technology that can automatically translate text and speech for your eLearning solutions!

Alexandre Translation Technology Specialist
4 Min Read
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