Training is no longer a tick-box exercise of simply watching a tutorial, following a list of instructions and then taking a quick exam at the end. It needs to inspire you, and motivate you to apply that lesson to your everyday world. Companies like D2L are tackling this very challenge for their customers by redefining the way content is delivered in virtual and interactive environments.
We spoke to Jeff Shepstone, Localization Manager at D2L – who recently won SDL’s Localization Manager of the Year Award – about the issues involved in translating engaging training content across 15 languages. He works with some of the globe’s biggest brands, and has adopted an agile way of working that’s following the sun and making the most of his global resources.
Tell us more about D2L
D2L believes learning is the foundation upon which all progress and achievement rests. Working closely with organizations globally, D2L has transformed the way millions of people learn online and in the classroom.
D2L’s vision is to transform the way the world learns. Today, the company works with customers in higher education, K12, healthcare, government, and the enterprise sector. Our localization team is responsible for translating all learning content, software and documentation into the customer’s desired language. That means liaising with authors, localization experts, software engineers and designers – across 15 countries, and delivering the standard of training content our customers need to make an impact.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Brands make the common mistake of thinking all their employees speak the same language. But it’ll surprise you to know how many speak another language at home. Research suggests that delivering training in a language other than the employee’s mother tongue has a negative impact, not just on motivation, but also on work performance.
Clearly there’s no point half-understanding a training course. One of our challenges is to ensure that the course’s message, objective and content remains clear and consistent throughout all our translations. It’s no easy task when you consider the amount of people required to create, manage, and deliver just one piece of content. Let alone a package of software, videos, and ebooks – for thousands of employees across a dozen languages.
We also need to deliver this standard of content at speed. Often this means working to tight deadlines, alongside our clients, to meet short and long term objectives. As an example, the EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means that businesses face a tight deadline of May 2018 to ensure all staff are trained, and knowledgeable about how they use, store and share customer information.
Some are working around the clock, and we’re supporting all their training efforts by co-ordinating our teams globally around their projects.
How have you worked with SDL?
We’ve been working with SDL for more than 5 years, initially to help translate pieces of content, but as the business grew, so too did the demand on our localization team connect with learners cross more languages. The team at SDL supports our localizations teams across all aspects of the translation supply chain – creating, translating, reviewing, and fine-tuning content for each of our customer’s language needs.
The team is now responsible for 15 languages. It would previously have taken months to create and design content, and then translate, QA test, and put it into production. It now takes us just one.
Tell us more about Agile
About 3 years ago we decided a new way of working was needed. We outgrew the traditional waterfall methodology, which approaches projects in a linear and sequential way. But it couldn’t keep up with us. We needed a ‘follow the sun’ approach to our work, using our global teams to scale up and down when required.
Our move to agile has been a turning point for us, and SDL has helped champion this new way of thinking.
SDL helps automate not just those mundane tasks – like forwarding, tracking reviews – but removes all the steps that don’t add value to the process. SDL’s Machine Translation technology handles high volumes of translations, and our human translators provide that finishing touch. Our design teams, for instance, work closely with writers to ensure that text always fits the screen size. It’s about identifying issues like these at an early stage that would only normally surface when going live.
These teams operate from different time-zones, but it works when you plan ahead. If you have the right processes in place, with the right skills, then there’s no reason why you can’t maintain a 24/7 working model. We apply that thinking to the entire translation supply chain. We’ve managed to orchestrate all components in a way that we’re able to move forward together on a project, and get products released faster – and to a higher standard.
By simply working in a different way, we’re able to support more projects – it’s why I am passionate about this way of working. It makes a difference to the team because everyone can see they’re pulling in the right direction, and ultimately, we’re able to give everyone access to the best possible learning opportunities.
If you’d like to find out if your training initiatives are falling short, why not watch SDL’s presentation at Learning Technologies 2018?