Category E-Learning essentials

Video topic setup (2) – sample files


After selecting your topic and creating a list of sub-topics and a structure for the video, there is one more step that can take quite some time – the creation of samples.

Very often, I know exactly what I want to show, but creating the right sample file for the purpose is not as easy as it looks like.

First, it should be a sample in the right language – if I create a German video, I try to use German source text in my samples. For other languages I tend to create separate sample documents instead of just translating existing ones. The obvious reason is that not everything that work in one language works also in another. Prominent example would be the use of numbers and dots in German (Das 3. Treffen der 2. Gruppe…) which can be nicely used to show segmentation issues in a translation tool. But the same example does not work for English (The second meeting of the third group…).

Next it should be simple, very very simple. The simpler the text the more people concentrate on the actual feature.

During my early training days some 15 years back I already used such very simple files. You know “this is a test”, “this is another test” etc. Some people (translators) complained that these simple segments did not represent the kind of text they had to deal with and they asked for some more sophisticated texts. When I tried that in my next class it turned out that now the participants were arguing over how to translate a sentence correctly instead of listening to me while I explained the feature. That is why I now use very short, simple sentence (and tell my audience why I do so, to avoid any discussion).

My motto is: One sentence – one feature. I found that it is easier to focus on the features of a software if one sample only applies to one specific feature you want to show. So one segment for showing the term check, another for showing a certain match value, another for showing the number substitution etc. People tend to get confused if the same sentence is used to show different features.

The hardest thing is the logical sequence of things to show. The sentences in the sample document do not need to make sense as a text, but the things you want to show will have a certain logic to them and therefore the sample sentences should follow that logic.

As our learning bits are quite small, so should be the sample files – short and easy to navigate. Put too much into one sample file and you keep jumping around in the file, losing your participants. The more you show them the more they will try to find out what the other sentences are there for which will distract them from the actual goal.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

Video topic setup (1) – topic selection and structure


Having said in an earlier post that the smaller the learning unit gets the better the trainer needs to prepare such a topic, I would like to share with you how I approach the creation of a new video.

1. Select the topic

This sounds much easier than it actually is. The topic should not be too big or small. You need to be able to cover every angle of it within a maximum of 15 minutes. Also, if this topic ties in with other topics, there needs to be a logical sequence or each topics needs to be self-explaining to be able to stand alone.

Example: Topic = XML in translation

Too big -> split up into: XML basics, XML filter creation, XML in tool A, XML in tool B, multilingual XML, specialized XML like XLIFF or TMX, details in XML (attributes, elements, conditions, entities)…

2. Decide on the sequence.

Decide on the general structure (for learning purposes, it is useful to have the same structural setup for every video). Here is what I came up with:

  • Introduction (what is it good for, when do we use it, what will you learn to do…)
  • Setting the stage (give the basic background information a user needs to understand the following explanations: examples of when such a feature would be used, describe the situation when this feature might come in handy…)
  • Technical groundwork(information on what the feature does, what kind of input it needs and what kind of output is to be expected)
  • The show (video or slides with screenshots of the process)
  • Conclusion (summarize the process, what goes in, what happens, what goes out, when is it useful)
  • But wait, there’s more (additional information on pitfalls, things to consider, mistakes that can be made, things this feature cannot do)

Example: This is roughly what I would do, if the topic was “Analysis Statistics”.

  • To create word counts and match statistics
  • Used for pricing in translation projects
  • Estimation of workload
Setting the stage
  • What does the statistic do (count words, compare source language sentences/segments)?
  • Where and when can you run the statistics?
  • How do the results look like?
Technical groundwork
  • What is a word and how do different tools count words
  • What is matching and what different match values are there
The show
  • Select files in a project and start the statistics feature
  • Go through the settings and explain what they mean
  • Create the statistics
  • Explain how to read the outcome
  • Export the statistics
  • What do you use the analysis for?
  • When do you run the statistics?
  • What can the statistics tell you and what not?
But wait, there’s more
  • What settings can influence the number of words or segments?
  • What other settings can influence the match values (penalties on TM segments or alignments…)
  • What if the statistics tell you there are more words in the file than there could be (pitfalls, mistakes that can happen…)?

What do you think? Looking forward to your feedback.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

How small can it get?



I have noticed that I tend to expect smaller and smaller pieces of information that focus on the exact aspect I am interested in. How about you? How much of a text on a website, in a newspaper or in an e-mail do you really read before skipping to the next paragraph?

The same thing happens in education. Instead of the 3-day training classes for Trados tools that I started with in 1997, I am now asked to cram all important information on much more complex tools into one day – without exercises. But what I also see happening is that the companies expect their employees to be able to work efficiently with a tool after a ½-day introduction. No time for learning by doing, no time to make mistakes, no time to try out features and processes and adapt them to the way you work. Mostly, this means that people will not work with the tools at all (I see that because one year after the initial training, the clients ask me to do another training, because they did not have time to implement the tool yet…).

So we move more and more into self-paced online training, which is a good addition, but not the best way to go for everybody

And make no mistake, the smaller the learning items get, the better the trainer has to be who creates those learning bits. They need to be able to focus on one particular feature without leaving out all the background information that you will need to understand the feature and to be able to use it effectively. A video that only tells you to click A then click B without telling you why and what you will need to consider before you click these options is not a training video – it is a video and audio representation of most online help contents I have seen so far – which mostly is not as helpful as the name Online Help suggests 🙂

So, how small is still big enough to be useful?


From my own experience, I would say anything up to 5-8 minutes will be watched fully. Anything that is longer than that, people will start skipping parts or do something else on the side.

What is your opinion on this? Looking forward to your input and experience.


(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

A Global Learning Ecosystem for the Localization Industry


The Localization Industry is a young, vibrant, and growing industry, which I have been privileged to be part of for over 25 years in various roles, both as a manager and an individual contributor. During my time as Localization Manager at Cisco Systems in the early 2000s, one of the biggest challenges I faced was finding suitable and affordable training for my staff. Sending people to industry conferences has been desirable and popular with my staff, but not always feasible because of the cost involved. Hiring trainers and coaches to come onsite for training was generally too expensive. Budget for training and training-related travel is usually hard to come by in companies of all sizes. This limits a manager’s ability to train people properly.

Our industry has evolved and matured in regard to technology and operational efficiency in the past two decades, but it is behind the curve when it comes to education and training. There are simply very few affordable training options available to a global audience. Different organizations have provided conferences, webinars, online training, and certification programs for many years. In academia, a number of colleges and universities offer localization-related certification and degree programs. However, in my research I found that a majority of those programs are broadly language-related and not localization-focused. Some of the few exceptions are the MSc in Multilingual Computing and Localisation at the University of Limerick, which covers a wide range of non-linguistic topics from mobile device internationalization to advanced language engineering, the MA in Translation & Localization Management and MBA in Localization Management offered by the Monterrey Institute of International Studies, and the other programs described in this issue.

The need for a global training ecosystem

Despite these ongoing resources and new programs, our multi-billion dollar localization industry still lacks a scalable, diverse, affordable, and global training offering. People interested in our industry don’t know where to go to find training to learn the basics. Companies of all sizes, both on the supplier and buyer side, struggle to find quality training for their staff. Because there are very few colleges in the world that offer degree or certification programs, only a very small number of college grads enter our growing industry every year. New hires have to be trained on the job, which is expensive and leads to productivity loss as staffers, who could be working on billable localization tasks, have to provide the training. Experienced localization professionals have insufficient options to further their education and advance in their localization careers.

We are facing an education crisis. As our industry continues to grow at record speed, we may not be able to provide enough trained resources to the industry. To keep up, we need to rectify the lack of training and formal education quickly and decisively. If we don’t, our growth may be stifled by a reduction in new professionals entering the localization industry, and an increase in the attrition of experienced professionals looking elsewhere for career advancement.

The solution is a global training ecosystem; an industry-wide, formal, structured and global approach to training. As an industry, we need to come together and address this learning crisis, quickly. There is no competition among educators; there is a lot more demand for training than we can collectively meet. We need to explore how we can improve on the status quo by forming an industry board, consisting of educators, buyers and suppliers to explore our options. Only collectively will we be able to tackle the short-term challenges and map out the future of education in localization.

To help address the lack of depth of training in our industry, I started exploring how the Internet could be used as a global platform to deliver affordable training to a worldwide audience. Trainers and content providers in other industries deliver their content in person, host it on their personal websites for interactive training, or use YouTube and Vimeo for their non-interactive training. I was very impressed with the e-learning site, which offers self-paced online training for popular software products from Adobe, Microsoft, and more as a subscription service. I decided to start mapping out an e-learning strategy for the translation and localization industry. My idea was to create a similar, but more global online training marketplace that would connect content providers with people seeking training. I reached out to industry peers and experts to share my thoughts and ideas of a global e-learning marketplace to get feedback. Initially, I was met with a lot of skepticism about the feasibility and marketability of such a venture, but I was determined that this could be a game-changer and pursued the idea relentlessly. My determination paid off when I found three fantastic partners who shared my excitement about the idea and my love for teaching others in localization related subjects. In March of 2012, we formed Localization Training in San Jose, California, with subsidiaries in Germany and England and are now poised to launch the e-learning management system at the beginning of June 2014.

The value add of e-learning in the global training ecosystem

So, what is the value add of e-learning in the global training ecosystem? Most importantly, it helps address the ever-growing demand for affordable training. Content can be delivered instantly and simultaneously to a worldwide audience. It can be edited and updated with a simple gesture, such as the click of a mouse. It saves everybody money and reduces the carbon footprint as students and content providers do not need to travel anywhere to receive or provide training. They can work, learn, and play from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Trainers and content providers are empowered to reach customers worldwide, while protecting their intellectual property with advanced video security features. Trainers can earn money like never before, because they are reaching a truly global audience.

I believe that the delivery of training will shift steadily from a physical classroom environment to a virtual classroom, and within the next ten to twenty years, a “bricks-and-mortar” localization education will be a distant memory. Part of the journey from classroom to virtual delivery will be to guide traditional educators towards the best practices in delivering online training. Unlike the traditional classroom setting, where a trainer interacts with students during a session, online training has wildly different requirements. So, to make a course interesting and captivating, a trainer has to use a variety of multimedia elements to emulate the classroom setting, which means many educators will need to adjust their teaching style for e-learning courses.

We are all part of one of the most exciting industries in the world. We have achieved amazing things in the past thirty years, and together we can achieve more in the years to come. I invite you to become part of the education evolution in localization. I invite you to consider participating in the industry board on education in localization.