Localising E-Learning Websites in the Semantic Web Era

Localising E-Learning Websites in the Semantic Web Era

Dimitris Kanellopoulos (University of Patras, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-789-9.ch014
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Abstract

Recently, ontologies have been applied for localisation of e-learning content in order to promote existing learning services to semantic-aware and intelligent localisation services. This chapter presents a localisation-aware semantic e-learning approach to integrate multilingual content provision, learning process and learner personality in an integrated semantic e-learning framework. The author proposes an architecture for supporting localisation of e-learning content and describes a basis for further development of automatic localisation services that will be able to reason on top of such an explicit infrastructure.
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Introduction

Nowadays adaptive learning offers flexible solutions by dynamically adapting content to each individual’s learning needs (Adler & Rae, 2002; Paule et al., 2008). Shang et al. (2001) argued the necessity of creating an intelligent learning environment, one that would be student centered, self-paced, highly interactive, and based on students’ learning characteristics, including background knowledge and learning style. From another perspective, learners differ across regional, linguistic and country boundaries. They represent a multicultural community and their requirements are strongly influenced by their local cultural perspective. Learners are members of a culture, who share a common language and common cultural conventions. From one culture to another, many things differ such as measurement units, keyboard configurations, default paper sizes, character sets and notational standards for writing time, dates, addresses, numbers, currency, etc. Characteristically, De Troyer et al. (2005) state:

“Some jokes, symbols, icons, graphics or even colors may be completely acceptable in one country, but trigger negative reactions in another country. Sometimes the style or tone of the site’s text might even be considered offensive by a particular cultural entity, as a result of which the text needs to be rewritten rather than merely translated.”

Therefore, designers of learning management systems (LMS), such as Blackboard and WebCT, should address these issues. Many LMS provide for multiple languages but this does not necessarily include true localisation, which requires adaptation of the content and design to fit local cultures. Localisation is the process of adapting an e-learning product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel” (Clark, 2005). Localisation includes three types of adaptation (Harris & McCormack, 2000).

  • 1.

    Linguistic adaptation affects course elements that include textual descriptions on screen and in graphics, user interface, browser window titles, text input fields and so on.

  • 2.

    Substantive adaptation involves modifying the substance of the learning content for local audience. Examples of course elements that may be affected by substantive adaptation include: abbreviations, terminology, examples, cases, rules and regulations which are specific to the geographical area.

  • 3.

    Cultural adaptation involves contextualizing the content for a specific culture. Examples of course elements affected by cultural adaptation include: symbols, icons, colour, graphic style/photographs, names, titles and forms of addressing people.

Authors of learning material have to address the needs of a culturally diverse user base. If e-learning content is not culturally sensitive, there is the potential for exclusion of local learners based on accessibility to information that is not culturally appropriate. The goal of localising e-learning material is to provide a technologically, linguistically and culturally neutral platform from which to launch global e-learning initiatives. Recently, there is a demand for improving e-learning solutions from pure web-based content provision to instructional and localised learner-centric learning and teaching environments. The success of the International Conference “Open Education 2007: Localizing & Learning” (held at Utah) is in line with the above trend (Open Education, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Locale: It is a set of parameters that defines the user’s language, country and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier.

Translation Memory eXchange (TMX): It is an open XML standard for the exchange of translation memory data created by computer-aided translation and localisation tools. TMX is developed and maintained by OSCAR (Open Standards for Container/Content Allowing Re-use), a special interest group of Localisation Industry Standards Association.

XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF): It is an XML-based format created to standardize localisation. XLIFF was standardized by OASIS in 2002. XLIFF forms part of the Open Architecture for XML Authoring and Localisation (OAXAL) reference architecture.

Localisation Industry Standards Association (LISA): It is the leading international forum for organizations doing business globally. LISA has distilled the right ways and wrong ways of supporting international customers, products and services over the last 15 years from more than 500 corporate members, public and private institutions, government ministries, and trade organizations.

Internationalisation: It is the process of designing a software application so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes.

Globalising Websites: Websites require careful internationalization, while graphics must be stored in source-file format and made available to localizers. Beyond design issues, effective web site globalization requires the use of technology to track and respond to changes in source content, as well as to manage the decisions as to what should and should not be translated.

Localisation: It is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific region or language by adding locale-specific components and translating text.

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