QA Testing Your Localized E-Learning Courses

Quality assurance (or QA) testing is when you review your e-learning course to catch any potential issues—from confusing grammar to interactions that don’t work— before your course gets into the hands of learners. It’s an important part of any e-learning project because without it, you could end up delivering a course that doesn’t work or isn’t accessible to your learners.

When you’re localizing your course, it can be tempting to skip QA testing for the localized versions. After all, you’ve already been through it once, before the course was translated, so it’s good to go, right? Wrong!

It’s important to review every language version individually to make sure the translations accurately portray the key messages, the graphics and user interface are culturally appropriate, and that no bugs were introduced during the localization process. Here are some tips to help you set up an effective QA process for your localized courses.

Choose Your Localization QA Tester

Before you can start the QA process for your localized courses, you’ll need to find a QA tester for each target language. Choosing the right person for the job is crucial, as the quality of your localized courses rests on their shoulders. Ideally, you want someone who is:

  • A native (or near native) speaker of the target language, so they can pick up on things like register (i.e., the level of formality), tone, style, and nuances.
  • A good writer and speller in the target language, so they can catch spelling mistakes, typos, and grammar errors. Just because someone speaks a language doesn’t mean they’re an ideal QA tester.
  • Fluent in the source language (the language your master course was designed in), so they can compare the localized course to the master course.
  • From or has lived in the target region for an extended period of time, so they understand the ins and outs of the culture.
  • Detail-oriented, so they’ll catch any localization mistakes.
  • Committed to your project, so they’ll make time to review your course when you need them to.

Make a Localization QA Test Plan

Now that you’ve got your QA tester picked out, you may think it’s time to put them to work. Not quite! Before they can get started, you need to make a test plan. A test plan is a document that walks testers through all the steps they’re expected to test and the types of issues they should be on the lookout for.

QA Test Steps

When you ask testers to review your course, you need to give them a step-by-step guide that details every action you want them to test. Here’s an example of what that could look like:

  1. Walk through the entire course from start to finish three times, clicking on every button.
    1. The first time you do the quiz, select only correct answers.
    2. The second time, select only incorrect answers.
    3. The third time, select a mix of correct and incorrect answers
  2. Go through the course again in reverse order, clicking on all Previous buttons.
  3. Click on all the items in the menu.
  4. Click on all the player tabs.

Make sure to include as many details as possible in your test plan to make it easy on your testers. If they don’t know what to test, they may skip over some of the items, which could mean glossing over mistakes.

What to Look Out For

While your testers are going through the QA test plan, they need to be on the lookout for linguistic, cultural, and functionality-related issues. To make sure they’re not forgetting anything, put together a checklist of questions they should ask themselves as they’re testing your course. Here’s a sample localization QA checklist to get you started:

Linguistic Accuracy

  • Is all the course text fully localized, or is there still some text in the source language?
  • Are dates, times, measurements, etc., written in the correct format?
  • Is terminology used consistently?
  • Is any content missing?
  • Does the translated text make sense (i.e., do you understand what’s written)?
  • Does the translated text sound natural (i.e., is it something a native speaker would say)?
  • Does the tone and register of the translated text match that of the original text? For example, if the original text was written in an informal tone, does the translation reflect that?
  • Does the translated text mean the same thing as the original text, or have some of the key messages been lost in translation?

Cultural Appropriateness

  • Do the fonts used support all the special characters in the target language, or are characters being replaced with incorrect symbols?
  • Are the graphics (images, illustrations, icons, characters, etc.) culturally appropriate?
  • Are the examples or scenarios included in the course culturally relevant (i.e., are they something learners will be able to relate to)?

Functionality

  • Is the audio properly synched up with any animations?
  • Do all the buttons work as expected (i.e., do they link to the correct slide, layer, or website)?
  • Does the quiz scoring work as expected?
  • Is it easy to navigate the course, or is it confusing at times?

Collect and Apply Feedback

Chances are there will be at least a couple of things to tweak in each of your language versions; there may even be quite a few. To make this process as painless as possible, use a tool like Articulate Review to centralize all the feedback and streamline communication between the e-learning designer and the QA testers.

Once you have your feedback, make the necessary edits and ask your QA testers to review once again. You may need to repeat this process multiple times to get to a point where the QA tester no longers spots any issues.

Following these tips will ensure your course quality is top-notch no matter what language your learner speaks. After all, what’s the point of localizing your course if the localized version doesn’t work or communicate effectively with the target audience?

Here are some more resources to help you become an e-learning localization expert:

Got some great QA localization advice to share with the community? Let us know below! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for the latest e-learning tips and tricks.

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