How to host courses in Spanish

How To Offer Virtual Courses in Spanish and Other Languages

Training is communicating, at its most basic. So, if you’re not delivering your agency’s educational material in a language that makes sense, your learners will have trouble understanding. You need to offer multilingual training if you want to address cultural competency, safety, productivity, and compliance. Many public health programs have employees who don’t speak English as a native language, are from another country, or who have goals to reach people who speak another language. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), language barriers are a contributing factor in 25% of job-related accidents. The first step to avoiding miscommunication is by offering your courses in English—and another language like Spanish.

How Multilingual Online Training Works

Offering courses in Spanish or another language can be easier than you think. It’s helpful to understand the parts of training learners in their own language so when you decide to start a translation project, you know what to expect.

Menus, Buttons, Links on the Training Platform

The training platform, such as the LMS, that people use to access the course should display the same language as the course. Language packs provide options for learners who are accessing curriculum in another language. This language pack makes it so that all the menus, buttons, links, and other options are available in other languages on the fly for your students.

Setting up courses in Spanish

You can also create language-specific versions of other pages that don’t relate to the training content. These might be the kinds of pages you’d access in the footer, header, privacy policies, etc.

Curriculum and Course Content

Then there’s the curriculum. Your course curriculum needs to be created in your target language, such as in Spanish. Translating with tools like Google Translate is not enough to host courses in Spanish. Thankfully, you can hire a training company like Talance to translate your course content to your target language.

A full translation by a professional will cover tricky and variable areas, such as technical health terms, acronyms, and also cultural translations.

Sample of a course video translated to Spanish

For example, the term “single-parent child” might not make sense for Arab or Islamic speakers. The closest translation is “a child who has lost a parent” like an orphan, but that’s not the same. A full explanation would talk about how in Western culture it’s possible for someone to have a child without participation from a second parent.

Multilingual Instructors and Facilitators

A multilingual course also needs support staff who can speak Spanish, including a facilitator or instructor, and someone who can offer technical support. This might be the same person, depending on your setup, but these are often handled by different departments or people.

Another important element when choosing multilingual instructors is cultural competency. If you have the opportunity, choosing someone with the same cultural background as your students will likely improve the learning outcome for courses in Spanish and other foreign languages.

Participants and Classroom Structure

When all those elements are in place, you’ll heed to structure your classrooms and cohorts so they make sense.

Mixing a class of English speakers and Spanish speakers will be confusing to the learners. They won’t know what each other is talking about. Keep your cohorts separate if you’re hosting your courses in multiple languages such as English and Spanish. Also, if you use forums, chat rooms, or other discussion elements, the learners should each use the same language.

If you’ve avoided translations in the past, now is the time to start paying attention. Tension among the public and employees is high, and many people are working remotely. Starting with multilingual support can help you avoid potential communication problems and boost collaboration.

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How to use a pilot group before your next program launch

How to Choose the Right Pilot Group for Training

If you need one helicopter, order two.

That’s a lesson we learned at Talance when creating an online course on Incident Command System. ICS is a language that all emergency responders know, including the police, firefighters, and Coast Guard. That way when there’s a disaster, everyone knows what to do, no matter who they work for.

The lesson is to be prepared—really prepared—for when it counts. What if something goes wrong with the first helicopter? You have another at the ready.

We always order a second helicopter by putting extra energy into planning, testing, and building in redundancies. We want the courses we write and the learning management system we use to have the best chance of success.

When we begin planning for a new project with a client, we always stress the importance of testing the course with a pilot group before officially launching it. This is a process that many e-learning projects skip, or don’t follow completely. The risk with creating online training is that the people writing the courses are rarely the same people taking the course. That means the course can be irrelevant or miss critical information that learners need.

Planning to launch a virtual training program? Consider Virtual Training: Top 10 Questions From Program Managers and Directors

Save costs and time by conducting a course pilot.

If you do this early in the process, you can save development costs by avoiding learning gaps and fixing issues early in the process. Programs that subscribe to our courses also pilot their choices. That way, they know if they’re making the right selection for the right audience.

There’s no substitute for gathering together a pilot group and gathering feedback. We show examples from our past work of how piloting has helped create better courses in ways no one could have guessed.

Here are some best practices we follow with our partners and clients so they can pick the right pilot group and maximize its value.

Who to invite to your pilot group.

The first step is often the hardest. Choosing who to involve in the pilot planning process can be complex, and it’s tempting to involve as many stakeholders as possible. This is a mistake. When programs invite dozens of people, especially decision-makers, subject-matter experts, coworkers and community partners, they’ll likely receive a different opinion from each person.

That’s too many people, and they probably don’t necessarily have the right opinions. If you’re a program manager in this position, ask yourself: “Will my boss be taking this course when it’s done?” If the answer is “no,” then they’re not the most important person to involve in a pilot phase.

We advise recruiting a selection of people from three groups:

  1. learners who are similarly motivated as the intended audience but have no experience with the material or with online training;
  2. learners who have some experience with the program’s previous training modules;
  3. one or two subject-matter experts.

This mix gives programs the best chance to understand what learners need to know and identifying gaps in the training material. It’s helpful to invite some people who have absolutely no experience with online training. They can help identify issues that everyone else ignores. Common problems include defective menus, missing instructions that would make completing the training easier, or usability issues.

Beware inviting coworkers and friends to a pilot program.

Sometimes Talance’s clients suggest this as a way to involve stakeholders in the course development process. This is a problem because …

  • they’re not the intended audience, so they can’t give the correct feedback;
  • if they’re a stakeholder who should have been guiding the project, they should be involved at the beginning, not at the end. This can lead to missed deadlines and an extra expense of rewrites when the writing phase is over.

Assembling the wrong pilot group can give you false information.

One of our clients had such an experience prior to working with us. The program managers did organize a pilot (bonus points!), but they made two other mistakes.

  1. Their pilot group was too small–only about five people.
  2. Although the training program was meant for people new to the material, they invited people who were veterans in their role with up to 25 years’ experience.

When they reviewed feedback from the participants, they all complained that the information was too basic. This feedback dominated the evaluation forms because they only had a handful of participants.

What’s the perfect pilot group size?

A too-small group is as much of a problem as a too-big group. It makes sense to look for a group that’s similar to the audience you intend to be taking the course when it’s complete. You can also include a mix of experts.

We aim for a group of around 20-30, because that tends to be the final class size for most of the training courses we develop.

Choosing the ideal pilot group participants.

It’s best to begin any pilot by clarifying who the intended audience is. It can be helpful to create one or two personas for recruiting. Every person who participates in the pilot program should match the persona.

The learner persona can include how much experience they have and how much time they need to dedicate to testing. It’s also helpful to include what their motivations are for completing the training. The subject-matter expert persona can include familiarity with online vs. traditional learning and particular areas of expertise.

Once you define who your ideal learner is and set your group size, you’ll be in a great position to find out if your training program is working as intended. From this step, making tweaks is much easier and less costly. A little preparation, careful planning—and even an extra helicopter–means better projects that accomplish your program training goals the way they were intended.

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How to hire e-learning program facilitators

How To Hire a Remote Training Admin To Manage E-learning Programs

Your agency might be one of the thousands that jumped feet first into e-learning this year. And you might have discovered that deciding to offer remote training is one thing, while running a course is another.

Training remote employees can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to think about who will be administering your online courses so that experience goes as smoothly for everyone as possible.

Depending on what kind of training you’re offering, you might need to designate someone as an administrator or you might need someone as a facilitator.

Organizations that are moving their online training program into an online space are faced with a difficult decision that will endure for the life of the program. Does it make sense to hire a new facilitator who is skilled in online work, or train an existing employee to do the work?

When you need a facilitator vs. an administrator

First, think about who you actually need to run your program. Here are some common scenarios:

An HR person for hands-off course management.

If you buy off-the-shelf training for compliance or skill building, such as HIPAA compliance or basic organizational skills, then you might not need anyone.

Many e-learning vendors offer a product that requires nothing more than someone in your agency sending in a registration list.

An administrator for ongoing e-learning program management.

If you have a next-level program where you’re training regular cohorts, you probably need a dedicated administrator.

An admin will promote the program, come up with scheduling, enroll and disenroll participants, answer questions, and generally keep things moving.

An e-learning facilitator for leading groups of learners.

If you’re actually teaching courses to people, then you probably need an e-learning facilitator.

An e-learning facilitator is a training specialist who is involved in a dedicated training program. They often work with e-learning developers or agencies, collaborate with a coordinator, and have an understanding of the course curriculum.

A facilitator may do some of the same work as an admin, such as enrolling and disenrolling, but they’ll also provide more hands-on jobs like moderating forums and grading tests.

When it comes to staffing this position, then your next big decision is who will fill that role. You could assign course duties to someone who already works for you, or you can hire for the job.

Both choices have pros and cons. Ultimately you’ll have to make a decision based on your individual needs. However, there are some clear benefits and drawbacks.

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Hiring training administrators from your team

One benefit of recruiting internally for this job is that you know your employees and what they do. You have a history with them that indicates how adept they are at change or if they have untapped skills that can be used. It can make the transition much smoother.

Internal employees also know you and what you do. It takes less time for these kinds of hires to understand the details of your organization and your mission. An existing trainer also has in-depth knowledge of your material and audience.

Cost-saving might also be a factor in your decision. Hiring from within reduces hard hiring costs, such as interview time, office space, or even relocation fees.

Promoting a staff member into a new training position has some disadvantages. If multiple employees are vying for one job, it could create animosity among the whole team. This could leak into management, especially if there are individuals that are resistant to strategic change–common in organizations considering a shift to online learning.

A bigger problem with hiring for e-learning programs is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know. How do you develop talent if you’re not sure what to do? Similarly, not all organizations are structurally set up to develop internal talent. You also have to account for the hidden challenges of training remote learners.

These issues combined lead to time, which you might not have to dedicate to transforming your in-person trainers into online pros.

Hiring professional e-learning facilitators

Those are all compelling reasons for tapping your internal talent pool, but hiring an external trainer who has detailed knowledge about online facilitation can be a great investment for your entire organization.

While an external trainer won’t know as much about your organization as an existing team member does, they will have critical skills in the online environment. Teaching online is different from teaching in a live classroom, and an expert will already know how to overcome obstacles.

The new skills an outside hire will bring will also move into the rest of your organization. The energy and fresh ideas a new person brings can revitalize your workforce and feed ideas to the rest of the staff. This is especially true if your new hire has experience at a competitor organization. The boost to your overall intellectual capital may bring benefits that are hard to quantify from the onset.

Plan for an outside professional in your budget. Accordingto ZipRecruiter, the national average for a learning facilitator is $53,690 per year or $26 per hour.

They’re also more likely to leave. That’s difficult for an organization to handle when they’ve paid more and have less stability.

How to decide who runs your e-learning program

Your organization must decide if it’s better to hire from within than outside, so there’s no correct decision. If you do decide to appoint someone to run your training program internally, make sure that person understands technology and is thoroughly trained.

For most entities, a new online-based program represents a strategic change, and strategic changes are difficult to spark from within. Most also lack staff who have computer skills and skills related to communicating online. Fear of technology is a powerful inhibitor, so it helps to have someone who feels free moving in an online classroom.

Organizations that for some reason can’t hire a new staff member should at the very least hire an online education advisor or a learning consultant. This person can coach your team through the experience of online training and help develop a structure you can use for the life of your program.


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In-person, online, or blended learning methods

3 Ways to Train Your Staff: Remote, In-Person, and Blended Learning

Training is a big-budget item every year. Making decisions about what your team needs to learn and where they should learn are important decisions. Those decisions can impact how much time they spend away from their day-to-day duties and how much time they can dedicate to upskilling. New training technologies, techniques, and learning systems can help you train your employees more efficiently and cost-effectively. It pays to think about the best ways you can reach your training goals, whether that’s through remote online training, in-person workshops, or a blended learning approach.

Computer-based training makes it easy to offer unified training across vast geographic distances. However, some topics are better delivered in a live setting. But using a blended learning approach means you don’t have to choose between the two training methods.

Remote Online Training

For many agencies, remote, or virtual training, is the clear answer. It’s a useful, cost-effective way to give your staff new skills or refresh ones they already have. Plus, it’s safer than sitting in a conference room with dozens of other people during a pandemic.

An online course is one where most or all of the curriculum is presented online. It’s very fast, and it’s often less expensive than other options. It can be, well, remote. The best online courses should be created to be engaging and relevant.

In-Person Training

On-site training requires that everyone be in the same place at the same time to learn. Most organizations do this through workshops, seminars, on-the-job peer training, or other face-to-face methods.

In-person training can be effective and it’s often required for some jobs. Expect to pay more for this kind of staff learning, however. You may have to pay for trainers to come to your location or pay for your staff to go to another location.

Blended Learning

Blended learning, sometimes called hybrid learning, merges traditional face-to-face methods with online learning. This is a common method of training that addresses many of the shortcomings of a purely online or a purely in-person strategy.

In a blended learning program, workers would complete online courses or parts of online courses. Then, they would meet up in person for demonstrations or workshops that work best in a live format.

Take the example of the Office of Healthy Communities (OHC) at the Washington Department of Health. The Office of Healthy Communities combined the best elements of in-person and online training to implement a blended learning model for their statewide community health worker training program (read more in the case study). OHC allows its network of facilitators around Washington to supplement a brief live session with an in-depth online course that contains assessments, assignment tools, and collaboration.

The training model is efficient, lean, and scalable. This allows it to meet funding variables and limitations. It also makes training fast and easy, which can be difficult in Washington. It’s a large state with rural pockets not easily accessible for traditional in-person learning programs.

“E-learning allows us to reach remote areas of the state to teach community health workers. Staff only need to stay one day in each location so it lowers costs of delivering the training significantly,” says Debbie Spink, instructor and community health worker training system coordinator. “We need the support of the online curriculum. It would be cost-prohibitive to offer this training only in-person.”

Blended Learning: How To Use It at Your Agency

Is a blended learning approach right for your organization? Here are five secrets of what it takes to build a winning program.

  1. Set educational goals

    Saving money and expanding training capacity might be the overall goals of moving to a blended model. But you should set educational goals that fit the new strategy.

    Setting and reaching goals is also important to your staff. They need to see how their work fits in with the larger objectives of your agency. Taking the time to work with them to set targets helps them understand how they’re part of the organization and positively affects their performance.

    Find ways to set small reasonable goals from the beginning, such as offering short courses for skill enhancement or in languages for a small set of your learner audience. Start small, document successes, and then plan to expand.

  2. Include Trainers from the Start

    A new training strategy does not mean your training staff will be out of a job, but they might not realize that. Remember to include your training staff from the beginning and remind them that the technology is a complement to their work in a face-to-face setting. Work with them to identify ways to use technology as a tool rather than a job replacement.

  3. Support Learner Needs

    Not all learners learn the same way: Some are better visual learners, some do fine with self-paced study, and others may have different language skills.

    When you start planning for a blended training program, minimally start by looking at what your workers and your organization need. Likely, your organization will have more factors you’ll need to assess.

    Doing a needs assessment will allow you to match your findings with a learning technology or other solution, that matches your learner population.

  4. Get Your Employees Excited About Learning

    Change is a frightening word in some organizations, and not always welcome. But if you want your training investment to pay off and help your staff retain knowledge and new skills, you’ll need to do some cheerleading.

    Head off any pushback from trainers, participants, and administrative staff by focusing on excitement and motivation from the very beginning.

    In general terms, this means ensuring your staff knows why they’re taking training and that the value is clear. It also means giving them educational materials that are designed for adult learners. Grown-ups need to juggle competing demands, preferred learning styles, and their own familiarity with the delivery method.

    Be ready with a list of benefits and get buy-in early. Listening and being open is often the best way to address concerns. Here are some more tips on motivating distance learners.

  5. Adapt and Evaluate

    A blended learning model is new for many organizations, and new systems can be a challenge to implement.

    Many administrators view evaluation as time-consuming and costly, but they shouldn’t. In fact, by ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

    As you roll out your blended learning program, frequently evaluate it so you can quickly identify problems and address them.

The Best Training Is the Right Training

The most important takeaway when choosing a method for training your team is to find the right one that works for them. The best training—the kind that people remember and can use on the job right away—is the kind they relate to. It should be engaging, not intimidating, and empowering so when they have their new skills, they’re ready to go.

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