We're looking at learning management systems (LMSs) for use in Europe and the Pacific Rim. In a previous column you listed systems that support specific languages, but isn't it true that translating an LMS interface is relatively straightforward because there really isn't that much on-screen text in the interface, i.e. logon/logoff text, introductory text, button labels, menus and perhaps a help file? Aren't all LMS products pretty much the same in this area?
When it comes to foreign language support, not all LMSs are created equal! Many systems have been designed with language translation in mind, yet still many systems lag behind. Case in point: We recently studied 71 LMSs and discovered that only 35 of them (about 50 percent) have built-in Unicode support, which is required to display extended, multi-byte character sets for languages such as Russian, Korean and Chinese. This is not a small feature that can be quickly and easily added by the vendor. In most cases, it requires retrofitting the entire database structure.
Here are some things to look for when seeking out language-savvy LMS solutions: