Category: eLearning

24 Nov 2020
elearning methods

Different kinds of elearning: Synchronous and Asynchronous

These days, elearning has taken over the education sector.

Now, there are two kinds of elearning present for interaction between students and teachers. The elearning is also now getting used by organisations for offering training to employees.
Now, we are going to learn about the various kinds of elearning solutions:
1.Synchronous
2.Asynchronous
Synchronous elearning means elearning where the learner and the teacher can see each other via video conferencing tools. They can also send messages to each other through chat messengers. The students can record the classes for their use.
 
Features of synchronous elearning

  • Since the student is in front of the teacher via a webcam, he/she gets to know what the former is doing. So, answers can be sought from the student, and he can be corrected if he is wrong.
  • The teacher can also deliver the learning solutions as per the needs of each student.
    The main problem with synchronous learning is that training has to happen at a fixed time because both the teacher and the learner are present. Schools, today are delivering online learning in this form.
  • Another advantage of this kind of elearning is that the participants can also chat with each other and exchange issues.

Asynchronous elearning
 
Asynchronous learning is where the learners and teachers are not present at the same time. So, in this kind of training learners are introduced to web-based training. It contains modules which learners study in their spare time. This also includes computer-based training which is provided on CD Roms. Its main advantages are:
 
Technology for asynchronous elearning
 
The tools used for asynchronous learning include multicast communication between the recipient and the sender where one sender is connected to many recipients. For this kind of communication to take place, the recipients have to download software on their computers.
Alternatively, the recipients might connect with the sender with software installed on the main server also. In this situation, the recipients just have to connect with the sender at a particular port on the web service.
Sometimes, the software for this kind of communication is installed on the physical location of the sender. In this situation, the meeting ports are installed at the local servers of the sender.

  • Learners can access the learning material whenever they want.
  • A large number of employees can access this kind of data. It’s not limited to the number of meeting ports.
  • The content in such training is the same for every employee

Blended learning is also used nowadays. It is a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning. It involves holding one or two virtual classes in the beginning and then handing out CDs to the learners to learn at their own pace.

How to choose which kind of elearning methodology is the best?

  • Asynchronous training is useful when a general topic has to be taught to the learners. It does not require any kind of guidance from the trainer.
  • Projects that involve simulations where the learner has to learn how to use a certain kind of software are also ideal for asynchronous learning. Its because these projects just require the learner to imbibe the steps of a certain software process.
  • When you have to teach the learner about the organisation as such, it can also be taught through asynchronous learning.

On the other hand, synchronous learning is useful in those cases where students need an understanding of concepts and hence teacher understanding is needed. So, these are the various kind of elearning and their uses.

24 Nov 2020
Are voice assistants safe?

Are chatbots taking over voice assistants?

Did you know that voice assistants such as Google Alexa are prone to hacking?


Although voice assistants can be used to invigorate your campus life when you put them in your dorm rooms, they are a major threat to student privacy.
These voice assistants can be used for data collection. The technological companies which are behind these models are using their data to sell it to marketing companies. It is in the hands of colleges to make sure that the data of students is safeguarded by ensuring where it is stored and not in such voice assistants.
Apart from misusing the data gained by them, these voice assistants also are used to manipulate door locks. This could be prevented by students themselves by not using such devices for controlling door locks. The reason behind this is that the hackers can use lasers to control such devices from 164 feet and enter your rooms when least expected.

Such voice assistants should transfer the student’s data to the student with the permission of the college authorities.
So, using chatbots is a preferable option for students as compared to using voice assistants. They also collect data from students. For example, there is a chatbot named myBlueLaker which is also a virtual assistant application. But it does not accumulate date. It has humans controlling it from the backend. When any personal data is given to the student, the university knows which student it is because all of them have been assigned keys. The most commendable part is that the data is always in the hands of the university’s security personnel. This app has been developed by Grand Valley state university.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an increased need for such chatbots because human interaction has been reduced. In the times of pandemic, students are also more prone to ask questions. But having Google Home in every dorm room on the campus is also not so safe, because students can imitate each other’s voices. Through chatbots, students are easily able to resolve their queries and about anything else. As of now, there is an increased demand among students and universities for the chatbots. The voice recognition devices have issues with privacy as they are managed by third parties, and universities want the student data to be directly in their control.

How do these chatbots work?
These chatbots work by recognizing the intent or the purpose of the user. Once this purpose has been understood, they send a response to the user.
The user could be sent a response in the following ways:

  • A prerecorded text
  • A text which is taken from a database based on the keywords in the user’s request
  • The chatbot may ask another question to get clearer information about the user’s request


Chatbots are important for organizations such as universities because they reduce the dependency on the call centre staff. When a student or a customer makes calls to enquire about some product or service, the call can be directed to the chatbot rather than the staff answering the call. A chatbot combines many kinds of technologies which include natural language processing and semantic understanding to respond to user’s queries.

So, this is how chatbots can help users.

23 Nov 2020
Is microlearning better than macrolearning

Microlearning and macrolearning: Which is better?

Today, microlearning has become a trend.

It is learning delivered in small modules of 3-5 minutes. It is quite useful for corporate training because they don’t have time on their hands. So the attention span is the highest in the small modules of microlearning. Apart from videos and text, the microlearning modules can contain images, games, text, audio and quizzes.
There can be various forms of content in microlearning. It can contain text-based modules or interactive video-based modules. Both are useful for learners. Microlearning can be used for the purposes of training employees, employee onboarding etc.
 
Easier and quicker to deliver
These days corporate training demands are changing quite frequently. Hence it’s important to build courses quite frequently.
 
Cheap
A microlearning course is much cost-effective. Its because since it’s short in size, the resources used are less. A content editor will be perfect for creating a microlearning course. A microlearning content editor tool allows you to create content including knowledge checks. This content can be shared with learners by uploading it. It is easily viewable on smartphones. The content editing tool can charge as per every single author who accesses it to create a course.
 
Now the question arises whether microlearning or macro learning is beneficial.Macrolearning is like a massive open online course which can teach you about a specific subject. It includes interactive videos, knowledge checks etc which are longer in length than microlearning.
 
Macrolearning is concentrated: Microlearning is good when you want the employees to understand short topics. But when you want employees to see the bigger picture, macrolearning is a better option. For example, you want the employees to learn MS Word, then macrolearning is an option. Microlearning can be offered to them for learning various applications in MS Word, but that’s divided over time, while macrolearning offers it as a single chunk. In the latter way, employees are more likely to remember it.
 
Right topics in microlearning: This is also quite important because the employees need elements for practice and retention.
 
Low attention span: It’s not true that people always have low attention spans. Attention spans can be made to vary like for example people watch 3-hour movies with complete focus.
 
Microlearning gives answers to our queries: It’s not true because macrolearning builds up our knowledge base because it’s bigger in size. With a detailed knowledge base, we are easily able to solve problems. Microlearning might answer our questions, but macrolearning helps us solve complex problems.
 
With microlearning, learning is easier: It’s not true that learning is easier with microlearning. We have made learners believe so. When we need to grasp new skills, it needs time and efforts. So, macrolearning makes people more efficient. However, it also makes them more effective. Microlearning may not do that. People who are trying to grasp a new topic need detailed instruction. That’s why macrolearning is useful. With detailed instruction, people are able to save their efforts and refrain from the unnecessary struggle. People with deeper knowledge gained through macrolearning try to use the correct approach in tough situations rather than using different approaches.

 
According to Glahn, microlearning is only effective once it, provides enough practice to the users so that they can apply their skills, gives them feedback and they can expect pre-determined learning outcomes. Microlearning is liked by users compared to macrolearning.It’s correct that what people like may not be the best thing for them. The target of the microlearning nuggets should be learning objectives rather than how many times learners have watched the modules.

23 Nov 2020
effectivness of learning and development

How to measure the impact of Learning and Development programs?

Do you know why companies are focusing on learning and development so much?

It’s because there is so much competition in the market that technologies used in the business change. With changing technologies, it’s better to make sure employees are equipped with the same. But company leaders also want to understand whether the learning and development team is doing its best. That’s, why the results for learning and development programs have to be measured. However, the results of the learning and development programs can’t be easily measured in terms of impact on the business.
 
As per an estimate, there has been an increase in the amount of money spent on training in the US by 14% every year. Therefore, someone needs to gauge the effectiveness of this learning. With so much training going on, businesses are eager to find metrics that can help them in measuring improvement in employees’ learning.
 
There are many ways in which employee training can be measured and they include quizzes, surveys, certification exams and case studies. It’s important that before training starts, you decide the factors on which you need information and they are measured afterwards.
Now, one of these models to measure learning effectiveness is the Kirkpatrick evaluation model.
This model was formulated by Donald Kirkpatrick. It has 4 stages. 
 
Stage 1: Reaction
This level gauges what has been the reaction of the learners to training. There is the employment of questionnaires and use surveys, given to learners after the course to get the impact of training on them. 
Stage 2: Learning 
This stage also measures that knowledge of the learners. There is a range of metrics available to measure the performance of employees. 
· Tests taken after training
· Influence on the key indicators of performance 
· The feedback given by the supervisor of the employees. 
Stage 3: Behaviour 
This stage gauges the impact of the training on the performance of the learner. There are a lot of methods used for measuring how performance has improved. These include questionnaires, feedback given by managers, observing employees while they are working and KPIs of employees as yielded by how they actually perform on the job. The feedback of customers is also useful. This feedback is measured through surveys. 
Stage 4: Results 
These results are very important for the company to know whether the amount spent on learning and development was useful or not. So, the results stage measures whether there is any hike in the productivity of employees after the training. There should be an increased motivation among employees to do the job after the training. This happens because they know how much the company values them to offer the training.
 
Is measuring the employee’s results useful?
It’s useful to measure the results of the training. However, the stages of the above training model need to be applied differently to different kinds of training programs. The level of the programs decides the type of stage applied to it. 
Stage 1 Reaction: It is useful for all programs 
Stage 2-Learning: It is useful for programs involving “hard skills”. Hard skills are those skills which can be gauged. These skills include the ability to use software programs quite well. So, employees can be tested for any improvement in these skills. 
Stage 3-Behavior: It can be used to measure strategic programs. This implies measuring the outcome in terms of whether the employee’s performance is aligned with the company’s strategy. 
Stage 4-Results: It can be used to measure the outcome of learning and development programs with the cost of 50,000 USD
 
So this is how organizations measure the effectiveness of their training programs. 

20 Nov 2020
problems in Agile

What are the problems faced in implementing Agile?

Have you ever wondered what is Agile?

 
An Agile project works in the following manner. First, the project is segregated into a small number of outputs. Then the outputs are supplied to the customer at small time intervals. Agile delivers output in two-week stages because it develops it in parts. The software project is divided into parts based on functionality and then output is distributed to customers. Generally, Agile is about producing software in small stages known as sprints. In each stage, the software is designed, developed and tested.
 
A sprint is a short time when the software development team completes some predetermined work. So, what are the challenges faced in Agile? So, customer feedback is taken at each output. During the production process, whenever each output is discovered, the list of outputs is grown.
 

  • Changes in project cost, time: As per this methodology, there is a change in the cost of the project and even time because the project is completed in stages. After one sprint, the developers learn about some changes which are introduced in the next sprint. Hence the next sprint may take longer than the planned time.

 
However, this is not possible for many projects which have a specific budget. Even the time required for such projects can’t increase because there is a fixed deadline. So, an organization which works on Agile has to realize that the time and cost cannot increase after a specific point. The organization needs to realize what point is that. The organization needs to understand that the project cant go overboard after a certain cost or time. The sooner this cost or time is decided, the better it is.
 

  • Cooperation from team members: In Agile, cooperation is needed from team members because a lot of changes have to be imposed. That’s why, the leaders of the company need to show the team members why they need to work with a new methodology because it’s more productive.
     

    • The work has to preplanned making sure you can get the feedback of the workers for it
    • Make sure team members are in sync with each other daily.
    • There should be team meetings held early so that there is the correction of the way workers are working.

     

  • Choosing labour in Agile: It’s tough to choose labour in Agile because it can’t be chosen according to job descriptions, but those who show a flair for working. Individuals have to come forward and then get chosen for the job. Collaboration is also needed on the part of individuals. Agile involves working in teams. So, the employees who are interested in working in teams are suitable for such projects. The organization should be willing to reward such employees financially. They should be willing to give rewards to teams.
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  • Taking in scrum masters: Scrum is an Agile methodology. The IT leaders must have scrum masters on board so that the employees can get the right idea about their capabilities. When they don’t have the right idea about their capabilities, they over-commit themselves which leads to problems later. They suffer a burnout trying to fulfil the deadlines. They are unable to sleep at night due to work. To avoid this, scrum masters need to be hired so that employees know from the very beginning how much they can attain in a specified period.
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  • Following Agile uselessly-Agile should be followed to ensure that there are certain goals which are met. These goals are increased satisfaction of customers. If there are no such goals set for Agile methodology, it can lead to reduced productivity. Reduced customer satisfaction can also be the key outcome of following this approach without any goal.

So, these are the problems faced when Agile is implemented.

 

20 Nov 2020
online learning

National Education Policy 2020 to boost online learning

Online learning in Indian education is about to receive a major boost with the (National Education Policy)NEP 2020.

This policy has replaced the national education policy of 1986. The major changes suggested under this education policy are as follows:

No other activity for Indian teachers: The teachers will be deployed for teaching only and no other service such as elections. The responsibility for the quality of education lies with teachers. There will be 1 teacher for every 30 students in school. However, the teacher-student ratio is not so favourable in Delhi. There is a single teacher for every 35 students. In Bihar, the situation is even worse where there are 32 students for every single teacher. Apart from public schools, the government will also improve the situation in private schools because there are 40-50 students in every class and a single teacher is catering to them. 

More schools by the affluent: Government plans to open more schools through rich people. Apart from that, it wants to delegate auditors for supervising such schools. The government will approve the schools set by such affluent people. The government will make sure that rich people just act as benefactors of such schools. 

Regional language education: Students till the 5th grade will be taught in the regional language. 

Higher investment of GDP: There will be a higher investment in education by the government. The central government and the state governments could increase the investment in the education sector to 6% of GDP. 

Build up online learning: As far as digital education is concerned, there will be efforts to strengthen the same. This implies that the National Education Technology Forum will be established. 

Elearning platforms like Swayam will be extended: The Swayam portal has courses for students in different fields such as Architecture and Planning, Education, Engineering and Technology, Humanities and Arts and Law etc. This portal contains content on subjects in courses taught from class 9th to the level of post-graduation. So, any student in these classes can log on to this portal and view video lectures on the subject of his choice. They don’t have to pay any kind of fees for accessing the course. Apart from that, they can also access the quizzes hosted on this portal. There is also an online discussion forum where students can get their doubts cleared. 
For getting a certificate from this portal, the students will have to appear in person at the specified centres for appearing in exams. The UGC has already granted the credit framework for online learning courses through Swayam. Under this, the universities have to recognize those courses where they can grant credit to students for courses they have done through this portal.

To monitor the quality of content on this MOOC portal, 9 organisations have been delegated. These organizations include AICTE, IGNOU, NCERT, IIMB, UGC etc. Students can pursue courses of different durations of 4,6,8,12,15,16 and 24 weeks from this MOOC portal.

Teachers will be trained to use these platforms. 

Virtual labs will be established

This is how National Education policy will have an impact on students.

20 Nov 2020
Assistive Technology in elearning

How does Assistive technology help the impaired?

Learning is now enabled for all.

Thanks to assistive technology, learners can easily grasp the information from elearning materials.

But the question arises, what is this assistive technology?
There is assistive computer technology through which a disabled learner can talk to a computer. This technology has created audio and visual aids for learners with disabilities.
Elearning material helps those learners who are unable to go to places for taking the training. Apart from being impaired from travelling, elearning also helps those who are unable to hear the sound in this material. Besides hearing and seeing disabilities, learners also have understanding problems due to which special elearning material needs to be designed for them.

  1. Software for Text-to-speech -It is quite useful for those learners who are visually impaired and can’t read the subtitles on the screen. Such software is a part of most of the elearning tools as of now. Apart from being a part of elearning software like Captivate, such software can also be installed on the PCs of the visually impaired. This way, they can hear any document on the screen, be it in the PDF or the word format. Such software reads the document word-by-word for the learner. Android has a text synthesis engine which can read text from a PDF making it easier for the visually impaired learners.
    This text-to-speech software can even read text from chats in instant messengers. This software is an example of assistive technology in education. There are many kinds of speech generator software available in the market.
  2. Speech generating devices-They have also become quite useful for those who can’t type. Through this software, the visually impaired just need to utter the words they want to type and their work is done for them. The best part is that such software also requires the punctuation in sentences and includes it in the typed text. Through speech generating devices, everyone can type text.
  3. Visual aids- Visual assistive technology is also useful in terms of those readers who can’t see things on screen properly due to sight impairment. It can convert a certain portion of the text into Braille. So, the users can touch such text and understand it.
    The users can also have a certain portion of the text increased in scale for them so that they can see all the portions of the text clearly.
  4. Audio assistive technology: It’s also available for the users who cant hear things. Therefore, to make them put more emphasis on something, it’s important to show them flashlights. Transcripts are also given with elearning tools to make sure that hearing-impaired can understand the text written on the screen because it is shown as closed captions.
    So, this is how assistive technology can be used by sight and audio impaired people.
19 Nov 2020
Servers of educational institutions in online learning

Are servers of educational institutions really safe?

Online learning is the new concept for colleges and schools ever since Covid 19 pandemic took centerstage.

But its security is also important. During the months July, August and September, there have been 1000 phishing attacks on servers hosting educational websites. These are websites of educational institutions. This figure of cyber attacks was found out by Barracuda Networks. In August this year, the Institute of Open and Distance Learning in the University of Mumbai had to cancel exams after its server was attacked by cybercriminals. The same was the experience of Manipal Academy of Higher Education whose exam software contained malware. It infected the systems of students who opened it. The hacking of student’s computers is a serious concern for students. Students who are looking to learn online are quite perturbed with such attacks. This is seriously shocking news for proponents of distance learning.

Now, let’s learn what’s a phishing attack through an email?

In this case, the phishing emails were sent using the .edu domain due to which clearing all the spam filters on a student’s email account was quite easy. So, when a server with .edu domain name is hacked, you can get access to a lot of emails with a domain name ending in .edu. The search by Barracuda Networks also found that almost 3/4ths of phishing emails sent to students were from accounts of those associated with the educational institutions.

Phishing is an attack through an email where the recipient is lured into opening an email. When you open the email, malware is installed on your system, and it pilfers sensitive information from the system.
Indeed, the security parameters in India on the school and college servers are not as good as those on corporate servers. There can be two disadvantages when an educational server used for online learning is hacked:

  • It contains sensitive information: Since the student’s attendance and personal identification information in such courses is stored online in servers, such information theft can prove to be dangerous. Nefarious people can use such information to get ransom from parents of students.
  • Cheating becomes easy: It can also happen that the information about exam papers is leaked in the cyber world where students can easily access them.

So, the providers of distance learning courses are now concerned with making the systems safe for students. Hence they are asking the elearning solution providers what are the steps taken by them for data security. This includes the servers on which the data is stored, data audit and whether such companies have hired data security professionals to keep the data safe. Most of such companies are using ERP systems for hosting the company data.

Now apart from elearning solution providers, educational institutions providing online learning courses are also taking steps to ensure that the data is safe. For example, the BML Munjal University is trying to implement data security across all users of the distance learning system including teachers, students, and staff in management. The attacks could happen across all these end-users and hence it is necessary to filter their access.

So, it is best to make servers of online learning systems safe to protect confidential student and parent information.

19 Nov 2020
online learning in US

Schools moving to online learning all over the world

Schools in Colorado to be shut down from November 30

Online Learning is getting adopted very fast in the world due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, there is news that the US has already started adopting distance learning.
 
The Academy District 20 region in Colorado will make a move to this form of education. This is because already 10 elementary schools in this district are on elearning mode. In fact, since 14% of the teacher-student population is experiencing quarantine, it’s no longer feasible to run schools. There are not many teachers left to teach. Transitioning to elearning is also considered beneficial with the hope that since students will be studying from home, it will lower the spread of Covid-19. Apart from the break caused due to elearning, the district will also experience the break due to Thanksgiving Holidays and Christmas Holidays. This transition to elearning will happen from November, 30th right after Thanksgiving Holidays to 18th December, covering 3 weeks.
 
As per Tom Gregory who is the Superintendent of Schools, this move requires a lot of supervision of children by parents to see whether they are attending online classes or not. He is quite hopeful that since society is taking all the precautions, the learning will soon return to school-based learning. He expects the students to follow all precautions during this quarantine like wearing safety masks and washing hands. They must also follow social distancing measures.
 
Western Schools Corporation sends letter to parents
In another similar move, schools in Indiana will also be shut down. The Western Schools Corporation has sent a letter to parents informing them, that between 15th November and 26th November, education will be imparted in an elearning mode.

This letter which was sent to parents on November 15th stated that 6 members from the student, teacher and management population have been found positive for Corona Virus and hence it’s imperative to shut the school. Since these members must self-isolate, it was not possible to open the school. As per the letter, the staff had been shuffled in the last few weeks so that no shortage was experienced, but now the problem had escalated. When there is no schooling happening, the 6 isolated members won’t have to come to school and hence spread the disease.
 
In Dubai also, 83% of schools are imparting education in an online mode, whereas 17% of schools are running on a classroom basis. The teachers here are finding the move to elearning quite effective because it has brought new technology on the table for them. They can learn devices like Ipad.
 
In schools, blended learning is being followed, where distance education is combined with classroom education sometimes in a week. So, this is where education is headed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

18 Nov 2020
Video Content localisation

Video content localisation:How important it is?

Video content is quite important for the learners of an elearning video.

The videos have the maximum impact and hence their audio needs to be in the native language.
Apart from the localization of elearning videos, companies are also relying on videos for driving sales. The Internet has also led to more and more people watching your videos and hence videos with subtitles have a far-reaching effect. Hence, its important that the videos are available in local languages. 82% of the traffic a company will get will be from videos. From the purpose of sales, having a localised video has become quite important.
 
Customers now want to watch videos about a product, rather than reading some informative material about it. Thanks to the advent of social video websites such as Instagram and Youtube, having product-based videos with subtitles is quite important. There are various kinds of videos used for video content marketing such as influencer videos, product reviews, interviews etc. Videos have reached a new level of popularity. Hence, there are 2 billion video watchers on Youtube every month. Apart from that, Youtube records 500 minutes of videos uploaded there every minute. Video content has assumed an important role in marketing because customers don’t have long attention spans. Besides that, there are always ads shown on the internet which distract the customers.
So video content marketing is the best way to capture customer’s attention and deliver the message. Subtitles, dubbing and translation all are used for localization of a video.
So, what are the necessary steps for localisation of video content:

  • Using native voice artists for dubbing a video: When the video is translated, it’s important to see that the voice must end after the character has stopped speaking otherwise it’s very awkward to watch a video where a voiceover is continuing while the character is not speaking.
     
    Dubbing a video cannot have such flaw because in this a new audio layer is applied to replace the original audio layer.
    For video content, using voice artists is not enough. Apart from translation or dubbing there also needs to be the localisation of the video. The voice-over artist must know the local nuances apart from knowing the language. Therefore he has to be a native artist. A local artist can take care of small things such as the traditions of the local language while translating. He is aware of the beliefs of the people. He is capable of translating the video into the local dialect to get a response from the local audience. His pronunciation of words also matches the local pronunciation. So, having such a local artist for a voiceover is the best way to make the users familiar with the new product. With such localised video content only, you can make people fully aware of the product and make a buying decision. For example, a native language artist is only aware that US English uses soccer and UK English uses football. In translating a video, a voiceover is added to the video which might not coincide with the original audio.
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  • Discuss with local providers: Companies which are looking to be a part of new markets, it’s important to have a clear choice of regions where you want to promote your product. These regions must have a demand for your product. Then you must have talks with subtitle providers who have clear knowledge about the local slang, dialect and have worked in the domain. These providers can only make you get acquainted with a new customer base. You can discuss the workflow of video content with these providers.
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  • The time limit for captions/subtitles: There is a specific requirement of subtitles. Not all languages have the same word length for words. For example, in Mandarin Chinese, a word might have more characters than it has in English. Whenever the subtitles are long, it’s better to have long videos, so that the video footage matches with the subtitle length.
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  • Having correct graphics-Its important to have culturally sensitive graphics in a video. For example, black is not worn in weddings in the Caucasian culture.

So, localisation of the content is quite important for creating an inclination among the local audience to watch the videos.
You can localise a video and get the best response for it from different audiences.