CommonSpaces aims to be an international space where people and communities from many countries meet and interact, using different languages. This page aims to provide a very short presentation of the multilingual features of the CommonS Platform, which hosts CommonSpaces.
Language is a concern of CommonSpaces at (at least) 3 interdependent levels:
- the language used by the CommonS platform itself to welcome its users and to ensure a fluent navigation
- the language used by the CommonSpaces members to communicate among them at a global level and inside specific projects
- the language in which are available the educational resources (ER), being catalogued, reused and - in perspective - developed in CommonSpaces.
UI Language selection
The user interface (UI) of the CommonS Platform encompasses, together with page layouts and images, a variety of texts representing messages, captions, instructions and general information.
The "reference language" for the UI is English, which for historical reasons acts as a lingua franca. Two other languages, Italian and Portuguese are supported for a long time, while the French version of the UI is work is in progress. We have put online also experimental UI translations for Arabic, Russian and Croatian, but it is necessary that someone revise and complete them; this is especially true for Arabic. Support of Spanish is planned.
The CommonS Platform knows from the web browser which is the preferred language of the user; it also allows the user to dynamically change the language setting for the current session, by using a widget, at the right end of the menubar, always showing the "active language". Switching between languages is safe as long as the user is navigating the site and doesn't add contents to it.
The communication and interaction language
Users can communicate among them directly, by exchanging private messages, and less directly by writing posts in forums, by chatting and by commenting the contents added by other users when cataloguing and reusing OERs.
Each user chooses freely the language to use in these cases, doing a balance between his/her linguistic ability and the target audience. No translation service is available for this kind of communication, nor is currently planned.
Multilinguality of the platform contents
By "platform contents" we refer to the user generated contents (UCG), consisting mainly in descriptions of people and of educational resources; more precisely, descriptions of Communities and Projects, of reusable resources (OERs), of external Repositories of OERs and of Learning Paths (artifacts which compose and possibly remix OERs). So, we are speaking of so-called metadata, that is of data that describe/annotate other data (or contents) and world entities.
Well, in CommonSpaces we allow and encourage the authors of the contents, and possibly other people, to make available those contents in different languages.
Unlike the UI and some "editorial contents", the platform contents - in the meaning above
- haven't necessarily English as their reference language: they can be authored in any language supported for the UI
- can be translated to any other supported language.
When a user acts as an author of some content, the choice of the active language is a concern, since it will determine the reference language (also called the "original editing language") of that piece of content and the possibility of translating it to other languages. Another help page will address the technical details of contents translation.