With the fast approaching phase-out of Adobe Flash in 2020, now is the time to start laying the groundwork for your e-learning in a truly post-Flash world. While many of us have already started this transition with the tools we use, there are a number of considerations to make to ensure the effort is strategic and well thought-out across your entire e-learning infrastructure.
1. Purge and Prioritize.
Just as every house can benefit from some good spring cleaning, a learning management system (LMS) can, too. LMSs can become cluttered with courseware that is outdated and outmoded. Identify Flash-based courseware and take this opportunity to evaluate what is worth keeping and what you need to decommission. Some courses will be obvious candidates for purging, while others are clear-cut for updating, and some may require additional consideration. Taking the time to prioritize which courses to retain will allow you to focus on (and only on) committing time and resources toward conversion and updates of the most important courses.
2. Expand Your Audience.
The lack of support for Flash on mobile devices and platforms is undoubtedly one of the primary catalysts that has driven its rapid decline. For this reason, any transition from Flash should inherently take mobile delivery into account. Take this time to assess how well your LMS currently handles training deployment to mobile devices or what your LMS provider’s plans are to support such deployment in the near future. To gain the full benefits of your transition to a post-Flash world, you will want to be able to reach a mobile audience. Without an LMS that is designed, set up and tested for mobile learning delivery, you can end up with a missed opportunity to expand your audience and get the most out of your investment.
3. Convert and Upgrade.
With a course priority list and your LMS infrastructure analysis complete, it is time to convert your courses. As part of the conversion process, you will want to not only upgrade to a non-Flash output but also take the time to assess areas where there is an opportunity or need to alter your design. In many cases, HTML5 will be the output of choice, but in other cases, you may decide to deploy standalone video or well-formatted job aids or infographics from your LMS. Within the HTML5 delivery format alone, there are several variables to consider, such as responsive versus scalable, accessibility features, or scrolling design. The final format of your converted content will influence its design and is an opportunity to re-evaluate how the training was written in its original Flash format. The end result is not only improved back-end technology and interface design but also better content and instructional design.
4. Test and Optimize.
There are many options available for creating updated content. You may already be using authoring tools that provide various methods for developing content that can be exported as Flash or HTML5. If you are already using these tools, you may have decided to start relying more heavily on the HTML5 output. Alternately, you may be considering or have decided to pursue cloud-based tools. Regardless of which products you use, never rely solely on what a tool says it can do. It is important to test your solution in order to validate performance and optimize your design based on those findings. Document any standards or lessons you learn along the way.
5. Work the Plan.
Once you have a plan in place, it is time to execute it. How you do so may vary based on funding, resources and internal capabilities. Determine which courses are most important to convert first and the date by which you need to convert them. In some instances, conversion may require additional external resources due to internal overload or the need for additional expertise. Be realistic about timelines, and if you are starting the conversion process for the first time, select a course that is smaller and less complex as a starting point.
6. Deliver Results.
In the end, a successful transformation requires both strategic planning and tactical execution. While the sunsetting of Flash is a driver behind the transformation, embracing the larger opportunity will help you enhance and optimize your e-learning, delivering meaningful results to the learners and the business.