2016 has been a year of change, and elearning has been no exception. You only had to walk through the Learning Technologies exhibition in January to get a taste of it. Elearning was transforming into something a lot more exciting. At Kineo, we've been working on an increasing amount of video, resource-based learning and of course premiered our philosophy for designing for today's learner – WISE. So we'll all be making some fantastic stuff in 2017. But what of the older elearning that's hanging about on LMSs?
Before I go any further, let's not bash older learning too much - a lot of it was fantastic at the time and much can still deliver today. However, organisations and learners have changed, as have the devices they use. Flash has disappeared and responsive HTML – or at least something that can be viewed on tablets and mobile – is now a staple requirement for many organisations. Plus, some organisations are moving from a culture of learning interventions to one that features more just-in-time performance support. So what happens to all that learning that just doesn't quite live up to modern expectations and future-thinking L&D strategies?
We regularly see clients dust off their old courses and convert them to new formats. This can be as simple a quick spruce-up – more an upcycle that the head-to-toe regeneration you'd expect on a Doctor Who Christmas special. This may be a change from a screen-by-screen flash format to an HTML option like Storyline or Lectora. Art direction, content and interaction types often stay fairly intact. Sometimes, such a course might make it to a more radically different format like scrolling Adapt pages. Yet, the basic shape and size of things can stay very similar indeed. It's relatively quick and simple and breathes a bit of life into existing content. But as well as a simple translation from one type of elearning to another, conversion can also offer a bigger opportunity to add value for learners.
Take a moment to think about whether a straight conversion really hits the mark for learners. It isn't only tools and devices that have moved on. More and more learning is transitioning towards richer media like video (and interactive video) and just-in-time resources. One-hour interventions are less popular. Performance aids are now a key part of learning designs. Elearning is shedding its CD ROM mannerisms and moving to something aimed squarely at native web users (that's what WISE is all about). Something as simple as going from a page-by-page course to scrolling layouts requires a different design approach to get the most out of the content.
So when considering a conversion, it could be time to take full advantage of modern trends. Should those hour-long courses be broken up into bite-sized chunks? Should those photo case studies that were created before years of network upgrades stay or get replaced with video testimonials? Perhaps some content would benefit from being taken out of a module completely and get a new lease of life as a PDF job aid?
The rewriting might be minimal, but a restructure and a reappraisal of the formats used can make the different between a conversion and a bona fide upgrade. You're going to be rebuilding anyway – with a little more time and effort you can extend the shelf life even further. And thinking bite-sized makes it much easier to maintain, reuse and relaunch the training in future.
Oh, and while you're there, be brutally honest. Would some of this old learning work better in a different format all together? Are there aspects of the training that's better as a webinar or face-to-face? Is there information in there that people never use, let alone remember three month on? Consider if you can get feedback from learners to determine what you can keep and what you can cut.
So what's out there, languishing in the deepest, darkest depths of LMSs? Some organisations will have hundreds of hours of good, perennial content presented in outdated formats that don't quite match modern demands. Looking ahead to 2017, I can see a lot of L&D departments looking to set this content free, either one course at a time or wholesale to create knowledge bases and performance support. Some will choose like-for-like conversions to get learners' skills refreshed quickly and on a small budget while accommodating more devices. But for those looking to invest in content that has a longer shelf-life and a place within the knowledge management landscape of the future, it could be worth taking a longer reappraisal of that content and finding out what's really on the top of learners' wish lists these days.
To find out what solution is right for you and your business needs - talk to one of our experts.