Path 1: Don’t convert the course
Presumably, the course was first developed for some worthy business or performance need. The first decision you should make is whether the course is still needed today. Organizational insight may make the answer obvious, but if things are murky, check in with the business stakeholders, subject matter experts or top performers to ask:
Does the business need still exist?
Does the performance need still exist?
Do the knowledge or skill requirements still exist?
If the answer to all three questions is no, there isn’t a reason to convert the course. If the answer is yes to one or more of the questions, the course will follow one of the other paths.
Path 2: Republish from old technology to new
We’ve found it useful to think about the conversion process as republishing, rebuilding, and redesigning. Each represents different level of effort and may involve resources with different skill sets.
A course may take the REPUBLISH path when:
Source files are available.
The course was built with an authoring tool (in other words, NOT programmed by hand in Flash).
Existing structure and content can be mapped to new templates.
No content changes are required.
In this category, a conversion or authoring tool will be used. Levels of effort to REPUBLISH a course can be broken into three levels:
LOW: Course has basic interactions and most will function in new technology.
MEDIUM: Requires re-creating a few, simple course elements.
HIGH: Requires re-creating many course elements or when interactions are complex, video and/or audio that cannot be reused, requires visual enhancements.
Path 3: REBUILD the course following the existing course content structure
A course will take the REBUILD path when:
Either the source files are not available, or course was programmed by hand in Flash.
Most of the existing structure and content can be mapped to new templates.
Limited redesign needed to move from Flash to authoring tool functionality.
Levels of effort to REBUILD a course are broken into three levels:
LOW: Simple updates to content and course design; no audio or video.
MEDIUM: Moderately complex course design and more interactivity; course includes audio or video.
HIGH: Complex course design. Course requires redesign to move from Flash to authoring tool functionality.
Other considerations when converting courses
Ensure you have the right resources to support the different paths. Courses which are simply moving from an older technology to a newer technology (Path 2: Republish) can be assigned to resources with programming or authoring tool skills. Courses in Path 4 require significant changes to course content, flow, activities and interactivity and should always be assigned to a skilled Instructional Designer.
In many cases, courses built in Flash were designed extravagantly, filled with “seductive elements” like music, animation, sound, and other exciting effects. Research1 finds that unless absolutely necessary for the instructional objective, these elements have a detrimental effect on learning and retention. The conversion process is an opportunity to
Revamp course templates to simplify and standardize interactions
Streamline course content
Remove unnecessary distractions
The lasts versions of many popular authoring tools offer the HTML5 output, so put some thought into selecting the right authoring tool to use. Consider the need for responsive design if training will be delivered to mobile devices, the skill set of the internal team who may need to maintain the course, etc.
Be flexible, although you spend some time upfront pick the right path for each course, it isn’t perfect, and some will probably move from one path to another.
If 2019 is your conversion year, we can help!
1-Will Thalheimer; Bells, Whistles, Neon, and Purple Prose: When Interesting Words, Sounds, and Visuals Hurt Learning and Performance – a Review of Seductive-Augmentation Research; 2004