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Converting flash training to mlearning

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Training catalogs are growing larger every day and learning leaders often have a wealth of online learning content to share with their organization.  Content, created in Adobe Flash for a pc environment has dutifully served its purpose over the past several years. The explosion of mobile devices is not new but their use in learning is becoming far more commonplace. These mobile devices and hybrids( using mobile operating systems and touchscreens) creates a number of challenges in today corporate training environments.  Learning and Development leaders are faced with converting flash training to mlearning but struggle with the best approach?  This blog article explores the two options and 4 key factors in chosing the best for your learning.

First let’s discuss the two options:

Convert – This involves obtaining the source files for the Adobe Flash based learning and using a recent authoring tool to produce a deployment file in HTML5

Re-Write – Developing the content natively in an HTML5 compliant authoring tool.  In other words creating a “new” source file.

If the source is available then conversion sounds easy but scratch the surface and its much more involved than pressing a button in the authoring tool.  Of course if the source is not available the content will need to be recreated in HTML5  with the help of a mobile learning developer and instructional designer.  Here are the 4 key factors to consider when converting your online training to mobile learning

Interactivity

How much do we ask the learner to use the mouse pointer to interact with the learning?  Are we asking the learner to depress buttons, move objects, engage in animations, sliders, etc with a mouse pointer?.  This can be key determinant in how mobile learning is approached.  The mouseand large screen of a typical laptop or desktop is a very capable and accurate tool that permits far more precise user interactions with content.  Consider taking the same interactions and “downsizing them to an 8 in or 4.5 to 5 in screen and you may get a very different result.  We have all tried to use a non mobile web form on our mobile devices; its not easy!  If your leanring requires a significant amount of interaction and tactile content consider that a strong barrier to migrating it directly to a mobile learning format.

How long?

The length of typical eLearning ranges from 8-30 minutes.  Yes we all dread the lengthy elearning course taken on a pc but that is the reality.  Consider the location where PC based flash learning is viewed.  In an office, computer room/training room, or at home.  These locations represent dedicated, fixed learning environments where connectivity, interruptions and distractions are minimized.  Consider that a user on a mobile device may only be able to interact with the learning content for a few minutes during a break, or on their commute.  In these instances the learner may not have a reliable, consistent connections to the content.  When considering whether to convert your existing online learning from PC to mobile formats consider length as a barrier.  Creating abridged versions sometimes works but ask if removing content will compromise the learning objectives? 

Keyboard Required?

In the existing content, to what extent did the instructional designers require text input from the learner?  Is the learner required to read a scenario and provide answers or feedback that is later exposed in the content for review and reflection.  These are somewhat common practices in elearning but not always the best fit for mobile devices.  Mobile learners may be in shared spaces without the benefit of physical keyboards.  Online learning more suitable for mobile devices will require interactions of a different type, games that are easier to manage on a smaller screen, simple selections. 

Can you maintain the Learning Objectives?

Ultimately we want to strike a balance with our mobile learning so that we are not merely communicating but also providing interesting learning that will not require complex and cumbersome interactions on a mobile device.  It should be noted that if in the process of transitioning your learning from PC/Flash to mobile/HTML5 requires scraping away all the interactions that you have not removed the learning value and really just created a communication video.

In the Final Analysis….

…this all could have been summed up by asking the question – what is the difference in time, effort and efficacy if I convert to HTML5 vs. re-write natively for HTML5?  Will I require the assistance of an instructional designer who will need to redesign the significant amounts of the content?  If so then perhaps taking a new/fresh look at this is essential.  Consider the learning objectives upon which the pc/flash learning was create and If at any point your mobile learning, after conversion, does not support them.

 

PETER MATAMALA