Sustainable Technology Solutions
The evolutionary speed of modern technology and eLearning trends mean it’s important to think ahead and choose technology solutions that can change as your organizational needs change. At the very least, solutions need to stay relevant and not become outdated in the short term. This will increase the stability of your eLearning program and reduce scrambling (and money spent) to keep up with the times.
When signing multi-year contracts, people usually choose to work with stable, established companies to ensure they do not go under during the duration of the contract. A similar approach should be applied to technology choices and eLearning solutions.
This article reviews some technologies that are not only adaptable but highly likely to be around for a long time. It also presents some solutions and strategies for designing eLearning programs that will make it easy to adapt as situations change.
Best Technologies To Use
xAPI is still a relatively new technology solution that is used with—and may eventually replace—SCORM. It’s a specification that captures the learning experiences of users both inside and outside of the organization’s primary learning environment (such as an LMS). For example, it can collect data from external learning sources, such as LinkedIn Learning, external certificates, and even a book.
xAPI is future proof on two levels: It is an established technology that is adaptable and becoming more commonly used. As new sources of learning experiences pop up, you don’t have to wait for a specific link between the company LMS and the new eLearning content to be developed by programmers as you would with SCORM. You can start recording those experiences right away.
Modular content is a course-building strategy, rather than a technology, but it is enabled by certain technologies being more widespread to support its use. Modular content builds content in small pieces (think similar to microlearning but not limited to microlearning). These pieces are easy to swap out. If you film a 40-minute lecture and certain information changes, you either need to film a new one or awkwardly edit it by cutting pieces and perhaps adding in a new video that will not match the old video. Modular learning is information that exists in small chunks, for example, eight five-minute modules. If one of those modules becomes outdated, you would only need to replace that short module. You can see how this would be both time- and cost-efficient.
There are many other benefits to modular learning. Users can return to specific information without searching through a long video. They can fit smaller modules more easily into their workday. It can make it easier to implement personalized learning. There are more benefits. But in the context of future-proof L&D, it’s one of the most important course-building strategies.
The good news is you don’t have to start over with creating your courses to have modular content. Much of the content you already have can likely be broken up into smaller modules. This will bring you the benefits of modular learning now while setting up your future self for easier content updates.
Widely-Used And Export-Friendly Formats
You can do a great job choosing the perfect LMS for your organization, and even choose one with future growth in mind, but one day your organization’s needs will change. That’s why when you choose an LMS and eLearning authoring tools, you should ensure that you are using the widest-used standards of content format. This means that if you need to move your content elsewhere, you can with minimal hassle.
Part of this is making sure that content is updated to new formats while you can. For example, support for Adobe Flash—which used to be the most common format for eLearning—recently stopped. Essentially, it cannot be used anymore. Companies with legacy Flash courses that did not bother exporting the content to new formats as the new formats became widespread had to scramble to recreate those courses in labor-intensive and awkward ways. For example, some courses had to be screen recorded to preserve them because the file was so old it could not be converted by modern authoring tools.
During the Flash crisis, some people could have converted their courses if they had the original assets and files, but those files were lost and they only had the exported course. In some cases, the only file they had was the one in the LMS. That means that it’s also important to keep track of and organize all files associated with course-building for as long as you are using pieces of that course, even if it has been 10 years since it was originally created.
Keep Control Over Content And Assets
It’s important to read contracts carefully and own the rights to all your assets. There are some companies that retain the rights to content created in their software or using their assets. In the past, organizations have found themselves in the position of not being able to take their custom eLearning content elsewhere because they did not own the rights to that content or pieces of that content. Even if it’s more expensive, owning all your assets is worth it in the end to keep control over all your content and do what you wish with it.
For The Most Future-Proof L&D, Always Keep Learning
At the end of the day, there is only so much that anyone can predict. Stay knowledgeable by regularly reading about new technologies. You may have so many other day-to-day responsibilities that you can only read so much about this constantly growing field. That’s why it’s key to maintain relationships with eLearning experts and consultants who make it their daily business to be on the cutting edge of L&D.
Right now, the above tips are some of the best things you can do to keep your eLearning relevant but the absolute best!