By now, most eLearning professionals know that content published to Flash must be redesigned, or at least republished to HTML5 before the clock runs out on Flash support. The conversion process creates the opportunity to consider a new video-based architecture for designing and delivering rich media eLearning courses.
Using video to deliver instructional content has important benefits for flexibility of delivery, content and format longevity, and learner engagement. To better understand these benefits, we invite you to review our earlier posts linked below.
In this article we’ll explore 3 paths for converting existing Flash-based content to eLearning video. We’ll assess the pros and cons of each approach and suggest use-cases that may be appropriate for each.
1. Screen-capture course and convert to video
If your flash eLearning content is primarily information presentation without interactivity, screen capture is the fastest and simplest option. You can use capture software such as Camtasia, Captivate or QuickTime to record a play-through of your Flash content, and then export it as one or more videos. You may need to make minor edits and adjust the size and aspect ratio to optimize the presentation for your LMS. If the content contains an assessment, you must rebuild the assessment in an authoring tool or in your LMS.
The pros for this approach are speed and minimal cost. It is fast and cheap because the design is unchanged, and you don’t need to assemble all of the original assets for authoring project file. The major con is that visual, or instructional design flaws of the original course are carried forward to the updated version.
This method is especially useful if you don’t have access to the project file, or media assets used to create the original course. This conversion approach only requires access to the published version of the Flash-based course.
2. Convert your existing content to video.
If you have access to the media assets used to build the Flash-based course and intermediate-level video editing skills, you should consider a hybrid approach that reuses the original course visual assets and course narration. These assets are re-assembled in a video editing tool such as Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or Camtasia. This strategy allows you to make minor updates to the course while you save the time and cost required to conduct a new instructional design process and create new graphics from scratch. Many of the media files you used in your Flash-based authoring tool can be easily imported directly into, or exported for use with, video editing software.
This hybrid approach, may provide a bridge for repurposing old content when you don’t have the time or budget to launch a major redesign project. Compared to option 1, this method requires additional video editing and general media processing skills. A key for success is to conduct a thorough review of the current course and inventory all media assets. This will allow you to validate which assets can and cannot be reused and better analyze the time and cost of rebuilding the course. If the analysis points to higher costs, you can use the inventory as a starting point to consider a full redesign which we cover as option 3.
3. Redesign your content for video.
When an aging Flash course is too expensive to repurpose, or the instructional objectives are obsolete, you should plan for a full redesign. This is an opportunity to rethink the course and consider microlearning techniques. You should explore using a new video-based architecture because video is an excellent media for supporting microlearning. It broadens the options for deploying content, which expands the audience for your work. The key to success is to analyze and reshape learning objectives into “learning chunks,” that can be used as part of a sequential learning experience or as standalone topics appropriate for social media, user-support libraries and email delivery.
The skills and tools necessary to design eLearning video are more assessible than ever. Learners expect engaging video experiences and increasingly shun courses that are designed like an automated PowerPoint. As you consider the best tools and media for your instructional design, avoid the “authoring tool versus video editing tool” proposition. Pragmatic designs will maximize the strength of each toolset to create the best experience for the learner. The key is to ensure that learning is not “locked up” in an LMS system or in SCORM files that cannot be easily used outside of a conventional eLearning deployment framework. Creating eLearning content as video keeps it portable so that it can be used inside and outside the LMS.
There is much more to cover about using video for instructional design, and we’ll cover additional detail in future articles.
Keeping your content fresh and usable on current platforms can be a daunting process. But video is here to stay, and by converting your Flash-based eLearning content to a format that’s more appealing to learners and better suited for the long haul, you will ensure the best user experience and content longevity.
For a glimpse at how SkillQ approaches the eLearning development and publishing process, visit our Services page at www.skillq.com/services.