So what? What it means is that none of your Flash e-learning courses or courses that contain Flash animations will work.
But all is not lost. You can salvage your Flash courses that have valuable, relevant training content. The best way to do this is by converting your Flash courses to HTML5.
Flash once held sway over eLearning development, thanks to its ability to create a wide range of interactivities and animations. However, its usage gradually diminished due to the increasing use of authoring tools – their ease of use and other advantages.
When Steve Jobs decided not to support Flash in any iOS device including Apple’s iPads and iPhones, it was the final blow and most major browsers have either already blocked or are geared to block Flash output. Adobe itself has announced that it will discontinue Flash after 2020, and the glorious era of Flash is all set to end.
In this scenario, do you let go of your Flash courses? Definitely not, especially if they have relevant content that is of use to your learners.
What about mobile devices and the millennials? Well, see these numbers:
If you have been using eLearning since the last decade, it is highly likely that you still use courses developed in Flash or which contain Flash components.
It is also likely that some of the content has become obsolete and certain graphics old-fashioned. You may want to revise the content and renovate the graphics.
Businesses and employees gain alike by converting Flash-based eLearning to HTML5. Here’s how:
1. Improves your training ROI
By converting Flash courses to HTML5, you can continue to enjoy the returns on your initial investment.
2. Future-proofs your eLearning & mobile learning
HTML5 is open source and a language. It does not need any plugins, is compatible across platforms, and not going to become obsolete as it isn’t a proprietary product.
3. Improves the security of online learning content
Compared to Flash with its plugins that made a device vulnerable to security threats, HTML5 offers robust security.
1. Promotes a learning culture
With learners having uninterrupted access to courses, learning becomes a continual process. Learners can access learning resources when they have a desire to learn or at the moment of need.
2. Makes blended learning a reality
HTML5-based eLearning can be accessed anytime, anywhere. They combine the classroom, eLearning, and performance support, making blended learning possible, enhancing performance.
3. Makes device-independent learning a reality
HTML5-based courses run on all devices and browsers. Learners are no longer restricted to one device to access learning resources.
4. Enables offline access of learning resources
Whether your learners are on the move, on the field, or in remote areas with intermittent Internet connection, HTML5 courses can be accessed even offline. This is possible through a mobile app or through authoring tools such as Storyline and Lectora which offer options to publish offline.
All this while, we’ve discussed the obvious benefits of converting Flash courses to HTML5. However, the conversion also gives you an opportunity to take stock and improve your legacy courses holistically. This especially makes sense if your Flash-based courses are instructionally weak or lengthy.
The other benefits that would accrue are the opportunity to:
By now, you must be convinced that converting your Flash courses to HTML5 makes a lot of business sense. But how do you proceed with the actual conversion? You can choose from 4 conversion strategies – the 4 ‘R’s a we call them.
The complexity involved in converting Flash to HTML5 increases from the Record to the Redesign methodology.
To get clarity, it’s time to ask yourself some questions:
While you may have the source files for a few of your Flash courses, some courses may not have them. Similarly, you might want to configure just a few of your courses into microlearning, while others might need only content updates. So you can convert Flash courses to HTML5 in four different ways, depending on what you wish to accomplish.
As a training manager, you need to identify which conversion strategy works best for your Flash courses. And most often than not, a common strategy can’t be applied as your legacy courses will be in various conditions and will need varying levels of rework.
This flowchart encapsulates the Flash to HTML5 conversion methodology selection.
As discussed earlier, we can convert Flash courses to HTML5 even without the source files using the Record conversion strategy. However, what if you need to extract content from those courses to reuse the content?
Converting Flash to HTML5 is not always straightforward and you might come across some problems such as having to extract content without the source files or being unable to replicate the interactivities in the Flash courses.
Here are some insights on the issues that might arise and the probable workarounds.
In such cases, you can extract content from existing Flash courses using software such as Microsoft OneNote or online OCR.
Using OCR software, you can download the course content to a MS Word document, which also makes it easy to translate the content into various languages.
If the courses are easy to learn, you can always opt for the ‘Record’ conversion strategy. However, if you need to retain the interactivities, Articulate Storyline helps you convert Flash interactivities quickly and easily. In case the exact match isn’t available, if offers the closest alternative.
When converting Flash courses to HTML5, if you come across interactivities such as rollovers, hotspots, or drag and drop in the legacy courses that are unwieldy on mobiles, you will need to convert them to alternative interactivities such as click on tabs – which work seamlessly on mobiles.
When you modify the interactivities in the HTML5 courses or add the latest content, these changes will impact the audio too. In such cases, if it’s feasible, re-record the audio. If it isn’t, ensure edits are highlighted onscreen and include clear instructions for the interactivities – and remove the old audio.
All modern eLearning authoring tools that offer HTML5 output can be used to convert Flash courses to HTML5. However, each tool scores over others in specific areas. Let’s check what each of the top 4 authoring tools work best for when converting Flash to HTML5.
With its low learning curve and ease of customization, Articulate Storyline is the first option to convert Flash courses to HTML5.
Storyline makes it easy to convert Flash interactivities to HTML5, and for those that can’t be replicated, it offers the best-fit alternative.
Storyline 360 has a responsive player that resizes content to fit the device the course is being viewed on. Articulate Rise on the other hand, is fully responsive, rearranging content based on the dimensions of the device being used.
The Fluid Box feature of Captivate 2017 makes it easy to make your Flash-based courses responsive. Though the learning curve is steeper than Storyline, Adobe Captivate is the go-to tool when your Flash courses have a lot of simulations.
The Fluid Box feature ensures that the design of the content adapts to every device, right from desktops to smartphones and tablets.
Adobe Captivate offers a HTML5 Tracker that lists all the problems encountered when converting Flash eLearning to HTML5, on a slide by slide basis.
Text-heavy Flash courses can be converted to HTML5 with surprising ease using Lectora Inspire. A slide created in Lectora offers the option of a scroll bar that can accommodate more content on the screen.
Lectora also offers excellent support to translations with its unique switchable interface feature. Not to forget the scope for collaborative development offered by Lectora Online.
The iSpring Suite offers quick conversion of PPTs to learner-centric courses with its range of features that support the inclusion of videos, dialog simulations, and a variety of assessments. So, if you have the storyboards of your legacy courses, iSpring is a time-saver.
Apart from these popular authoring tools, several other authoring tools such as dominKnow, gomo, and Adapt can be explored for Flash to HTML5 conversions.
However, you should select the authoring tool based on factors such as the:
At the outset, converting Flash to HTML5 might sound simple. However, it is quite a challenging task, with many variables. For starters, let’s consider the inputs (legacy courses) available for conversion. As discussed, you might not have the source files for all your Flash-based courses. Courses might be of different durations, developed in various authoring tools, with varying levels of animations and interactivities, and on different training topics.
Imagine the complexity involved when you have hundreds or thousands of courses to be converted from Flash to HTML5. Therefore, project management is key to the success of any Flash to HTML5 conversion project.
You will have to plan and prioritize the Flash courses to be converted. This is a huge task; not to mention the effort involved in liaising with and coordinating the workflows of multiple people such as project stakeholders, subject matter experts, instructions designers, and authoring tool experts. All risks, opportunities, and the project status have to be documented and communicated on a regular basis.
While project management involves several tasks to streamline the conversion, there are three main areas you should focus on to drive success:
Flash-based courses are primarily converted to HTML5 to make them compatible with multiple devices and browsers. Ensuring zero-error conversions across devices and browsers requires establishing stringent quality standards – quality assurance and quality check.
Project managers must take into account several inputs such as the legacy courses and eLearning style guides to establish these quality checklists. These include:
When converting Flash courses to HTML5, you can also standardize the converted courses for a uniform look and feel. Developing templates goes a long way in making this possible, along with saving development time and effort.
One common approach is to develop templates (wireframes) for the common screens in legacy courses. For instance, for one of our customers, we developed wireframes for assessment-only screens, read and acknowledge screens, and non-sequential learning screens.
Analyzing the legacy courses and identifying common screens is crucial to ensure appropriate templates are developed, saving time.
Once these checklists and templates are prepared, you will have to ensure the development team is trained on using them. Each time new devices are added, or new issues are fixed, quality checklists must be updated and the team re-trained. If new resources are added due to contingencies, they need to be brought up to speed on all standards and tools. It is crucial that the entire team be trained on:
Step 1: Collect the source files of the courses to be converted
Step 2: Extract the relevant content and media elements from the courses – and use a proper folder structure to store them
Step 3: Decide on the authoring tool you want to use
Step 4: Finalize the GUI (Graphical User Interface) and interactivities to be used in the new courses
Step 5: Pick templates for the quick development of interactivities and assessments
Step 6: Develop a prototype – preferably one for each conversion strategy
Step 7: Get stakeholders’ approval for the conversion
Step 8: Develop and publish all courses, according to the selected conversion strategy
Step 9: Perform a thorough quality check of the courses on multiple devices and browsers – before rolling out the courses to learners
Several organizations have started converting Flash courses to HTML5 to extend the utility and reach of their training resources. We’ve helped several of our customers do the same and here’s a glimpse into one project where we converted 1500 Flash-based courses to HTML5, for a multinational firm.
To convert 1500+ courses developed in Flash and courses with Flash elements to HTML5, for multi-device compatibility
We converted 1500 legacy courses to fully functional responsive eLearning, within 12 months, using the authoring tool Lectora Online, clocking in 45,000 human-hours.
If you have 5-10 courses to be converted from Flash to HTML5, you can do it in-house. However, if you have anything between 150-1500 courses, imagine the complexity involved – especially the magnitude of project management. You will also have to invest in hiring people of multiple skills sets and licenses of software, just for the conversion, if you do it in-house – definitely not recommended.
It is therefore a sound business decision to outsource your Flash to HTML5 conversion when you have a huge volume of courses to be converted. However, the key is to select a reputed eLearning vendor with prior experience in converting Flash to HTML5.
With their expertise in instructional design, authoring tools, and project management, a reputed vendor will ensure you receive zero-error courses, that match your requirements – within your stipulated timelines.
However, not every eLearning vendor will have hands-on experience in Flash to HTML5 conversion, particularly on a large scale. So, the ability to achieve scale and experience have to be major signposts when looking for a conversion partner.
Here are some signposts that’ll help you identify the right conversion partner.
Ask shortlisted vendors these 3 questions:
Are you ready to convert your Flash courses to HTML5? With the countdown to the end of 2020 ticking away, it’s time you make a decision.
Share your courses with us and we would be happy to analyze them and let you know which strategies you can leverage.