How to keep your e-learning content current

Posted on November 7th, 2018 in E-Learning.

Is your e-learning Portfolio Relevant?

Due to the staggering amount the average company has invested in e-learning content and important changes in the last 5 years, there has been a change in how learners engage with content.  Every company needs to have an e-learning modernisation strategy to keep content relevant and effective.

Apart from business and market realities (which can also drastically change over 5 years), there are several important changes that have occurred when it comes to your learning and development portfolio.


There are three ways in which you can analyse your e-learning content inventory these are as follows:


1. Categorise Content

Categorise content based upon the changes needed to modernise. There are three changes to content that are a part of modernisation:

A. Technology Changes

E-Learning courses can be made to be more engaging by making technology changes such as making them compatible with mobile devices. Since the creation of smart devices, mobile use has grown hugely and it is calculated that 52.2% of website traffic in 2018 was on mobile devices. When you compare this to the fact that a large majority of e-learning content has not been made for mobile devices, the need for technology change is clear.

Of course there are many other technology changes that can be made to your e-learning, such as; adding video, creating more interactions or including quizzes etc. You can assess this need by considering the shelf life of the product, so…

  • Content with a short shelf life should be changed frequently and would be best developed with a rapid altering tool or an appropriate Learning Management System. The content can then be adapted quickly and used as required and needed.
  • To protect from technological compatibility issues, content with a long shelf life would best be stored in a system that is ‘future-proof’ and uses the very latest compatible software.

B. Content Changes

Of course, when content is not kept up to date and is inaccurate, your learners are going to lose interest. If they spot errors, they will also lose faith in the information the e-learning is supposed to deliver. The problem is, it can take a long time to review a course for content changes and can often mean involving lots of different people (developers, instructional designers, subject matter experts and other interested stakeholders) in the review. This can mean that even simple changes end up taking a lot of time and effort.

Of course, sometimes changes to e-learning content are ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than being strictly necessary. In these cases, we suggest it is better to simply leave the content as it is and not to be tempted to alter it. This can end up costing a lot of your learning and development budget!

 

C. Design Changes

Much the same as content changes, design changes are not always necessary, but nobody wants to view an e-learning course that looks past its sell by date and has images of people in clothes that are obviously several decades old!

Design changes don’t actually have to be too onerous where the original content was developed in a tool that easily allows alteration.

Open up your courses occasionally and give them a brief scan, you ‘ll soon be able to tell if they need altering or not.

Factors to review for design:

  • Mobile, tablet compatibility.
  • Up-to-date feel.
  • The learning experience.
  • Lack of appeal or engagement.

None are more important or critical than the others, but the difficulty of achieving each will vary from organisation to organisation.


2. Evaluate Learner Demographics

Of course, it’s not only the course that might change. Often it is the learner that adapts or alters, such as:

Generation

What worked for yesterday’s audience, might seem ‘old hat’ or too advanced for another. Most companies will have a varied workforce of different ages. Appealing to all of them is critical. It’s not good to generalise, no people from the same generation are exactly the same and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to each, especially when it comes to learning content, but learner age is important and you can and should take into consideration, the needs that people of different ages may have.

Workplace

In this day and age, people work in a variety of different environments and this means the environment they learn in can change dramatically too. Some workers will work in your typical office, but there could be people that work from their car, in a warehouse or any number of places. So, this means that you have to consider the best method of delivery for those people and how much information they might be able to absorb at any one time.

You might be able to provide to provide e-learning via video instruction to people in an office or on their mobile device, but someone in an office may need the support of a coach or colleague to deliver workplace training or other development support.

Business Characteristics

The characteristics of your business can have a huge impact on the learning that takes place. Two things that can heavily impact what training is required are turnover rates and any regulatory constraints:

Turnover Rate

When employees are leaving on a regular basis, learning and development can be hugely impacted. This can mean that you need to adapt training to suit the turnover rate, creating a quick induction or onboarding process that upskills the workforce in a short space of time and means they have all of the key skills required for the role. This might mean there is limited time for development activities that advance the employees career and instead focuses just on the skills required to do the job.

Where employees tend to spend more time within the organisation, you can afford to invest more in their development and can frame the learning on their advanced development needs. This can also create challenges though, where you will need to insure that learning remains fresh and new to an audience that have ‘heard it all before’.

Regulatory Constraints

Do your employees need to know multiple governmental and organisational regulations? For example, if you have to comply with certain regulations, those specific regulations have to be a part of the training, including certification and tracking.

3. Create An Update Plan

Lastly, we should consider creating a plan that helps us update content. This means creating action plans for both the long and short term. You can do this by considering when the content was developed:

1-3 Years Old

When learning and development interventions has been created within the last three years, you really only have to review for content that has changed. Of course, these types of changes are to be expected as a business progresses.

3-5 Years Old

Where content is 3-5 years old, it can still be relatively fresh. However, technology is changing at such a pace that it can make your content seem out of date. In this case, you should check that the learning works with new technology and that the design standards are as you would expect to see them, taking into account the modern requirements. Some products allow a quick updates of templates and style through customisation tools that can help modernise things. In other cases, you might need to spend some time reviewing and adapting the design and style yourself.

>5 Years Old

Often, content that is as old as five years or more has served it’s purpose and should be archived. However, it’s also possible that the content is still just as relevant and simply needs to be refreshed for the modern age. This is especially true if you have continue done the reviews at previous points. If the content is good enough and still serves a good purpose, you should not be scared to update it for a modern age.

Modernised E-Learning Programmes Increase ROI and Engagement

Modernising legacy content has the potential of increasing ROI by reusing the investment of old content in new ways and creating content creation standards that extend shelf life and reduce the cost of future updates. Most importantly, by updating and standardising content you improve the learning experience, learner engagement, and learning outcomes.

With significant investments in content development, companies need to search for ways to repurpose content across various learning programs.

Content development can be a costly process and once you have learning materials across different learning programmes and strategies, you should be sure to keep on top of them and ensure you review consistently. Not only will this increase the ROI, but it will also help increase engagement by modernising the look and feel of courses to match the changes in learner demographics.

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