The Adobe Flash Player is going away at the end of 2020. That means that your Flash-based courses will fail to play on web browsers, resulting in a frustrating learning experience. Are you prepared? Kris Castiaux, a Senior Instructional Designer on ePath Learning’s Pro Services team, has over 20 years of experience building engaging and effective custom courseware solutions. In this two-part blog post, she answers some key questions that will help you get started with the Flash to HTML5 conversion process.
Why is Flash going away?
The Flash Player was once the Gold Standard for delivering multimedia and interactive elements online. However, it has become much less popular in recent years due to increased vulnerabilities in the software, performance issues, and incompatibility with mobile devices. As a result, Adobe (which distributes Flash) will stop updating, distributing, and supporting the Flash Player at the end of 2020. Most web browsers are already phasing out support for Flash.
Official Statement from Adobe (July 2017)
“In collaboration with several of our technology partners –
including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla,
Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will
stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.”
What can I do?
The solution is to convert your Flash-based courses to HTML5. HTML5 is the fifth generation of Hypertext Markup Language (or HTML)—a coding language used to publish media-rich online content. It is ideal for deployment across all devices (desktops/laptops to tablets and smartphones) because it’s device responsive—the published content automatically identifies and adapts to fit the screen size for the device on which it is being viewed. It can also be published using a variety of eLearning standards, including AICC, SCORM, and TinCan (xAPI), so user data can be tracked by most existing Learning Management Systems (LMSs).
How much time/effort will this take?
At a minimum, you will need to republish your current content in HTML5—but it is also a great opportunity to refresh your approach. Overall, the time/effort depends on the amount of content you need to convert, whether or not content updates are needed, and your company’s access to and experience with the required software.
I have many courses. Where do I start?
We recommend prioritizing your courses by learner need and level of effort. This will help you start formulating a conversion strategy. This does, however, require a judgment call—how critical is the course, and does any of the content need to be revised? Consider the following while prioritizing:
- High-traffic courses
These courses are critical to the day-to-day function of the organization and should have the highest priority. Basically, they just need a tech upgrade.
- Critical, stable content
The content in these courses is also critical to the day-to-day function of the organization, but may require some minor content changes in addition to a tech upgrade.
- Non-critical, but important content
These courses may need significant content revisions as well as a tech upgrade.
- New courses that need to be built from scratch
NOTE: New courses with critical content may be given higher priority.
Tips: While you may not necessarily need to make any changes to your content, this IS a really good time to take stock of your current course catalogue.
- Does the course look or feel out-of-date? This might be a good time to update your visuals or instructional approach.
- Retire obsolete courses. Before retiring a course, review the content and consider what’s important. Migrate any applicable content into another relevant course or, maybe, reformat it as a job aid.
- Go Micro. Do learners complain that your courses are too long? Consider a “microlearning” approach that gives learners access to targeted lessons: on-demand, on the job, on the go, or on a mobile device.
I’ve prioritized my courses…now what?
Once you have your courses prioritized, you need to make a plan. An action plan is key to a successful Flash to HTML5 conversion. Here are some steps you can take:
- Create a Spreadsheet
List all the courses and their priority in a spreadsheet and use it to track your progress through the conversion process.
- Make a Schedule
The overall deadline to migrate Flash to HTML5 is the end of 2020, but you might have to meet internal deadlines first. Start with the date the converted course needs to “go live” and work backward to create a development schedule.
- Consider your Budget
Budgeting helps you set goals and identify constraints. Think about the following:
- What is your financial budget for the conversion?
- When does the course need to “go live”? (temporal budget)
- Is the conversion a straight tech upgrade or a content update too?
- Can you do the conversion in-house, or do you need a partner?
- Select the Right Tool
Several authoring tools are available for HTML5 output. Consider the following when making your selection:
- Do the tools you currently use have HTML5 publishing options?
- Do you need to purchase new development tools/technology?
- Do you need a responsive solution for mobile deployment?
- Would you like to have access to royalty-free images or templates?
- Does your team have the required skillsets? Or is training needed?
- Don’t have the time or budget for new software or training? Consider a partnership with a company (like ePath Learning Pro Services) who has the software and experience to help facilitate a smooth conversion.
- Outline the Process
Once you understand your parameters, you can outline the specific steps you’ll need to take to complete the conversion.
You should now have an idea of which courses should have the highest priority, and the resources you’ll need to gather before you start your conversion. In Migrating from Flash to HTML5—Part 2 Kris will give you some tips for navigating the conversion process.
Kris Castiaux | Learning Environment Concierge | ePath Learning, Inc.
About the Author: Kris Castiaux is a Learning Environment Concierge (instructional designer) focused on creating impactful and effective learning experiences and environments. She’s always on the lookout for innovative ways to engage learners within the budget and technical constraints of the project. When she has a few days off, you may find Kris and her husband cruising the Caribbean or the Las Vegas strip!