5 Cost-Effective Tips to Prioritize Flash-to-HTML5

Content rebuild should only be implemented with coursework that is mandatory or offers ROI, including legal, compliance, and other regulatory content.

While Adobe is phasing out Flash in 2020, many Learning and Development (L&D) professionals now are deep into converting their libraries of Flash-based courses to HTML5. 

L&D leaders need to meet this deadline and ensure ongoing employee training and retention, while keeping costs within budget during the transition. This begs the question: How can L&D professionals make the transition to HTML5 as smooth as possible for their organization?

The History of Flash

Until the 1990s, employees only had access to e-learning and other program tools through CD-ROMs. By 2002, while Elon Musk was founding SpaceX and American Idolwas premiering for the masses, Adobe Flash content was all the rage in L&D, allowing corporate Learning professionals to train employees through new channels. Flash was seen as the gold standard, and organizations’ content and training libraries grew to accommodate interactivity, animation, and more. 

Now with the end of life nearing for Flash, Learning professionals will need to evaluate their libraries and convert necessary Flash-based content to HTML5—no easy task. However, many companies are well under way with the transition of Web content from Flash to HTML5, as the percentage of daily Chrome users who have loaded at least one page containing Flash content per day has gone from approximately 80 percent in 2014 to less than 8 percent in early 2018. 

The Move to HTML5 

With Adobe Flash witnessing a decline in overall usage, the company decided to retire Flash in 2020, because it would be costly to support. Now, transition notwithstanding, most Websites are using HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3 as the de facto client-side means for Website interactivity. 

Before transitioning an entire training library from Flash to HTML5, corporate Learning professionals should ask themselves the following questions to ensure consistency with their content and L&D goals: 

  1. How do your employees watch/engage with learning programs?

Learning professionals should consider device form factors, especially if the majority of learners are consuming this content on a mobile device, rather than a desktop. BYOD (bring your own device) is also a necessary element when considering device form factors, as responsive design can be helpful when using several different platforms and tools. Responsive Web design allows Learning professionals to program content for a variety of sizes and devices, from iPads to desktops, and even those that are not yet on the market. 

  1. Has your animation model goal been attained? 

When Adobe Flash animation first was introduced, many organizations included superfluous animation for added flair. According to experts, some of this animation did not enhance learners’ retention and engagement, and was not successful from an L&D perspective. 

L&D managers will want to incorporate animated elements into their content that will engage users. Consider integrating the latest tech advancement: augmented reality (AR). 

  1. Do you need interactivity? 

Keeping in mind that interactive content that worked well with Adobe Flash may not be consistent with HTML5, now is a good time to evaluate the need. Interactive content may be more dynamic, but it’s not mandatory. Certain content can be just as effective with slides or PDFs.

Also, considering the level of an e-learning module will help to determine if interactivity is needed, as level one “page-turner content” will not need animation; however, level two and level three content may warrant additional elements to reach education goals. 

Minimizing Costs When Converting to HTML5 

Overall, converting a full library of learning materials—even without rebuilding interactive and animated materials—can be costly. Consider, among many factors, that content originally developed for desktop-only may be difficult to resize or convert for mobile. L&D professionals will need to prioritize what they have and what is absolutely required going forward. 

To not blow the entire L&D budget, content rebuild should only be implemented with coursework that is mandatory or offers ROI, including legal, compliance, and other regulatory content. 

While Flash natively has an “export option,” CreateJS, that publishes content for HTML5, much of the custom programming used in the e-learning world is not as instantly portable. It will require tweaking or rewriting from similar ActionScript statements to JavaScript statements, but simple animations are quick and easy. 

Here are some tips for implementing an efficient, cost-effective transition plan: 

  1. Retire old, dated, or unused materials. 
  2. Leverage static documents and non-animation styles wherever possible. 
  3. Convert needed legacy content to PDF files. 
  4. Only rebuild content that must have an interactive/video element.
  5. Consider responsive Web design, which can aid in recreating content layouts for a variety of devices and platforms. 

The Next Generation

With the onset of next-gen technologies, companies are looking toward the future for cutting-edge, engaging ways to train employees. As global employee collaboration and connectivity continue to rise, video has become one of the premier platforms for L&D programs. And thanks to innovations in mobile and new technologies such as AR and virtual reality (VR), video isn’t limited to a conference environment. Employees can learn on-the-go, ensuring their development continues wherever they are located.

Videos, AR, collaborative tools, and more will allow for training and assistance in real time, and provide more valuable real-time information and experiences that were never possible before.

Micah White is director of Research & Development at CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning, and outsourcing services. For more information, visit: www.cgsinc.com and follow CGS on Twitter at @CGSinc and @LearningCGS and on Facebook.


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