Tips To Convert Outdated eLearning Content
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How To Convert Outdated eLearning Content Into Highly Engaging Training

Over time, L&D professionals accumulate significant inventories of legacy course materials. But as technology, techniques, and teaching strategies evolve the legacy content becomes outdated. It fails to deliver engaging training or high-impact eLearning experiences. Thankfully, when embarking on an eLearning course refresh cycle, not everything you have in your legacy eLearning content archives may need drastic upgrading. In this article, I share tips, strategies, and ways to make the transition of converting your outdated eLearning content into highly engaging training more effective and efficient.

How Can L&D Professionals Leverage The Mandate Of Converting Legacy/Outdated eLearning Content To Training That Engages Learners And Improves Performance And Behavioral Change?

You can use the opportunity of updating legacy or outdated eLearning content into highly engaging training to help change learner behavior and create the impact the business seeks.

In this transition, you can use the following tips and strategies to help you improve the following 4 aspects:

  1. Enhance learner engagement
  2. Improve learner retention
  3. Facilitate better application of acquired learning
  4. Achieve higher levels of learning transference

1. Enhance Learner Engagement

When it comes to assignments, tests, and assessments, most legacy eLearning content focused on static learning, where “one and done” rules prevailed. Using the same scenario, test case, or case study repeatedly or variants thereof with modern learners creates a recipe for disengagement.

Today, millennials, as well as other profiles of a multi-generational workforce, crave more engaging, relevant, and immersive training. This should sync with their lifestyles and must be available within their workflow. It must be easily accessible and should be packaged to address their learning needs or help them overcome a challenge. The training should fit into their workday, a workday that is fraught with an inordinate number of “distractions” (many of them as a result of multitasking in a highly connected world). These disruptions prevent them from carving out time for learning.

Tips To Enhance Learner Connect And Engagement

  • L&D teams must, therefore, repurpose eLearning content to deliver mobile learning that allows learners to pick it up on the go, between breaks/meetings, and even during their commute. This should include formal learning as well as Just-In-Time learning aids (performance support tools). Mobile learning solutions can also be used to promote social learning as well as self-directed learning.
  • L&D teams can repurpose the current, lengthy text-based or graphic-intensive content into microlearning nuggets, including microlearning videos to stimulate learner engagement. Microlearning nuggets can also be threaded into personalized learning paths to provide more relevant content to each learner profile.

2. Improve Learner Retention

Traditional approaches, whether paper-based or digital, relied heavily on quizzes, essays, and oral/verbal elocution to foster learner retention. And while stand-alone true/false (T/F) questions, multiple-choice (MC) assessments, or fill-in-the-blank tests are still valuable teaching aids, today’s learners are looking for eLearning content beyond these approaches.

Tips To Improve Learner Retention

  • One way to enhance learner retention is to repurpose legacy content into scenario-based learning. For instance, instead of simply porting legacy T/F or MC assessments into online HTML5 (or other newer web-based standards) web pages, consider framing learning objectives as learner-relatable scenarios. Applying T/F or MC quizzes to those scenarios helps deliver a more engaging context that aids learning and retention.
  • Additionally, L&D teams can add micro-challenges (assessments that are designed in microlearning formats) that help them validate their learning. Learners can also use formative feedback to review, practice, and achieve higher retention.

3. Facilitate Higher Application Of Learning

eLearning content refreshes are an ideal opportunity to repurpose existing content for higher learning applications. Instead of using static PPT slides or legacy Flash-based eLearning content to deliver “101-type” learning, L&D professionals could migrate those training assets to the latest techniques. This would enable them to create more engaging training that not only creates sticky learning experiences but also facilitates the application of learning.

Tips To Facilitate The Better Application Of Acquired Learning

  • You can now produce contextual, dynamic (changing) content, deliver interactivity, and create a higher, broader, and more engaging eLearning experience that supports multi-device delivery. This gives learners the control to learn, practice (on the device of their choice), review, and increase the probability of application on the job.
  • You can offer content in a series of microlearning nuggets to offer a learning journey that has a combination of learn, practice, apply, and test. This will enable learners not only to learn but also apply the acquired learning on the job.

4. Achieve Higher Levels Of Learning Transference

The objective of training is to ensure that learning transfers into measurable behavioral changes in the workplace. Unfortunately, while using a passive format legacy (lectures and notes, PowerPoint slides, spreadsheets, Word-based templates), training materials may help “teach” learners a new concept or theory but they do not guarantee that learners will successfully apply what they’ve learned to their work environments.

Tips To Achieve Higher Levels Of Learning Transference

  • The use of branching simulations is a great strategy to enhance decision-making capabilities among learners. You could use existing eLearning content, such as case studies and scenarios, and convert it into interactive decision-making experiences based on past work situations or potential future interactions employees are likely to encounter.
  • L&D professionals should also consider moving to more interactive eLearning content, such as experiential learning approaches. One way to do that is to embrace gamification techniques. L&D teams can leverage existing learning assets (including lecture notes, workbooks, policies, procedure manuals, and study guides) to gamify eLearning courses and deliver training experiences that more closely mimic the workplace. Another approach is using "storytorials" (story-based learning) with real-life characters and situations to drive the message. This approach is a very effective way to bring about behavioral changes and it can be augmented by video-based learning to create a higher impact.

Tips To Draw Up A Successful Action Plan

In this transition, you can maintain learning relevance by applying the 3R’s approach—Recycle, Repurpose, and Reuse—as you convert legacy eLearning content. The advantage of using the 3R’s is that it delivers significant benefits to all stakeholders:

  • Learners become more engaged.
  • L&D professionals save time when creating new learning modules.
  • HCM teams can respond faster to changing training needs.
  • Line managers can ensure that the staff continually has the most updated knowledge they need to function efficiently.

Use the following 3 tips as you draw up the action plan to transform your legacy eLearning content into content that delivers more engaging training to your audience:

  1. Scope and pre-requisites
    • Create a detailed inventory of legacy content.
    • Assess what’s relevant (salvageable) and what to discard.
    • Decide on standards. Before converting legacy eLearning content, decide on standards, such as backgrounds, color schemes, font, pitch, etc. for titles, headings, and subheadings and naming conventions for files, images, screens, assessments, tests, and quizzes.
    • Make technology decisions early on in the process. Your choice of technology may help you maximize the amount of legacy content salvaged and shorten conversion time.
  1.  Value-adds
    • Identify shortcomings and deficiencies in salvageable content (from 2) and quantify what’s required to fill the gaps.
    • Plan the conversion carefully. Consider delivery options, including mobile, responsive design, microlearning, and bandwidth limiters (video, graphic-intensive).
    • Think about design features. Legacy courses might have mouse-click elements that are no longer relevant on mobile devices. Mouse-hover events may still be relevant on laptops and desktops, but not on smartphones.
  1. Validate with the target users
    • Create a wireframe (a blueprint of the upgraded course) and conduct a target user group testing to validate your assumptions.

I hope this article provides the tips and strategies that L&D professionals (with significant inventories of outdated learning materials) can use to quickly and effectively turn that eLearning content into highly engaging eLearning experiences for their learners. The result would be more engaged learners, effective training that creates sticky learning, facilitated application on the job, and higher learning transference. Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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