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Converting Flash elearning – 5 steps to get started

Yet to convert your Flash elearning content? With December 2020 looming you’ll need expert advice and a plan in place – now. We’ve helped all sorts of customers migrate legacy Flash content to HTML5. Every project was different – but five key questions have been common to finding the best solution for each. Here’s how to get the ball rolling.

It’s hardly news that at the end of 2020 Adobe will cease support of its Flash Player.

The technology’s poor security (an entry point for annoying ads, malware and data breaches), its incompatibility with Apple mobile devices and the arrival of HTML5 all contributed to its fall from grace, and use.

It was back in 2017 that Adobe announced they would stop supporting Flash in 2020 – and warned businesses to migrate their Flash content.

As online courses tend to have a longer shelf life than websites, there’s still plenty of elearning out there that relies on Flash. But come January 2021 there’s no guarantee those courses will run.

Most websites stopped using Flash long ago. Many elearning production houses stopped making new content with Flash some time ago too: Can Studios moved away from working in Flash back in 2015.

But as online courses tend to have a longer shelf life than websites, there’s still plenty of elearning out there that relies on Flash. But come January 2021 there’s no guarantee those courses will run.

So if you still use elearning that uses Flash there really is no time to waste – you need a firm plan to convert your Flash-Based elearning, now. And we can help you put that in place – it begins with the five steps we outline below.


Want to get started with converting your Flash-based elearning right now?

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What if not flash?

This is the simple bit. The best and only sensible technology to choose for your elearning is HTML5 – which just about all modern websites use. By migrating your Flash elearning to HTML5 you’ll get online courses that:

  • can be used in any browser – no need to install special ‘players’ or extensions
  • work responsively on phones, tablets and desktops
  • are compatible with all standard operating systems – including iOS (Apple)
  • run at high speed.

How do we convert Flash content?

Ultimately there are two parts to the process:

  • Get the old content out of the Flash-based package.
  • Rebuild it – using HTML – into a package that communicates with a learning management system (LMS).

Sadly there’s no magic wand – beware of anyone who offers you a ‘click-to-migrate’ or ‘automatic conversion’.

There are any number of ways those two steps can be achieved. But sadly there’s no magic wand – beware of anyone who offers you a ‘click-to-migrate’ or ‘automatic conversion’.

What will be most efficient varies from case to case. It’s where the breadth of skills that we have in house comes into its own. Our software developers, media designers and learning designers collaborate every day to solve technical puzzles like these.

For example – if a customer has lots of content with a similar format, we can build a custom ‘extraction engine’ – a process to automate harvesting of the key files from their legacy content, ready for rebuilding.

We’ve helped clients of all types and sizes convert Flash elearning into HTML5 over the past few years. Each of these projects has been different. But there are five key questions that have guided finding a solution for each of them that worked for their business, their budget and their learners.

Our software developers, media designers and learning designers collaborate every day to solve technical puzzles like these.

1. What’s the scale and nature of the task?

A thorough answer to this question will make all the subsequent decisions easier, and get you the best possible price.

You’ll need to do an initial audit of your content to establish:

  • Number of courses and approximate hours of content, for example – 20 courses: 15 x 20-30mins; 5 x 45-60mins.
  • Formats and types of interactivity used in the courses – this might vary across the set. For example you might have some that is mostly static images and text, and others that involves extensive animation.
  • Whether original source files for any graphics and animations are available, or whether these will need to be extracted.

We can help you go about this assessment efficiently. Just share a few samples with us, that show the variety across your collection, and we’ll advise you on how to categorise them, what to look out for and rules of thumb to speed things along. Or you can even outsource this work to us, if you need to.

2. What’s most urgent, and important?

If time is against you it’s vital to be guided by experts with the right skills to make sure you tackle this efficiently and cost-effectively.

As well as an idea of the scale of the task, we’ll need to know when specific courses are needed by and which content is most business critical. This, combined with the budget you have available, will be key in deciding how to proceed.

At this late stage you might need to admit having everything converted by 31 December 2020 isn’t possible, and prioritise accordingly – particularly if you have a lot of content and a small budget.

Our developers and designers are all ed-tech specialists, and we’ve been producing elearning for more than 20 years.

That means we know every trick in the book to schedule production efficiently, and we have the right people to draw on exactly when we need them.

3. Is Flash the only problem?

If there are more changes than you can action right now – don’t panic! We can help you have your cake and eat it by setting you up to make future updates for yourself.

If your content is old enough to have been built using Flash, it may well have aged in other ways. While you’re making technology updates, make sure your other key stakeholders also cast their eyes over your content – and speak now!

Trust us, nothing impacts on delivery timelines and budgets like trying to accommodate last minute changes on the fly.

You might want to check especially for:

Out of date facts or examples

Changes to legislation, equipment, and core challenges in your field obviously need to be reflected in your elearning. Remember to look for details that date your content in both the words and the graphics/media used.

Accessibility requirements

From September 2020 it is a legal requirement that all public sector funded websites (which includes learning management systems and their elearning content) are accessible inline with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) V2.1 Levels A or AA. So if you receive public sector funding, or bid for public sector contracts, you’ll need to make sure your content complies. Find out more about the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Diversity and representation

Like society in general, learners are more aware than ever of off-key stereotypes, assumptions and bias. If the race, age, gender, sexuality and cultural mix of the characters and scenarios depicted in your courses is from a bygone time, you risk being remembered for the wrong reasons.

Brand, culture and visual style

Every one of your learners is a potential advocate – but to harness that power your elearning needs to clearly communicate the right brand and culture. That means having messaging and visual style that are consistent within your learning materials, and with other key channels.

4. Outsource all stages of the conversion work, or do some yourself?

Consider whether you want to make future updates, or new courses, for yourself. It’s especially useful if you need to make frequent changes to factual content or branding, for example.

Depending on your answers to the first three questions, it could be that the best option is to do some or all of the work to re-build your Flash elearning in-house.

We can work with you to assess whether any parts of the process can be completed by your team, and how.

Even if you want to outsource all of the initial work, converting from Flash is a good opportunity to consider whether you’ll want to make future updates for yourself.

If this is the way you want to go, the process and tools used for migrating your content from Flash to HTML5 should be geared to helping you be more self-sufficient in future.

We provide tools and training for making high-quality elearning to a range of customers: from elearning companies who sell their courseware around the world to not-for-profits and small businesses. We’ve no vested interest in doing work for you unnecessarily – we’re happy to help you to help yourself.

5. Which course authoring tool should we use?

Even if you’re outsourcing the conversion work, you should still be concerned with which authoring tool is used – it’s key to how, where, with whom and for how long you’ll be able to keep using that content.

Your new, Flash-free courses could be built with a number of different authoring tools. (By authoring tool we mean the software used to combine the various media assets into a file that works with a learning management system).

Our authoring tool of choice is Adapt because it produces courses that:

  • give a contemporary and fluid learner experience built around flexible, deep scrolling pages (rather than clunky ‘slides’)
  • provide the best accessibility options for disabled learners
  • work seamlessly over desktop and mobile devices – no need for multiple course files or reformatting content for different devices
  • run in any web browser
  • are SCORM 1.2 compliant so they can be deployed on the widest range of learning management systems.

Adapt future-proofs your content and keeps your options open when it comes to updating it later. It’s an open-source technology developed collaboratively by some of the elearning industry’s biggest names – and used widely by organisations of all types and sizes. So you’ll have no trouble finding suppliers who can work with your content.

You can also update Adapt courses yourself with the Adapt authoring tool – either installing the open-source version for free or use a hosted and supported Adapt authoring service with us or another supplier.


Ready to take the next step and fix your Flash elearning content?

Our friendly team is waiting to help you.

Get in touch.