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Ask a Trainer: How Do I Extend E-Learning's Shelf Life?

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Tue Oct 08 2019

Ask a Trainer: How Do I Extend E-Learning's Shelf Life?
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Dear Tim,

Our company is starting to put a greater focus on e-learning and less on in-person training. However, we have an issue with our content—it changes on a regular basis, which I’m worried will result in our e-learning quickly becoming out-of-date.

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So, here’s my question: Are there any best practices for content shelf life when it comes to creating e-learning material?


What a great question! This reminds me of a similar situation I had to deal with at a previous job. I had just taken over the management of our company’s e-learning functions, which also included the LMS. One of my first priorities was to inventory our e-learning catalog and determine what was current and what was out-of-date. After spending several weeks painfully sifting through several hundred e-learning courses, I learned that almost 80 percent were severely out-of-date.

Unfortunately, when it comes to e-learning (or any type of content), shelf life is something you’ll have to deal with and manage. Depending upon the complexity of your e-learning content (for example, the graphics, interactivity, and so on), updating an e-learning course can be a chore. Here are three tips that may make this process easier:

First, implement a content review strategy.

When you publish a new e-learning course, establish a regular cadence for when you’ll review (and potentially update) it in the future. This may mean reviewing the course every three or six months and making changes as necessary.

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Second, focus your e-learning on skills rather than content.

You mentioned the frequency at which your content changes. Without knowing more about the topic of your courses, I wonder how much your courses focus on information rather than actual skills. Your content may change on a regular basis, but the skills, behaviors, tasks, and procedures you’re teaching tend to remain consistent for a longer period.

Finally, know when e-learning is not the answer.

It’s common for organizations to think that e-learning is the answer for everything and adopt a strategy for turning all learning content into e-learning courses. While this style offers many benefits, it’s not always the answer. Going back to my second tip, if you’re able to remove some information from your e-learning courses, you can then deliver that information in a format that’s more “fit for function.”

This may mean turning some of that content into on-demand resources, like job aids, articles, or something else that delivers on the same benefits as e-learning, but is easier to maintain.

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I hope these tips help. I’m sure others will offer additional comments below. Best of luck!

Tim


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