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Insights

One Year Closer to the Death of Flash: A Case Study

Thursday, February 21, 2019
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We’re yet another year closer to the official death of Flash, and while Adobe plans on ending their support of it at the end of 2020, there’s no telling when browsers will pull the plug. Have you started converting your old Flash courses to HTML5?

A Storm Is Brewing

While this technological storm is slow-moving and won’t arrive for another two years, there are plenty of people who haven’t even started their preparation. How do we know, you ask? Because we talk to learning managers who have libraries full of old e-learning courses that were either published to Flash or have Flash elements in them, and they’ve done nothing about them.

Let’s be clear—converting courses to HTML5 doesn’t just happen with the click of a button. Whether you’re converting courses using a new version of an authoring tool or recreating courses using new tools, these things take time, and the time you have is slowly dwindling.

A Case Study

For the past year, Artisan E-Learning has been working with one of our clients, Community Associations Institute (CAI), to upgrade their old Articulate Presenter courses to the latest version of that product in order to take advantage of HTML5 publishing. While CAI was initially caught off-guard by the announcement of the death of Flash over a year ago, by fall of 2017, they made the strategic decision to convert all their Flash courses to HTML5. We started our work with CAI to convert their courses in late 2017, and we are collectively aiming to have all the courses converted before 2020.

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While CAI doesn’t have a huge number of online courses (only 10 in total), they consist of close to 40 hours of e-learning content. Six of those courses were Flash-based and required upgrading. We started with their flagship course—the one most popular with their members. When one course has been successfully upgraded, we immediately start on the next.

“It’s a significant project for us, requiring somewhere around 25-30 percent of our learning budget. But, it’s important to us to ensure that our learning products are as high-quality and functioning as possible. We’re willing to do what it takes to make that happen,” said Jake Gold, CAI’s director of Education Development. Jake was clear that the decision to get started so quickly on converting courses to HTML5 was driven not only by their unwavering commitment to giving their members a top-notch learning experience, but also by wanting their learning products to use the most modern technologies available.

CAI is already seeing the changing browser behaviors affect their Flash courses and trying to get ahead of it as best they can. But an additional benefit of addressing each of these courses, Jake noted, has been the ability to make needed updates to the content. The conversion forced them to look at each one of their courses; as a result, they’re updating their content and materials to ensure their e-learning courses provide the most current and relevant information to their learners and members.

The Time Is Now

If you haven’t started planning for the conversion of your old Flash courses, start now. Whether it’s just a handful of courses or a full library, begin your plan of action so you don’t lose those courses and content when the technological storm finally does arrive. If history is any indicator, browsers will shut down Flash long before Adobe officially stops supporting it, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. The following resources can help you evaluate your Flash conversion needs.

About the Author
Tanya Seidel is the vice president of finance and technology at Artisan E-Learning and has more than 10 years of experience in the e-learning industry. In addition to managing Artisan’s finance, technology, and marketing landscapes, she is involved in the development and delivery of e-learning courses for a variety of clients and is well-versed in accessibility (Section 508 and WCAG), responsive design, SCORM, and xAPI. Tanya spent more than seven years working for Trivantis, the makers of Lectora. She has been involved not only in creating instructor-led and web-based training programs and materials, but also in leading the design and development of e-learning authoring software and learning management systems.
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