Is your eLearning at risk of not working?



There has been an announcement to end a common eLearning player and it is important that you know how this impacts your current and future eLearning courses. The end of this common player may result in your eLearning not working, leading to potential non-compliance, time wasted dealing with technical glitches and even legal implications. Share this blog with the people who look after your eLearning to help them be aware and prepare. Internet browsers, one by one are placing restrictions on the use of this player and will eventually completely ban its use by the end of 2020. The player we are talking about is Adobe Flash Player.

On July 25, 2017, Adobe made the following announcement:


This announcement majorly impacts the lifeline of eLearning courses published to run in Adobe Flash Player.
  
In a nutshell:


1. Adobe announced that they would put an end to Flash Player by the end of 2020. 


2. Web browsers will and have started placing restrictions on the use of Flash Player. 

3.
It’s time to get organised and make sure that your eLearning courses don’t end when Adobe Flash Player does.




Over the last decade, if you built or completed an eLearning course, it is very likely that you published it or viewed it in the Flash Player, (Chuck_Jones_1, 2017) so this could very well be relevant to you.
So, you may be thinking, “How I am going to deal with this?” and “What do I even do?”. Well, have no fear. Adobe has given a lead time long enough for companies to transition from Flash Player to web standards such as HTML5 (Keizer, 2017). 

At Belvista Studios, we want to be as prepared as possible for this change and be able to support our clients with this transition, which we're already started doing.




In this blog, we’ll help you, the person accountable for ensuring this change has little to no impact on your organisation’s operations, prepare. 




We will share an overview describing the farewell to the Adobe Flash Player and the transition to HTML 5 (a newer, supported eLearning delivery technology). So, rather than receiving a phone call from a learner and being told that they can’t access your eLearning module (and the many other phone calls from across the organisation that will follow), you are going to be ready. It’s time to be proactive, be aware of what the change means for you and your organisation and rise to this challenge with confidence.

First things first, it’s time to find out if your eLearning courses require Flash Player.

How do I Know if my eLearning Courses Require Flash Player?

Here are some first steps that you can take, to figure out if your eLearning courses rely on Flash Player.

Option 1: Look at the file extension of each of your eLearning courses. If they require Flash Player their file extension will be .flv or .swf. 

Option 2: Launch the eLearning course in your browser and then right click on the screen. In the box that appears, you will see ‘About Adobe Flash Player’ listed as one of the menu options.
(Chuck_Jones_1, 2017). 

If any or all of your courses require the Flash Player, we suggest continuing to read this blog to broaden your knowledge of the transition and begin to determine a plan.




The Flash Player to HTML5 Transition Explained in Simple Terms

We are going to use an analogy to describe what Flash Player is and why this transition needs to happen, which we hope will provide a more simple rather than ‘techy’ explanation. For those of you who are old enough to remember, we want you to think about the classic VHS player (for you younger ones, this was how we watched movies or home videos back in the day. VHS was much bulkier than our now modern DVD or Netflix accounts).

Let’s say that you had multiple home videos on video tapes suitable for viewing on a VHS player. What happened to those videos when the VHS was replaced by the DVD player? Eventually you could only buy DVD players, making VHS a dying technology that was no longer supported. For many, you needed to get these home videos transitioned to a DVD or as a file on a USB so that you didn’t lose your precious memories recorded on film. The new technology enabled you to view your videos on a format that was supported.

Think of eLearning courses created to play on Flash Player as the VHS home video tapes and the DVD player as the HTML5 format. In order to retain our eLearning courses (the VHS tapes) we need to transition them to the new format (a DVD) in order to keep them alive! The same story played out for the walkman and the mp3 and also if you've updated to a new iPhone or Samsung in the last year where they changed the charger.

Goodbye Flash, Hello HTML5.

Whilst some may be sad to see the end of an era for Adobe Flash Player, it's about time. Over a three-year period, the usage of Flash Player has declined by 80% (Chromium Blog, 2017). The world is migrating to faster, more power efficient and secure technologies (Rodriguez, 2017).

That’s where HTML5 comes in. “HTML5 is faster, safer and more power efficient than Flash and works across desktop and mobile” (Chromium Blog, 2017).






Adobe’s decision to end the Flash Player makes sense and it’s time to get on board. Most newer elearning projects have already made the transition.





Do I Start Now?

You may be thinking, “Do I start now?”.
If you’re responsible for online learning, the answer is ‘yes’. You should at least check to make sure your eLearning doesn’t rely on Flash Player. Our Director, Kim Tuohy, would be more than happy to chat with you about what this means for your organisation and share tips to help you in your role. Email her at: kim@belvistastudios.com. Even if you only have a few courses, it’s important that you put a plan in place in advance. Being proactive means that you will avoid unnecessary stress from the malfunctioning of your eLearning courses and in turn protect your organisation from the impacts of this change.
Whilst Adobe has set the death day for Flash Player for the end of 2020, browsers have already started making changes. Here are their declared end dates for supporting flash:




Browser
End Date
Chrome
end of 2020
Edge
mid to late 2019
Firefox
early 2020
Internet Explorer
mid to late 2019
(Mackie, 2017).

What if the browser you use adds a message saying, “This page requires the Flash player to run. Do you want to continue?”. Would your learners know how to answer that, would it impact their learning experience and can your team handle the enquiries for help (and is this the best use of their time)?




It’s best to be proactive as the person accountable for this and come up with a plan that will enable you to complete the transition prior to Flash Player dropping off the radar.




First Steps – Create a Plan

We suggest listing all of your eLearning courses in an Excel spreadsheet or similar. You can include all relevant details about your courses that will provide you with a big picture of the task at hand. This may include details of:

1.
The name of the course.
2. The course format (and subsequently whether it requires Flash Player).
3. How big the course is (are there 20 screens or 100?).
4. Do you have the source file for each module?

Now that you have this list, you will know which courses require the transition and begin to come up with a plan of how to achieve this.

That’s it for this blog on what the end of Flash Player means for your eLearning courses.

At Belvista Studios, we are committing to understanding the implications of this transition and to support those of you who will face this challenge. We will therefore be releasing a blog series and other posts on this transition. These blogs will provide you with knowledge and practical tips so that you can best prepare for the transition and save your eLearning courses. Our Director, Kim, is available to chat about the implications of this for you and your organisation.

Remember if your eLearning courses break due to not addressing this transition it can lead to potential non-compliance, time wasted dealing with technical glitches and even legal implications. It’s a situation you don’t want to find yourself in.

Whilst this is an extra task on your list, we want you to know that this presents you with a great opportunity. How long has it been since you have updated your eLearning courses? Potentially information and learning outcomes have changed, it could look outdated and it may not incorporate learning strategies that encourage engagement in our day and age. Make your life easier by killing two birds with one stone and make any necessary updates during the transition process. Don’t worry you won’t be alone in this process, we have got your back. Check out the next blog in this series on ‘Have Existing eLearning Modules? The Golden Opportunity to Update Them’.

                                                            References
Adobe Corporate Communications. (2017). Flash & The Future of Interactive Content. Retrieved from https://theblog.adobe.com/adobe-flash-update/.

Chuck_Jones_1. (2017) The Demise of the Flash Player – What do I do now? Retrieved from https://elearning.adobe.com/2017/10/the-demise-of-the-flash-player-what-do-i-do-now/

Chromium Blog. (2017). So Long, and Thanks for All the Flash. Retrieved from https://blog.chromium.org/2017/07/so-long-and-thanks-for-all-flash.html.

Keizer, G. (2017). FAQ: How Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla will Eliminate Adobe Flash. Retrieved from https://www.computerworld.com/article/3211437/web-browsers/faq-how-apple-google-microsoft-and-mozilla-will-eliminate-adobe-flash.html.

Mackie, K. (2017). Adobe and Browser Makers Announce the End of Flash. Retrieved from https://redmondmag.com/articles/2017/07/25/adobe-ending-flash-support.aspx.

Rodriguez, S. (2017). Adobe to Pull Plug on Flash, Ending an Era. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-adobe-systems-flash-idUSKBN1AA22R.

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