This is a great time to use technology. If you could step into a time machine and go back to the distant past of say…. 1995 and show them your iPad, the people you would encounter would wonder to themselves, “Who is this wonderful future man and what marvels is he going to show us?”. Then you fire up the Angry Birds app and blow their collective minds.
Not to age myself but computing 10 or 15 years ago frankly was lacking. You had Apple and PC hardware and software that were incompatible. You had proprietary standards that made buying accessories a nightmare. Before the iPod came along, if you wanted “one thousand songs in your pocket”, you had to get pretty big pockets to carry around the 100 or so CDs for your Sony Discman. It was just a mess.
Since then, web services came into their own and the world realized that the cloud is a great place to get work done. This isn’t simply for day to day office tasks but also for online training as well. However, to get your ticket to the cloud, there a few requirements — and having a space suit isn’t one of them.
The Velvet Rope
To make sure the online training that you deploy to your employees works optimally, there are certain requirements that need to be met for both the courses themselves and the online training software you publish them to that helps track employee progress, registration, certifications, etc.
If the training is being taken on an office workstation or laptop, your web browser will need to be Internet Explorer 8 or higher, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. All of these browsers will give your employees a great experience when taking courses.
In the online training world there has been more and more of a move towards HTML5 as opposed to Flash to render courses. A lot of this has been driven by BYOD (bring your own device) and by web browsers being able to deliver HTML5.
If you already have online courses that were published to Flash format and they will be used exclusively on a laptop or desktop PC, there’s no need to throw them in the garbage. You just need to make sure that they are using Flash 10 or higher. To make it easier, Adobe periodically checks for updates (some may argue overzealously) to make sure that you’re up to date. Provided that your IT manager hasn’t restricted software updates, your employees will be able to update Flash themselves.
Any PC or Mac system made within the last five years should be able to handle online courses easily. There are certainly things that you can do to optimize any system such as adding more RAM and upgrading the processor and video card. It’s unlikely that you will ever need to get this done because if it can browse the web quickly enough then your learning management system (LMS) and courses will run just fine.
On The Move
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has opened up huge opportunities for mobile learning. No longer are staff tethered to a workstation or laptop in order to take their online training. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets do have their own considerations when it comes to delivering training.
The good news is that your Learning Management System (LMS) should work fine on most mobile devices. If the LMS doesn’t have a responsive-design that provides an optimal viewing experience regardless of screen size, employees may need to zoom in to read the text.
Flash doesn’t work on mobile devices period. Yes, there are workarounds but in my experience with both Apple and Android devices these workarounds are much more trouble than they’re worth and the performance is lacking. This means that any courses that have been published to Flash format simply won’t able to be viewed on smartphones or tablets.
If you do have access to the source files to the online course, they may be able to be re-published in HTML5 format if the software that authored the courses is up to date and supports HTML5 export. More and more course authoring tools are offering this feature because of the rise of mobile devices.
Apple or Android smartphones or tablets should be made within the last 3 years in order to display your courses and LMS the best. This usually isn’t a problem as people tend to replace their smartphones when their contract comes up. Tablets having more powerful hardware have a longer life when it comes to usability.
|Web Browser||Internet Explorer 10 or Higher / Safari / Chrome / Firefox|
|Desktop operating system||Mac OS X 10.5 or higher / Windows Vista or higher|
|Hardware||2GB Ram / 2GHz Processor|
|Mobile hardware||iPhone 4 / iPad 2 / Recent Android (Within 2 years)|
|Mobile operating system||iOS 5 / Android 2.3|
With the variety of hardware and software configurations available, you probably wonder how online training works at all. Somehow, through the use of technological wizardry, it all does provided that the software and hardware is relatively up to date. This means that your training will work better, reach a wider and larger group of employees, and deliver a higher ROI.
Technology is only one aspect of why online training can fail. To find out the rest, download our free ebook How To Avoid Elearning Failures.