Thanks to many rapid eLearning tools available on the market, instructional designers are able to save time and resources by reusing learning objects such as eLearning modules, videos, and documents. However, the main problem with Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) is that many training products are customized to address a very specific need, and become outdated relatively quickly.
Developing a library of RLOs means designing content with sustainability in mind. Another term used for this type of content is “evergreen,” meaning that in a month, six months, or even a year, the content will still be relevant and applicable to learners. Evergreen content can eventually save a lot of time by not requiring extensive edits and updates.
Consider the content you may use for training products currently on your shelf – what pieces of information are easy to recycle and require very little maintenance? Here are some examples:
- Stable: compliance laws, harassment awareness training, and broad introductions to teams and organization culture will likely not change and require the least updates from the content perspective.
- Soft-skills training: because the approach to soft skills is not as fluid as technical systems training (which becomes outdated as soon as a new version is published), you may reuse this content for a long period of time.
Also consider information that is not sustainable, and does not lend itself well to reuse. For example,
- Employee names and images: sharing the images of a team risks the need to revise the training quickly, if there is a change in title or structure.
- Descriptions of a technical or specific process: few processes within an organization stay the same for years; new systems, resources, and efficiencies are likely to occur many times in the course of a year, making any training products outdated and confusing.
- Walks through a business system: training and development products for information systems are extremely useful resources, but the relevance of the training should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is up to date with all releases and changes.
Using an arsenal of authoring tools to build sustainable learning objects will save time in the overall development and launch of training products. Being mindful of the content put into each type of training product also makes the ability to reuse objects much simpler.