In 1996, web pages were typically very static, lacking animation and interaction. As a result, eLearning modules designed for the web could be rather boring. Fortunately for internet users everywhere, a company called Macromedia, later purchased by rival Adobe, released Flash 1.0. After Flash came onto the scene the internet became filled with sound, video, animations and easy to create rich-internet applications. The eLearning industry was a major beneficiary of Flash technology and course authoring software took full advantage of this new tool to create more engaging, more satisfying online content.
Flash content definitely changed the internet for the better but over time Flash began to show signs of aging. Unfortunately, Flash performed poorly on mobile devices, had a tendency to drain batteries and gave Hackers easy access. The final nail in the coffin for Flash came in the form of HTML 5, which provided most of the same rich technologies offered through Flash in most mobile devices and desktop browsers, without requiring 3rd party plugins.
On July 25, 2017, Adobe announced that they had decided to retire the Flash product. In accordance with all major internet browsers, it was agreed that Flash would no longer be available on any standard platform by the end of 2020. As part of a planned phase-out of Flash technology, most browsers will stop providing default support for Flash in 2020. Certain browsers will discontinue Flash support near the end of 2019.
What does this Mean for Your Organization?
If you use elearning content which features Flash animations, video or interactive activities, it would be strongly encouraged to verify that your existing content will still operate properly when your Learner’s specific browser no longer supports Adobe Flash.
The following YouTube video demonstrates the current behavior of Flash when using a Chrome browser. The video also demonstrates how easy it is to disable Flash within Chrome. Once Flash has been disabled, it will become very obvious if certain online courses no longer function properly. Video: How to Disable Flash in Chrome
Potential Bad News: If you maintain any eLearning Elements which use .flv or .swf files, these will cease to function properly.
The Good News: If Flash is part of a given SCORM and you have the original project files, most authoring tools make it easy to republish these files as HTML instead of Flash or Flash/HTML.
The Best News: Since Flash content has not been available on IOS since 2010 or Android since 2012, if you have mobile users, there's a very good chance that you're no longer using Flash content within your LMS.
How can Courses be Converted from One Format to Another?
Many authoring tools offer the easy choice of publishing SCORM content as HTML, HTML/Flash or Flash. Depending on a specific authoring tool, the process can frequently be as simple as opening the original project file and then republishing as an HTML course. Any SCORM content lacking original project files may need to be rebuilt from scratch.
Please Note: Once Flash is gone, certain content might still work properly if published as HTML/Flash. We strongly encourage testing to ensure your content still operates as it should. In our experience, Accord Support has come across certain instances where SCORM content published as HTML/Flash will fail, as the file is choosing to run as Flash despite launching in a non-Flash environment.
Example Publication Settings- Articulate 360 Authoring tool
You may come across certain examples where some features of a given course will no longer function without Flash. Should you run into any challenges when attempting to convert from one publishing format to another, consider checking with the supplier of your specific eLearning authoring tool.
Updating the LMS
Updating any Learning Elements, to include SCORM modules, is a very straightforward process within the Accord LMS. While in the Learning Element Catalog, simply edit the LE Details of a chosen Learning Element and then re-upload the new, properly formatted file. All attempt records, completion records and quiz scores will be retained. Please know that when performing such updates, SCORM bookmarking is lost. Whenever necessary, ask Learners to finish any in-progress courses prior to update.
The Accord Team Wants to Help
Over the next few weeks Accord Support will be on the lookout for .swf and .flv files for all of our Hosted SaaS LMS sites. Please know that we are unable to detect Flash content for any Self-Hosted client sites. Should we find any evidence of Flash files, we will keep you duly informed in order to ensure that your particular organization is as prepared as possible for the upcoming changes concerning the elimination of Flash technology.
Flash revolutionized our internet experience and provided a platform which elevated the quality of eLearning content for decades. It had a very good run but it is now time to start removing any remaining Flash content from your system. If we can be of any assistance before Adobe Flash ends, please contact Accord LMS Support.