Wednesday, August 01, 2007

e-Learning Content & Version Control

Earlier this week, Janet Clarey wrote about the "Preservation of e-Learning Content." In response to a lawsuit, Janet had to scrounge to find old training materials and binders. She raised the question about e-Learning content and how well companies keep track of content updates. Can you prove when and how your e-Learning content has changed?

Certainly with the rise of rapid e-Learning tools and the increase in SME-published content we'll start to see an increase in the frequency of updates to e-Learning material.

As an e-Learning vendor, I think it's our responsibility to make sure that our clients have thought this through. But I've never once had a conversation with a client about this subject. This is definitely a gap and I intend to start having this conversation going forward.

After reading Janet's post, I talked with our CTO about some ways that we could build a little bit of "version control" into our Flash Course Development Templates. We've decided to add some simple text descriptors in our admin section that will allow a course creator to identify the content authors, the date originally created, update date, summary text about the course, and notes about the types of changes that were made.

As Janet mentioned, "most companies have digital document control procedures that include e-Learning content." We need to find out what tools our clients use and what systems they have in place.

If they don't do anything, find out why. Maybe it doesn't matter. More likely, if they don't have version control tools, it's because they haven't even thought about it. We'll need to advise those clients on what tools they should be using. At my company, we use SVN for version control (at a basic level I know that it's a tool that allows you to check files in and out and keeps track of versions, etc.).

We'll need to provide our clients with some guidelines for updating content and version control.

I suppose most LMS/LCMS keep track of versions on some levels. (Is that true?) In the Learning Portals that we create for our clients, we need to think about how we can ensure that updates are effectively tracked and recorded and that old versions of courses are properly archived. Again, some of this may be process on the client's end (where and how to archive).

This issue may not matter to some organizations, but imagine an airline company maintenance department that has to report to the FAA. I'm sure it matters to them.

Thanks to Janet for bringing this issue up!


Terri Lakin said...

This is a good point. However, i think with this type of learning becoming increasingly popular it will not be a problem. There are already many companies fighting for the customers to choose their courses. Therefore, i think they will not risk something like not having new content as this will certainly affect who uses their courses.

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Cammy Bean said...


Are you talking about off-the-shelf content? Of course these vendors will want to provide updated content in order to ensure their clients don't have out of date material. And, I would assume, that off-the-shelf vendors have some type of versioning control in place to ensure that customers know which versions were accessed by which people and when.

But we've also got to think about the many companies now building the e-Learning programs themselves using authoring tools (including rapid e-Learning tools). This is part of the space my company inhabits -- my point is that we (the vendors) need to make sure that we're talking to our clients about maintaining version information.

And thanks for sharing the link to your site -- always good to find out about more e-learning bloggers!