Best practices for creating content designed to be reused

I am looking for input from forum participants on best practices for creating content or repurposing existing content to carry past the publication to an LMS and allow the content to be EASILY reused in the future in different formats.

 Short workflow synopsis:

  1. Receive content/outline in PowerPoint
  2. Work in Articulate Presenter for rapid development

  3. Publish content to corporate LMS

If this were the entire intended lifecycle of the content, I would probably develop in Storyline and take advantage of the additional capabilities, but this workflow is only the beginning.  After publishing to our corporate LMS, I start to receive requests for the content (a good problem to have!) 

  1. “I want to show this new product to a distributor as a lunch-and-learn.  Can you send me the PowerPoint?”
  2. “This is great information.  We should put this on our YouTube channel!”

  3. “My distributor has their own LMS.  Can you take out all of the internal/proprietary information and send them a zip file to load to their LMS?”

  4. “It would be great if I could download a movie of this onto my device to show customers on the fly”

Let me give you some background:  I am not a "trained" eLearning Developer.  I am a subject matter expert within my industry that has a passion for communicating ideas and new products to purchasing influencers and users of the products.  I am not involved in traditional organizational development and I do not create content on soft-skills, nor content for legal compliance, rather content that includes scientific/technical data and artistic/design elements.  I work in an industry in which technology is rapidly evolving, and which users of the products need to understand how our solutions may help them comply with ever-changing governmental regulations.

I draw content from a large group of product experts - individuals that include mechanical/electrical engineers and MBAs that drive product development and launch; I have access to a team of internal marketing specialists that work on print collateral and marketing blitzes for new product launches, tradeshows, PR, etc. and that are great at providing product and application photography, advertising copy, color schemes, branding, etc…..  

New product are generally introduced to our sales teams via webinar.  The webinar is based upon a PowerPoint developed by the product development team.  RESULT:  a text-laden PowerPoint with no speaker's notes or script, few graphics and even less information on "why should I buy this product?"

My job, like many of you reading this discussion forum, is to take that rather bland, "widget-oriented" content and create a story.  The story will need to be tweaked for different audiences, but my approach has always been the same:  create a "Master Presentation" that includes all of the content.  (It's easier to remove content that is not appropriate for a particular audience than to try to add in content at a later date.)

With this methodology, I will include all of the details:  product pricing (internal, sales agent, distributor, end user), technical details (for the engineering crowd), design application details (for the architects and interior designers that use our products), promotional details (limited time SPIFS for distributors).  Everything that anyone might need to know goes into the Master PowerPoint.

Audience and output:

  1. Our corporate hosted LMS with the complete dataset for our internal sellers.  Content includes a quiz and learning is tracked.

  2. Content is edited for appropriate audience content and distributed for use in other LMS’ belonging to our distributor partners, buying coalitions, industry professionals’ continuing education programs, etc.  I generally publish 3-4 versions of SCORM/TinCan content for use on LMS’ for various business partners.

  3. A narrated PowerPoint for our sales staff to use (Narrations and animations timed through PowerPoint Record Slide Show) that can be run with or without timings in PowerPoint.  This allows the sales person to personalize slides (i.e. Title slide), remove items not intended for their audience, add/remove slides for time, and rehearse/review the presentation, complete with the script in the speaker’s notes.  This learning is instructor-led and is not formally tracked.

  4. #3 is then exported to a video for easy download from, upload to YouTube, looped on a computer at a sales counter, etc….

When a detail changes, as it often does in my industry, I correct the information on the Master PowerPoint presentation, republish in the applicable formats and distribute.  This provides for continuity of messaging since I only need to update the details in the main PowerPoint.  Obviously, this will not correct static copies that have already been downloaded (i.e. mp4 on someone’s iPad), but helps with version control.

I created 35 modules in 3 months to train our sales staff on new and upcoming products and technology prior to our biggest tradeshow of the year.  Most of the modules run 15 – 20 minutes + quiz time on the LMS.  The content proved incredibly useful in preparing the booth staff and the show was a huge success.

As I prepare to live up to the new expectations created by releasing 35 new modules in 3 months, what are others doing to make sure that the rapid development content you create can:

  1. Live on after the initial launch (without someone “making” users consume the content in an LMS)

  2. Be versatile enough during creation to allow placement on different platforms in different formats

  3. Provide for easy updating of content in a single location that can then be republished and re-pushed to the various sites and audiences.

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