Best Practices for Refreshing Complex/Global Courses

Jan 24, 2017

We are trying to benchmark best practices for updating complex or large courses, such as Code of Conduct to determine how often to do it and different ways to refresh without developing an entirely new course. We have several leaders who do not believe in repeating the same course, even if just two years in a row. We've dipped into modularity a bit, and we're trying to push that to change a course flow, rather than actually making edits in the course.

Do you have any tips or standards for how often to refresh a complex or global course? Different ways to refresh it without changing the content? Any experience with updating a course like this that also involves several translations?


6 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Hi, Kat: This is a big question.

1. At my company, we don't refresh right away. I'd say every two or three years or so for the basic (code of conduct type) courses. And really, we don't refresh. We take the content and rebuild more modern looking interactions graphics, etc. Often it's just as easy to rebuild than refresh.

2. If you just have time to refesh, I'd look at how the images are formatted and the fonts. Image formatting and fonts du jour can also date, sometimes quickly.

3. In building future course, modularizing does help with updates. Also, avoiding put really specific info (such as dates and numbers) in the voiceover. If you respond, I'll write more on creating courses that are easy to update. I'm really interested in this. 

Bob S

Hi Kat,

Like Daniel, this topic is important to me as well and we have shared similar ideas on the topic in other threads. Here's a few from my side.

1) Agreed, modularity is key for this sort of thing. Great that you are already headed that way so I won't belabor all the benefits.

2) Simple pathing/navigation changes can make a course feel fresher.  Combine free navigation with a "pre test" to challenge your returning learners and you have a winning combination.  Make the pre test hard and consider "test out" options for some sections if stakeholders/regulators can be convinced - if they know it and can prove it, why waste their time right?

3) On a more business-centric level, consider developing a criteria or scorecard for why and when you update courses. When you can show stakeholders a solid methodology for how to prioritize updates, they are more willing to follow your lead.   One method involves taking feedback from SMEs and Learners and scoring each piece of it on a 1-5 scale......  1 = nice to have tweak, and 5 = bad things will happen if we don't update right away.   Then matrix the results and you may find a particular course has mostly 1s and 2s so you put that one off.  While another course has several 4s.... probably want to update that one SOONER than that standard 2 year cycle.  Easier than it sounds and quite effective.

4) Don't forget to integrate extra resources effectively; the last word being key here.  For example instead of having a case study example reprinted in the course itself, have it as a resource they have to review.  Then simply find a new case study to swap in as the resource and the thing has a new feel altogether.

5) Daniel's tip on keeping associated media (narration, video clips, etc) as evergreen as possible is a HUGE one.  These pieces are expensive to update and in some cases may not be possible with the same talent. So use them to explain concepts, not details that change.

Hopefully these ideas help. It's a practical question that so many of us face in our roles, so I'm eager to hear the ideas that the rest of the community may have!

Daniel Brigham

Bob: Great idea about the pre-test. A quick way to do a refresh. 

Kat and Bob: Another tip for creating easy to update courses is to, if possible, place the reference docs outside the Storyline file (e.g., in the LMS or intranet) and then tell learners where they are. That way, when the process docs change, you don't have to make tweaks to the course,  republish, reupload and retest. Placed outside the Storyline file usually makes them easier to access "in the field."




Kat Spaulding

Thanks. These are all great ideas!

We're basically trying to back up what we probably already know, so that we can present the best solution to leadership. This is the first place I've worked (nameless corp) that has expected compliance courses to be refreshed annually, including the big one - Code of Conduct, even if content/policy/regulation hasn't changed. With this particular refresh of Code, we also manage 8+ translations. It's just a monster and the thought of doing this annually is ominous.

Any other "out of the norm refresh" ideas for complex courses are welcome!


Bob S

Ok so two more that may work for your particular situation....

1) Build and A and B version of the course and alternate the one you deploy each year.  Make the two versions look and feel quite different from one another.  This provides a "fresh" opportunity to revisit the topic each year if the senior stakeholders are really just trying to check the box. NOTE:  This is only less work if the content really doesn't change much.... otherwise it's more work so tread lightly.

2) Variant of #1, on alternating years present a super short "what's new" only version of the course.  The key here is to treat your learner's time as valuable and show them only what's different from last time.... and tell them as much to earn their buy in.  You can even link to the full course for the precious few that wish to pursue it as a reference.

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