The Single Source for Single Sourcing

You and your development team have created the perfect content for the instructor-led training class, or perhaps a stunning eLearning course, only to find out you need to make it available on a mobile app. What now? Is the content built in such a way that it can be easily converted to another delivery method? If not, your organization is missing a huge opportunity to save time and money.

Consumers are demanding that they be able to access content from whatever devices they use, whether those devices are smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or all of the above. According to Forrester Research, about 74 percent of knowledge workers use two or more devices for work and 52 percent use three or more.

From a business perspective, this means it has never been more critical or strategically important to be able to deliver your learning content to any device, venue, or application, including at the learner’s moment of need.

You might be thinking, who has the time, money, or energy to do that? It is a common misconception in the learning space to think that this kind of tailored delivery is a difficult, complex, expensive matter, but there is actually a simple solution.

Single sourcing is a term you need to familiarize yourself with, and pronto!

What single-source development means

So what exactly is single-source content? In short, single-source learning development is about three things. One, creating content as smaller modules instead of large, monolithic courses; two, separating the individual content pieces from the overall presentation; and three, maintaining a collaborative development-team environment.

Typically, developers expect that they must be able to deliver courses in many different ways, including instructor led, virtual classroom, self-paced eLearning, and in multiple formats as blended learning. This means that the same material must be available across all of these formats. When developers organize content correctly, it can appear in multiple deliverables simultaneously, or the learning delivery system can sort it and farm it out in formats best suited for each learner’s needs.

The beauty of this method is that developers create content one time at the individual topic level, with the ability for constant reuse.

The benefits of single-source

By its very definition, single-source means that organizations save tremendous time and resources associated with having to create the same content multiple times for different outputs.

This results in some key business benefits:

–Future-proofed content. A single-source content strategy is the only way to be prepared for any future technologies. If content is in open format such as XML, the content will not need to be recreated when a new platform emerges. Instead, organizations simply add a new output format to their existing repertoire of learning products and republish existing content to that new format.

Just think: five years ago, no one was thinking about having content available on tablets.

–Shortened time-to-market. In today’s hyper-competitive market, being late to the game with customized learning products that can be delivered to any desired situation (classroom, mobile, desktop, job site, etc.) can have a significant negative impact on revenue and customer satisfaction.

To illustrate, a publishing company that uses a globally dispersed group of SMEs to create their training materials previously needed 18 months to create and deliver a new course. By adopting a collaborative and non-linear single-source development process, they can create a whole new course in five months.

–Decreased redundancy. According to the Chapman Alliance, 30 percent of the cost of eLearning is currently attributed to redundant content development processes, including authoring, QA, and SME/stakeholder review. When you add mobile to the mix, this level of redundancy simply doesn’t scale well now that organizations need to support many different platforms.

According to one training organization, “Every time we needed to create a new, derivative version of a course, we simply made a copy and changed it for the new instance. Now we have dozens of versions of the same course, and none of them are linked.”

Single sourcing creates an environment where you can make content changes instantaneously, across all learning delivery formats, to eliminate this unnecessary redundancy.

In summary, single sourcing is an option to help achieve consistency in your content for branding, and between instructional and performance support applications. Don’t forget that because content is in smaller modules, it can be re-used more easily than ever before.

Reprinted from Learning Solutions Magazine

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