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Improve learning content despite its unique challenges

Whether you’re in education, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, or otherwise, you work in a learning organization. It’s critical to ensure that your employees and customers understand how to do their jobs. If your products affect health and safety — medical devices, industrial equipment, and so many more — you need effective learning content to prevent injuries or even death. Providing training through a variety of learning options leads to success.

The scope of learning content is massive, including (but definitely not limited to): 

  • Instructor-led classes 
  • Self-paced training
  • Written training
  • Textbooks
  • Online learning 
  • Learning assessments

Though these content types have a lot of overlapping information, many authoring tools force you to write everything separately.

You can imagine what happens next — and you’re not the only one!

We’ve seen a growing number of companies recognize their need for efficiently managed content processes.

How optimized content operations improve learning content  

In our podcast, Bill Swallow defines content operations like this: “Down to its essence, content operations is the way that you approach writing, editing, distributing, and publishing your content. It’s the ‘how’ of what you’re doing, and it encompasses the entire spectrum of working with content.

“Down to its essence, content operations is the way that you approach writing, editing, distributing, publishing your content. It’s the how of what you’re doing, and it encompasses the entire spectrum of working with content.

— Bill Swallow

Any organization that produces any form of content — so… every organization — has content operations. However, those operations have to be strategically structured to position your business for success.  

Without efficient content operations, it takes a lot of effort to keep learning and training content updated. Departments often use incompatible authoring tools, content is manually copied and pasted, and communication is inconsistent. When content is inevitably re-(re-re-)revised, the cycle repeats. 

This process is laborious, expensive, and an obstacle to your organization’s success. 

Optimized content operations improve learning content through:

  1. Increased accuracy
  2. Reduced production time
  3. Minimized rework costs 
  4. Consistent formatting
  5. Efficient publishing

Unique challenges of learning and training content

The benefits of optimized content operations apply to every type of content your organization creates, not just learning and training content. (Hence the bold in Bill’s quote above. We really like that part.)

However, there are a few areas where learning and training content generates unique operational challenges. 


Affectionately named the “black hole” for content by Sarah O’Keefe, PowerPoint introduces major obstacles when you try to improve learning content

It’s easy to add content and design pleasant-looking slides, but with limited output options, content is almost impossible to reuse. Additionally, slides are very difficult to move around between PowerPoint projects. 

Despite PowerPoint’s popularity as a standard training tool, it’s difficult to build a truly effective slide deck. Critical content that has been painstakingly prepared is often overlooked in a PowerPoint presentation. 

SCORM and LMS issues

Sharable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM is a standardized method for exchanging content between training platforms, including Learning Management Systems (LMSs). However, most LMSs only accept their particular “flavor” of SCORM, so you won’t just be able to make a SCORM package and call it a day. 

Complexity of learning content versus “regular” topics

Technical content is meant to be consumed “as authored,” so your audience only needs to read, watch, listen, or otherwise interact to absorb the information, and e-learning content is similar. 

However, learning content for classroom training is different. Instead of ready-to-read content, it’s a framework that has to be filled with unique contributions from the instructor. Every classroom is unique due to the dynamics of the instructor and classroom participants, and a good trainer will need the flexibility to make adjustments on the fly to ensure trainees get what they need. 

Additionally, learning content for the classroom needs to include the full scope of contextual information. In a physical classroom, that includes information like the location of the restrooms and the emergency exits, break plans, and the physical layout the instructor is required to set up in advance. For e-learning, this includes system requirements for devices, time zones, and more. 

Course assessments

To generate effective assessments, instructors must have a framework that provides flexibility so they can assess if a particular set of trainees have learned what they needed to learn. Trainers need the ability to create different kinds of questions and code in feedback for wrong answers. Additionally, assessments have to be published in a variety of formats, including written and printed tests, elearning sessions, and so on. 

“So, how do I optimize content operations?”

This process usually begins when someone on your team identifies a big problem that isn’t being solved with immediate fixes. These are the pain points we see the most:

  • Reducing copious amounts of redundant content caused by incompatible toolsets
  • Aligning content for 2+ organizations after a merger or acquisition
  • Transitioning to a new tool set to consolidate content creation
  • Delaying program launches or new initiatives due to lengthy training content production

To improve learning content effectively, your content operations need streamlined development processes, best-fit tools, specific workflows for each stage of content development and delivery, and solid training for your team. 

Find a consultant

Optimizing your content operations is a huge undertaking, so we recommend reaching out to a team of experts *cough* who can walk you through the process. Of course, we’d love to be your choice, but there are many consultants who can help. No matter who you choose, make sure you have an experienced guide on your side. 

“Consultants help people imagine things they didn’t know — you can’t know what you don’t know. They help you achieve greater success faster.”

— Carrie Hane, Lightbulb moments from ConVEx

The Scriptorium approach 

We have four principles outlining how we optimize content operations: 

  1. Semantic content is the foundation. Create tags, metadata, sequencing, and hierarchy.
  2. Friction is expensive. Use content and translation management systems and automated rendering engines.
  3. Emphasize availability. Focus on content access, and provide a variety of delivery options.
  4. Plan for change. Prioritize flexibility, and establish performance metrics.

If you’re looking for more, we dive into the details in the Scriptorium Content Ops Manifesto

Ready to improve learning content through optimized content operations? Contact our team of experts today.

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