Amatrol’s eLearning curricula – with its robust content, expansive range of technical topics, stunning animations, interactive quizzes, and more – is the premier source for technical training content in the world. Like many eLearning providers, Amatrol’s eLearning curricula utilized Adobe Flash in its programming. In 2017, Adobe announced that its widely used web plug-in, Flash, would be completely removed from all internet browsers after December 31, 2020, so all Flash-based applications on the internet will cease to function after that date. Amatrol began researching a solution immediately after Adobe’s announcement.
Amatrol began the transition process with a mission to find a replacement for Flash that would enable the content to maintain its interactivity, maintain customer ease of use, provide security, and provide enhancement opportunities. Amatrol then embarked on a four month eLearning platform assessment process taking 10 new platforms and putting them through a rigorous 46-point evaluation with a focus on two main areas: customer experience and content security. While a page-turner presentation would have been a fast and simple conversion, Amatrol decided on WebGL, a custom-developed environment that best met the criteria for security, flexibility, interactivity, and customer experience.
After a platform was selected, more than 18 solid months of programming, updating, and enhancing the content followed, covering over 500 courses comprised of nearly 30,000 individual files. Having finished the programming phase, dozens of evaluators are meticulously quality testing each one before it is uploaded to Amatrol’s Learning Management System (LMS). This plan and pace puts Amatrol’s eLearning curricula on track to have all current versions of the courses converted to WebGL and live online well before December 31, 2020. In fact, Amatrol is already rolling out courses programmed in WebGL to their online library. While the Flash versions are still functional and available at this time, instructors can view and use the new WebGL version.
In addition to actually working on January 1, 2021, when Flash-based online courses will cease to function, WebGL presents several other advantages over Flash and most have to do with improving the user experience. Our programmers are taking advantage of WebGL’s features to enhance Amatrol’s graphical presentation, including several of our virtual training systems, as well as add some new ones, such as PLC and CNC programming.
Existing Customers: “What about computer requirements for WebGL? What if I’m using a previous version of an Amatrol course?”
First, WebGL does call for slightly different computer/browser requirements. WebGL will require 8GB of RAM, a soundcard or onboard sound, a video card or onboard video, a 64-bit browser, and broadband internet access (DSL/Cable/T1) capable of 1 Mbps. WebGL also operates optimally using Windows 10 64-bit operating system. It may function under previous versions and different operating systems, but testing & support has been limited to Windows 10.
Second, prior versions of Amatrol courses will not be transitioned to WebGL and will not be available on the web after December 31, 2020. The current version of all courses will be available in WebGL format. For example, if your course is using an older version of SolidWorks, such as SolidWorks 2018, and the 2019 version is most current, the 2018 version will not be available.
If you are using an older version, you have options. You could move your course to the current version. For example, Amatrol’s Motor Control training system, model 85-MT5, utilizes several components including a multifunction timer that recently had to be updated. This resulted in a new version of the curriculum and skills. If you wish to use the new version of the curriculum with revised skills, you could update your system with a new multifunction timer panel. Alternately, you could switch to the new curriculum and continue using the skill directions that you currently have for your trainer.
As another option, Amatrol will offer multimedia rental for local installation access. While Flash is disappearing from web-based applications, the Flash Player will still work on applications installed on your computer. Amatrol’s multimedia curriculum can be locally-installed allowing customers to continue to use older versions of courses. These will not be able to be delivered over the internet or otherwise broadcast. Your local Amatrol distributor can assist you in transitioning from an online eLearning lease to renting curriculum for local installation when it becomes available later in the summer. If you select the locally-installed option, Amatrol offers Skill Trace for skill tracking and quiz delivery. For any assistance in identifying the best solution for your situation or any other assistance in matters related to this transition, we ask that you contact your Market Services Representative.