3 Ways to Keep Your Virtual Lab Content Fresh—No Matter How Often Software Changes
The rapid rate at which software is changing makes it more difficult for lab developers to keep training content updated. With a little strategy and upfront planning, you can hop off the proverbial hamster wheel—or at least slow it down.
When it comes to training content, few things are as challenging (and tedious) as keeping it up to date—especially considering the rate at which technology changes and the need for continuous skilling. While hands-on tools like training labs help users learn new software quickly, keeping lab content updated can be time-intensive if there isn’t a strategy and process in place. And users attempting to build new skills with outdated training material isn’t going to help anyone.
So how do you keep virtual lab training content current? Here are three ways to keep lab content as fresh as possible.
1. Establish a maintenance schedule
To reduce the amount of disruptions to labs, it’s crucial to regularly run labs from start to finish and note any inconsistencies that need to be addressed. Part of this testing includes determining whether the virtual lab environment or application needs updating, and if additional updates are required. It’s recommended to perform updates first to avoid creating a break/fix situation.
For example, a lab is tested and determined to be working properly, the lab environment is then tested and updated. During this update, a change to permission causes the alb to fail when it is delivered to production, ultimately creating a poor user experience.
By establishing a regular maintenance schedule, not only do you avoid potential issues, but you also identify where, if any, content needs to be updated. The schedule also ensures you’ve got the time and resources set aside in case updates need to be made.
2. Create and utilize a style guide in your training content
The same concepts and formatting rules you’ve set for your business content (i.e., brand guidelines, corporate website and other collateral) should be applied to your training content as well. Not only does this keep your content consistent across platforms but can also help to future-proof your content. For example, excluding slang or referring to currently popular software eliminates the need to update content as phrases go out of style or software becomes out of date.
3. Have well-developed labs
When making updates to your lab or other items within the virtual environment, never improvise. Instead, create a well-developed initial script that addresses the specific items you want to make to your lab or lab environment during the update. The script should include a rough order of events, as well as specific actions or commands that accomplish a specific task. You’ll also want to consider unintended effects of the change like if the act of testing a login could leave a username or password exposed or if breadcrumbs are updated incorrectly.
Once you’ve written the script, conduct a thorough ‘dress rehearsal’ of it. The test should ensure that all content and actions are accurate and working correctly; any updates that need to be made should be done before changes are pushed lives. Once testing and updates are complete, you can feel more confident that on launch-day, your script will be bulletproof, work as expected and included, fresh updated content.
These methods will help make it easier to keep content in your virtual labs current
Keeping lab content fresh ensures learners are trained on the latest versions of software/technology while simultaneously providing a great experience. Establishing a maintenance schedule, creating a style guide and high-quality scripts are all steps to keeping training courses and content fresh.
Want more information on how to enhance the performance of your labs? Check out our article on what are scored labs—a lab type that helps capture, quantify and measure data associated with learners’ skills which enables more in-depth learning and development insights.
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