Content Development

3 Reasons why you should Test your Content with Firmwater LMS

Posted November 27, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

Do you test your content continually as you build your course? Did you know you can use your Firmwater demo site to replicate your end user’s experience? If you already use it, then kudos to you! If not, it’s worthwhile to read up about why testing your content is helpful in the long run. To get you started, here are three reasons why we think it helps:

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  1. Test to understand your learners’ experience. By interacting with the course content from a learner’s point of view, you ensure that your content looks good and is being delivered the right way. This puts everything in perspective for you and helps you in the long run if ever you need to assist your learners with support requests.
  2. Test to understand your content behaviour. Much of the learners’ experience depends on the way your content was authored. Regardless of the tool you use, you should aim to test your content as you’re building it to avoid any content-related problems in the future. Test to check if it is behaving the way you’ve published it to behave. Are quiz scores being recorded and displayed properly? Is the navigation clear and easy? Is the course status correct? Are there any audio, video or animation issues?
  3. Test to understand the LMS and better navigate its features. A big part of content delivery to your learners is course assembly in the LMS. If your course is made up of several components and you used LMS features such as prerequisites, it would be wise to double-check if the content behaviour is consistent with the enabled features. It would also be helpful to run reports and ensure that necessary data is being saved (e.g. running an interaction data report to see if quiz results are being recorded).

Testing content can seem to be time-consuming at first, but its value will help you determine best authoring practices and lower the number of support requests from your end users. We hope that after reading this article you get in the habit of actively testing your content. Remember that we are always there to support you during this process.

Note: If you’ve never used your demo site before, please contact us and we’ll help you set up your account.

 

6 things to keep in mind when publishing eLearning content

Posted November 13, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

Our customers often come to us with issues that arise when users engage with their learning content. Maybe a video animation isn’t working as expected or they’re not sure why they can’t see a student’s quiz responses in the LMS report. Whatever the issue, we find that it is usually related to how the content was published and which tool was used to author it.

To help you avoid similar problems in the future, we decided to share some tips about what to keep in mind when you’re publishing your eLearning content. This should be helpful regardless of the authoring tool you’re using.

Publish for SCORM 2004

In order to get the most out of our LMS reporting and tracking capabilities, make sure you select to publish for SCORM 2004, 3rd edition. This option is found in the publish settings of the tool you’re using. There are several differences between SCORM 2004 and SCORM 1.2. The most important one is that SCORM 2004 allows you to track and report on student status and quiz data more efficiently.

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Opt for HTML5-based Content

Make sure you’re selecting an HTML5 output option when you publish. All major browsers have completely phased out the Flash Player plugin by default and are instead opting for mobile-friendly HTML5. In fact, Adobe plans to stop distributing Flash Player by 2020. Using primarily flash-based content will risk your learners having to download additional plugins and make it a less pleasurable learning experience. Switching from Flash to HTML5 will allow your users to access their online learning from any mobile device.

Pay Close Attention to Data Reporting and Tracking

Always aim to identify the reporting and tracking options available for you in the tool and how they will translate into the LMS.

Reporting: Let’s say you want to track the learners quiz result. You would need to include a results slide and make sure that the results are being properly submitted to the LMS. Think about how you want the learner’s status to be reported. Do you want them to see that they’ve passed the course or simply completed it? Keep in mind that SCORM 2004 submits two statuses: success and completion.

Tracking: If you want to allow learners to exit your course and resume where they left off, make sure that’s also indicated within the settings. Always refer to your authoring tool guide to make sure you are publishing properly.

Regularly Check Version Updates

Keep the version of the tool you’re using to publish your content up to date. Version updates usually have bug fixes that will avoid future issues with your content. Check if the authoring tool version is compatible with major browser versions - if not, find out which one it works best with. Regularly check for updates to your authoring tool software and check the system requirements (usually found on the tool’s website). Add information about system requirements to the course description in the LMS to let students know about it prior to launching the content.

Be Mindful of Browsers

Identify the types of browsers your learners are using (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, etc…) Is there a specific browser you’ve noticed causing issues more frequently? Is the flash player enabled for flash-based courses? Perhaps the browser needs an update or the published content is simply not compatible with this browser. Again, checking system requirements for your authoring tool is helpful. You can find out the browsers your learners use by running a Login History report in the LMS.

Test Your Content

Test your content again and again until it behaves how it should behave. We make this task easy for you by giving you access to our demo site. This site is great for testing your content before it is made available to your learners on your live site. Load and launch your content there first to make sure it works as intended.

When testing your content, ask the following questions:

  • Is the content behaving as it should be? (e.g. animations, interactions etc.)
  • Is the audio playing? Is it clear enough?
  • Is the video playing seamlessly?
  • Are the buttons and triggers working as expected? (e.g. next, submit, exit)
  • Is the status being properly reported? i.e. is it displaying “completed” or “passed/failed” when it needs to?
  • If applicable, is interaction data being saved? To verify that, run an interaction data report in the LMS.
  • Are there any errors when launching, exiting, or navigating the content?

If you’re in the process of publishing or updating your eLearning, make sure you get in touch with us for more eLearning tips and best practices.

 

The Shift from Flash to HTML5

Posted June 16, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

As you publish your online content, it is important to remember not only who your audience is but where they will access it from. Nowadays, your end users are accessing their learning via laptops, desktops, mobile phones as well as tablets. According to KPCB, “between 2010 and 2015, daily mobile internet usage has grown from 0.4 hours to 2.8 hours”. That means that learners are seven times more likely to access their learning from their cell phone or tablet. Users access their online learning several times throughout the day using different platforms. That’s why you need to make sure that any content you publish can play seamlessly on all these different devices. As online technology evolves, it may be difficult to keep up to date with the changes taking place. A recent change is important to note here was when major companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft phased out Adobe’s Flash Player from their web browsers and opted for the open and mobile-friendly HTML5.

…So why is this shift relevant for us in the eLearning world?

The shift from flash to HTML5 in web browsers means there needs to be a similar shift from flash-based content to content published to support HTML5. Earlier on, when Adobe’s flash content dominated the e-learning content world, there were very few people who chose to access their online training through their tablets or phones. Nowadays, most learners prefer to “carry” their learning with them wherever they go. Flash’s poor mobile device performance made it weak in comparison to HTML5’s open web standards and mobility.

With that being said, now is the time to ensure that your content is mobile-friendly. Re-publishing your courses for HTML5 will save you the trouble of handling issues that can arise from users not getting the experience they need when trying to access their learning remotely. The good news is that most major authoring tools like Storyline, Captivate, and Lectora support HTML5 publishing. The latest version of Articulate’s Storyline provides users with a choice between 4 different formats: HTML5 only, HTML5 with Flash fallback, Flash with HTML5 fallback and Flash only.

We know what you’re thinking, such tasks can be quite daunting, but if you need assistance or require more info about this process, reach out to us now, we’d be happy to help you.

Streamline Your SCORM Content using Storyline 2

Posted April 19, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

Welcome to our first post in this series! This post will guide you through the step-by-step process to streamline publish your content using Articulate Storyline 2 and get the most insight on your learner’s experience.

Who will benefit from this article?

Scenario A: you’re in the process of assessing authoring tools and started a free trial to see if Storyline meets your needs.

Scenario B: you’ve already purchased a license for Articulate Storyline, you need to figure out how you can publish content successfully.

Scenario C: you’re now in charge of authoring/updating/maintaining training courses for your company using Storyline, but have no solid experience with the tool.

Scenario D: you’ve used authoring tools before, maybe even this one, but need a refresher or simply more Firmwater-specific instructions.

If you relate with any of the above-mentioned scenarios, then this guide is for you.

Here are the steps you can take to ensure it runs smoothly and communicates all the right things to the Firmwater LMS…

Configuring the settings to publish for an LMS

  1. Once you’ve finished authoring your course, go to the Home tab and click Publish. A Publish window should pop up on your screen. Here’s where you can make all the necessary configurations.

  2. On your left-hand side, you’ll see a tab that says LMS, click on it as that is what you are going to publish for.

  3. Give your course a relevant Title and Description that you would like your users to see when logged into their LMS portal. A description can be very helpful in providing your learners with a brief overview of what the course is about and what its structure will be.

  4. In the Folder field, ensure that you are using the correct location you would like to store your package file in.

  5. Next, you will find the option to publish for HTML5 and Mobile devices. If you expect your learners to launch your course from devices beside their PC or laptop, you should check “Include HTML5 output”.

    Note: Browsers are starting to drop default support for Flash, so it’s always best to enable HTML5 output.

  6. We normally recommend that you leave the settings Properties as default, however, if you want to change the quality of the video or images in your course, you can do so here.

  7. Now, let’s move on to Output Options.This part is essential when publishing as this is where you’ll be able to track as well as view reports on your learner’s progress. Here, you’ll need to select SCORM 2004 from the drop-down menu.

    Next, click on Reporting and Tracking to further edit how the Firmwater LMS and your content will communicate.

    Reporting:

    Again, ensure that SCORM 2004 is selected from the drop-down menu to the right of LMS. Your title and description can correspond to that of your main menu title and description. Giving your learners more information or tips about the course is always helpful.

    The Identifier is a unique combination of characters to help the LMS recognize your content. Whenever you re-publish or want to update a course in the LMS, ensure that this Identifier code remains the same. This will allow the LMS to determine that you’re updating the content and not loading in new content.

    Now, we move on to LMS Reporting. The LMS tracks both a completion status and a success status. You will find that you may choose from four different options. We recommend that you select either Passed/Incomplete or Passed/Failed for optimal results.

    Tracking:

    For proper tracking to take place, you need to ensure this section is properly configured. You have two options: either track your learners progress based on how many slides they view, or track them based on their quiz results.

    For Track using quiz result to be an available option, you will need have at least one quiz slide, or if you have multiple, a quiz result slide that determines the total score of quiz questions throughout the course should be created.

  8. You’re now ready to publish your content for the LMS. To do that, Click the Publish button and wait for the Publish Successful dialog box to appear. Under View Project, you’ll see the option to create a ZIP file for your course. Click on it. Now you have your course package available in ZIP format.

Tip: Our team highly recommends that you test your new content using your demo account before making it live for your learners to launch. This will help you determine areas that need improvement in your content and recognize if you missed a step during the configuration.

If you need more details about how you can access your demo account, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Continued...

Adobe Presenter: Publishing to a LMS

Posted April 1, 2010 by Stefan Leyhane

One of our clients was having problems yesterday loading some content to our Learning Management System (LMS) that was created with Adobe Presenter.

Being new to working with a LMS, he’s not well-versed in the technical jargon of the learning industry — he doesn’t speak SCORM. He had a folder of content and wanted to be able to load it and have students view it. Understandable. Our client had received the published files from a colleague so he hadn’t actually used Presenter himself, nor did he know what format the files were in.

I’m not aware of any of our other clients’ use of Adobe Presenter so I didn’t have any hands on experience with it. In the PowerPoint-to-Flash learning category of authoring tools, the majority leans heavily to the use of Articulate Presenter. Articulate has great support and a strong community behind them. They’ve got lots of useful articles about working with their tools, including this one detailing step-by-step instructions for publishing to a LMS. Adobe… not so much.

I went hunting on the Web for instructions to help our client out. The best I could find on how to publish from Presenter to a LMS was a partial screen shot of the product’s ‘Reporting’ tab (on Adobe’s features page).

Since I couldn’t find any instructions, I figured it would be worthwhile to download their product, try it out and document how to do it.

Continued...

Articulate users: 101 quick video tutorials

Posted October 5, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

Articulate is one of the more popular content authoring tools used by our clients. Their tools are easy to use and they seem to have helpful support and a great community behind them.

Today, they posted a great article to their blog with a list of 101 quick video tutorials. Each video shows how to do something with one their products — and all are 5 minutes or less.

I don’t use Articulate regularly but I’m often asked how to do a specific task with their products. I’ve already found a couple of videos in this list that I could have used in the past. Definitely worth checking out, if you use Articulate!

See the article »

Update: SCORM content authoring with Camtasia Studio 6

Posted July 10, 2009 by Liam Miller-Cushon

2 comments

We have previously evaluated two popular content authoring tools: Adobe Captivate versions 2 and 3, and Techsmith Camtasia Studio 4. Since that time, Techsmith has released a new version: Camtasia Studio 6. We recently investigated what this new version offers.

With Camtasia Studio 4, the completion status of an SCO was only recorded if the content contained a quiz or survey. If the content did not contain a quiz or survey, the student’s status was reported to the LMS as incomplete or unknown. As a work around, we suggested content providers include a survey question at the end of their Camtasia videos asking, for example, whether the lesson was relevant or effective.

With Camtasis Studio 6, that problem has been resolved. Flash videos with or without an embedded quiz or survey correctly report their completion status back to the LMS. This means that content providers can use a variety of other formats to deliver their training, while still being able to track completion. These new formats include WMV, MOV, AVI, RM, CAMV, and animated GIF.

We created a new guide for generating SCORM content with Camtasia Studio 6, with up-to-date instructions and suggested settings. Our findings can be found in the resources section, or here:

As always, your feedback is encouraged.

Update: SCORM content authoring with Captivate 3

Posted December 10, 2007 by Benjamin Schmidt

We recently evaluated two of the more popular content authoring tools: Adobe Captivate 2 and Techsmith Camtasia Studio 4. During our evaluation, Adobe released a new version: Captivate 3. So we spent time evaluating the features of their new version as well.

We created a document that compares Captivate 2 and 3, and acts as a guide on how to create SCORM compliant training content using the new version. It outlines specific recommendations and instructions on optimizing the functionality of training courses you create. You can find this document in the resources section or here:

We welcome your comments!

HOW TO: SCORM content authoring

Posted November 29, 2007 by Benjamin Schmidt

Our clients often ask us what the best product is for creating SCORM training content. We decided to evaluate the most popular tools so that we are able to provide the best advice. We started with Adobe Captivate 2 and Techsmith Camtasia 4 and spent four months working with the products.

Both of these products are general purpose content development environments — generating SCORM packages is just one of their output options. We found that each product has its strengths and weaknesses. Our advice for which of the products to choose really depends on what you want to use it for. We’ve added our findings to our resources section, but you can also find them here:

Let us know what you think.