New Releases

2018 a Year in Review

Posted December 5, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann
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Firmwater is celebrating its 17th birthday today! Each year we like to sit down, eat some fantastic cake, and look back at our accomplishments.

First and foremost, we want to Thank You for choosing Firmwater LMS. We are grateful for all the fantastic clients we are able to partner with.

2018 has been a great year here at Firmwater. We were able to dish out some amazing new features - in case you missed any of our announcement, we have added them below.


Firmwater LMS - Top New Features 2018

 
February

External LMS Integration

You are now able to share your courses externally with your clients’ LMS while they are hosted in Firmwater. You can download a SCORM 1.2 pointer package that acts as a gateway between the two systems. There is no need to hand over any of your source files — keep your intellectual property safe.

March

Group Manager Role

The Group Manager role is now supported within location hierarchies. This means orders can be added at any level of the hierarchy and Group Managers at higher levels can oversee the orders at the lower levels.

Cache-busting

Each time learning content is updates are applied it is now cache-busted. Your browser will not remember and display the assets from the previous version of the course. It won’t be necessary anymore to clear your cache after updates.

April

Reports

Firmwater reports have been updated to make them more useful. Later in June, the report viewer controls were also updated - they now have a new fresh look that is easier to navigate.

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent sessions are no longer allowed by the same user. That means when a user is already logged into their account, they can no longer log in again (e.g. in another browser tab).


May

Improved Content Loader

Updating existing e-learning course files is now much easier with the improved content loader. The LMS used to recognize file updates by matching the manifest ID’s. The new loader interface takes manifest ID’s out of the equation. The LMS now matches files by title or allows you to navigate to the exact file in your activity list.


July

Certificate Verification Service

This great new feature is especially interesting for training vendors providing compliance training. This is a brand new way to verify certificates by use of a QR code. Each certificate generated includes a code that can be scanned to view a snapshot of the learners’ name, course title, date, and score at the time of completion.


September

Add Participants Page

This update introduces the new ‘Add participants’ page that allows you to add users in one of three ways. A Group Manager can now send invitations to existing LMS users, invite new users by email, or generate and print a PDF document that includes a unique code for users where the email address is unknown.

Shopify Order Processing

This update improved the overall Shopify experience for both learners and administrators. It includes better handling of payment by invoice or PO, duplicate LMS accounts, and automatic course assignments.


October

Single Sign-On (SSO)

You can now enable Single Sign-On for your user community with SAML. SSO allows end-users (most often company employees) to access multiple services while providing only one set of credentials.


November

Set and Merge Locations

We have added two new actions that make working with locations easier and save you a lot of time.
 

Do you have any feature requests? Respond to this email and let us know.

Thanks for making us your trusted partner.

Visit our Release Notes or follow us on social media to learn more about exciting changes at Firmwater.


New: Set and Merge Locations

Posted November 22, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

Locations are a very useful Firmwater LMS feature. You can use them to record additional user information, to set rules around assigning content, and to allow for administrators with limited scope.

Creating Locations is a super fast and simple process. Complex location hierarchies can also be added via CSV import file. Locations can be applied to many different use cases which makes them a very effective tool and one of the biggest time savers for LMS administrators.

New action for merging locations

Merge Locations

This new action found in the bulk operation menu for locations can be used to merge one or more locations. Simply select several locations and choose which of them to be the successor for the other locations. Any users or orders attached to the removed location(s) will be moved to the succeeding location automatically.

New action for setting a location on the order summary page

Set Locations

A location is created automatically for each person who purchases a course through our e-Commerce integrations. For multi-seat purchases the Group Manager and each added participant share one location.

If a purchaser selected an incorrect location during purchase, this can now be adjusted by using the set location button on the order summary page. Simply select the correct location for the user and confirm to move them.


If you believe locations could be useful for your LMS site, please do not hesitate to contact support.


Related Post:

Segment Your Users By Location



Single Sign-On (SSO)

Posted October 22, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

What is Single Sign-On?

Have you ever gotten a request for SSO from one of your prospects or clients? Were you wondering what SSO is all about and if Firmwater LMS supports it?

On a daily basis, LMS users frequently provide their credentials to the LMS to access their account. Single Sign-On eliminates this step. Large organizations like to use SSO so that their employees only have to log in once to their corporate network, and then access many different apps, platforms, and services without having to provide their username and password again.

Example: A great example is a Google account. Logging in once provides automatic access to your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos accounts.

One of our customers has a large, multinational client that they deliver their time-management courses to. SSO was a requirement for rolling the courses out globally to all of their employees. We recently worked with them to support this.

As a result, you can now offer greater value to your clients by providing not just online training courses and a solid platform, but also a more efficient way to access the system.

Benefits - Why would your client want SSO?

SSO provides a smoother user experience and efficiency for both staff and employees. SSO lowers cybersecurity risks, lowers help desk requests and makes user account management easier.

Single Sign-On and Firmwater LMS

So far, we have successfully configured SSO with environments that use Active Directory (AD) and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) — Microsoft’s directory services for Windows networks. Our implementation is standards-based and should easily support more environments.

You may have noticed a new ‘Single Sign-On’ configuration page in the LMS. Currently, this just indicates whether SSO is enabled for a site, and for those that are, provides an indication that things are working. We plan to enhance this page so that you can configure SSO for a site yourself, but we’d like to get experience with a few more diverse environments first.

If your clients are interested in using SSO for Firmwater LMS access, contact our support team for more details. Single Sign-On is available for our Premium and Tailor Made pricing packages.

 

New: Shopify Order Processing Improvements

Posted September 30, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

We are excited to announce the latest enhancements to our Shopify integration.

The Shopify e-commerce solution enables you to start selling your e-learning courses online. Whether you want to set up an online store or sell right on your own website, Shopify is a robust platform when it comes to online retail.

Firmwater LMS integrates seamlessly with Shopify which is crucial for many of the training companies we work with. Shopify manages the entire e-commerce back-end, plus the option to create an appealing online store to showcase products. The platform works with apps to cover a wide range of functionality and features. To integrate with Shopify, Firmwater has built an app that handles the fulfillment of online course products. The app directs purchasers to the LMS site, creates a user account, and places the chosen course into the user’s training plan.

The following changes have been client-initiated. Some of them may also apply to your business model and can be applied to your account optionally.

1. Scenario - Payment by Invoice or PO

Client #1 is transitioning from a legacy platform to Firmwater LMS. Over time, the client has established a very large customer base. Most of these customers are used to paying by invoice or PO (purchase order) for the courses offered. Our client was looking to put any unpaid orders on hold until payment had been received. In the past, we exclusively supported credit card payments through our Shopify integration and would give LMS access to purchasers straight away.

Solution

We made changes to our order processing to support this scenario. We can configure your Shopify store to fulfill and auto-redirect orders based on financial status (pending, authorized, partially paid). An order that is not yet paid, is processed and displayed in the LMS’s Orders menu but purchaser access is put on hold. Once payment is received the order marked as paid in Shopify, fulfillment gets initiated. The purchaser invitation email gets sent out and the seats are made available to the purchaser.

2. Scenario - Duplicate LMS accounts

Client #2 offers a wide variety of compliance training. These courses often require annual or bi-annual re-certification. Client #2 is therefore handling a lot of returning customers. As the time-frame between purchases can be several months, learners often forget which email address they used for their last purchase or the email address was entered with a typo. In the past, we used to require for the email address used for the Shopify checkout to match the existing LMS user account email. If a new email address was used, a new user account was created for the return purchase and the client ended up with duplicate user accounts that needed merging.

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Solution

We solved this issue by pre-populating the email field during LMS sign up but allowing to adjust the email if necessary. We also added an option to log into an existing account if a purchaser already has one. This will lower the number of duplicate accounts and will lower support cases for merging LMS user accounts.

3. Scenario - Assign courses to users straight away

Our Shopify integration supports single and multi-seat scenarios. We give purchasers the option to either assign the course to themselves or to become a Group Manager and invite others to take the course. We initiate this option with a pop-up window when accessing the courses in the LMS. This course of action has been working great for a lot of our customers. For client #3, a textbook publisher, this behavior was not ideal. For their business model, each student is supposed to purchase a single book - the option to invite others would confuse the user.

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Solution

In a case where the pop-up is inappropriate, we can now disable it for the site. This is especially useful for businesses that focus on selling B2C rather than B2B. The option to invite others is not possible and the course, or in client #3’s case, the textbook is assigned to the user straight away.

If you believe that your business could benefit from using any of these features, let us know.

 

New: Certificate Verification Service

Posted September 26, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

This new feature is especially interesting for training vendors that work together with an accredited certification body.

We now have the option to add a uniquely generated Quick Response (QR) code to completion certificates. We can generate a certificate specific code that carries distinct link information. The link allows anyone to access our Certificate Verification Service. A web page accessible without credentials that display the learner’s completion details.

 

Sample CompletionCertificate with QR code

Sample Completion Certificate with QR code
Sample CompletionCertificate with QR code

Verification Service


How can I verify learner information?

To confirm the authenticity of a certificate the QR code can be scanned with a smartphone. The QR code link will open our Firmwater Certificate Verification Service page. Here you can view the learner’s name, course title, score and date/time of course completion. This means external entities can easily verify the accuracy of the information that is displayed on a digital or printed completion certificate.

Who benefits from this service?

Our client offers court-mandated training courses. Learners will have to complete the online course and present a completion certificate to the court during their hearing. A judge can now easily verify the authenticity of the certificate by scanning the QR code and comparing the details on the certificate with the LMS details that are displayed by the Certificate Verification Service.

What else is new?

We record a user’s profile name at the time of course completion. The name that gets displayed on the certificate can therefore not be changed. This guards against learners changing their profile name after completing a course to generate a certificate with someone else’s name on it.

Would you benefit from this feature? Want to learn more? Contact our Customer Success Team.

 

New: Major Updates To The ‘Add Participants’ Page

Posted September 10, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

We want to introduce you to our brand new ‘Add participants’ page that allows you to add users in one of three ways:

  • by adding existing users,
  • by inviting users by email, or 
  • by inviting with a code.

The new page has been thoughtfully designed to make the process more intuitive and cohesive, regardless of the approach. 


Who uses the ‘Add participants’ page?

This page is used by Group Managers - learners with admin privileges. A Group Manager is anyone that purchases more than one course seat through your e-commerce store. A multi-seat purchaser can invite others to the course, oversee their learning progress, and generate reports. Another scenario where we encounter Group Managers is when LMS orders are used - orders that are added manually to the platform.

add participants page

1. Add participants

Add Existing Users

A learner with an existing LMS account can be selected from a user list. Start typing the user’s name or click ‘Browse’ to select an existing learner to add to the course.

Invite By Email

If you are looking to invite a new user to the LMS, you can invite them by email. The learner will be able to create their account and access the course.

Invite With Code

This is a brand new feature that allows you to invite learners even if you don’t know their email address. A PDF invite that includes a registration link can be downloaded and distributed to the learners. The link allows the student to set up their account and access the course.


Approach1 Approach1 Approach1
Add Existing User Invite By Email Invite With Code

2. View invitations sent

Regardless of the approach used to invite a user, any invitation can be revoked before it is accepted by the learner. Invitations can also be resent in case the learner deleted the invite or cannot find it in their email inbox. The PDF paper invite used for invitations by code can be re-downloaded in case the file/paper was lost.

If you have any questions regarding the new page, or simply would like to get in touch with our Customer Success Team to discuss your training needs - get in touch.

   

New: External LMS integration

Posted June 19, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

We added a new external LMS integration feature that solves the challenges that come with distributing content as a training vendor. You are now able to host your training courses and share them externally with your clients’ LMS. Handing over any of your source files is out of the question.

Sounds great! Can you give an example? 

Sure. Bruce Wayne is the owner of Wayne Enterprises, a medium size training vendor that specializes in compliance training. He has managed and delivered his Health and Safety courses with Firmwater LMS for a few years. Bruce recently met with a prospective client that already uses an LMS. They are not interested in creating yet another account for each of their employees to take the training. Bruce and his team would really like to work with this new client, however, he is not willing to hand over any of his in-house designed course files.

Solution: External LMS integration allows you to load and manage your training courses in Firmwater LMS and provide a zip package to your client to load to their own LMS. This zip file is a SCORM 1.2 package that simply points to the content that is loaded in Firmwater LMS. A learner can launch and access the course from within the external LMS. Meanwhile, you stay in control and can manage access from your Firmwater LMS account.

What about reporting?

A local administrator is able to see all learner data pushed to Firmwater LMS reports as usual. The external LMS will be able to display:

  • Status
  • Score
  • Duration

What are the benefits for me as a training vendor?

  • Updating made simple: Looking to make an update to your online course? Update your files in Firmwater LMS and your client will automatically launch the updated version. No need to provide them with a new file to load to their system, as the integration has already been established. Your instructional designer will be happy to hear that course updates only needs to be applied to one site.
  • Sales, sales, sales: Expand into new markets by selling licenses to businesses that already use their own LMS. This opens up a wider playing field for your business development or sales team.
  • Share access - keep control: The customer has access to your courses on your terms and under your control.
  • Keep ownership of your content: Your e-learning courses are your intellectual property - keep it safe!

How do I get started?

  1. Enable Content as a Service 
    Configurations > Integrations > Edit: External LMS > Yes, allow content to be launched > SCORM 1.2 > Save Changes
  2. Download a package to provide to your client
    Content > Activities > click Activity > More actions > External LMS package
    You can download several course packages at once (provided as a compressed zip file)
  3. Manage your external LMS integration
    To manage SCORM 1.2 packages: Content > Edit: External LMS
    To manage external host domains: Configuration > Integrations > External LMS
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The external integration feature is available for our Growth, Premium and Tailor Made pricing packages.

Contact our support team if you have any further questions about external LMS integration.

 

New: Improved Content Loader

Posted May 29, 2018 by Josephine Huschmann

The move from Flash to HTML5 and constant browser updates make regular content updates a crucial part of LMS administration. We want to make this process as easy as possible so that you can focus on what you do best - being an expert and selling your great content.

Background

When we built our platform we put a lot of weight on SCORM compliance to allow launching any compliant content. With this in mind, we used the manifest identifier to match updated content files to existing content. But not all industry players were following SCORM specifications as strictly as we were. Lately, we had clients run into issues when updating content that was published with certain authoring tools.

For example, iSpring started creating a new manifest identifier value each time a package was published. Articulate Rise, on the other hand, is publishing each SCORM package with the exact same manifest identifier. Unlike other authoring tools, iSpring and Articulate Rise do not allow to set manifest identifiers in publish settings. A workaround was required which lead to users unzipping published SCORM packages to edit the imsmanifest.xml file. Editing this file takes some technical know-how and is rather tedious when dealing with many course files.

What’s new?

To solve this issue, we decided to concentrate less on the manifest identifier and more on course titles. Now, LMS administers can pick and choose which file gets updated right from the new loader interface.

The loader offers two alternatives: loading a file as new content and loading a file to update existing content. In case of an update, the LMS will match the file with existing content by use of the file’s title. However, the file can be changed by navigating to the correct course folder and learning item. 

Voilà! We have taken manifest identifiers out of the equation. No more workarounds required and the loader interface is more user-friendly. Updating course files is now a simple and easy process.


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We hope this new feature will save you time and effort when administering your LMS. 


Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions.


Related Post:

6 things to keep in mind when publishing eLearning content



2017 a Year in Review

Posted December 5, 2017 by Josephine Huschmann
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Today we are celebrating our 16th birthday and on such an occasion, we would like to take a second to show appreciation to our great clients and revisit our accomplishments.

Thank you for using Firmwater LMS for your business. It has been a pleasure and we hope you enjoy our company as much as we enjoy having you on board!

This past year has been amazing and in case you missed some of our new features - we have summarized them for you below.


Firmwater LMS - Top New Features 2017

 
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Course Library

We added the Card View for the course library

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Automatic Redirect

We support automatic redirect to Firmwater LMS from the Shopify check-out process. The user no longer needs to wait for an email to access courses purchased.

Product Bundles

We support purchases of multiple courses as a single product bundle. Seats for courses in a bundle get assigned as a single action.

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Rollup Rules

We added new ‘Attempts and Scoring’ settings. Decide whether an item is included as part of its parent’s score and whether the item is required for completion of the parent item.

Idle Timeout

We now display a prompt if no user activity is detected in the LMS for a specified amount of time. Without any response, the session is terminated. We added the appropriate presentation setting to specify an idle timeout value.

Prerequisites

We added a new ‘Prerequisites’ page for items in a course. Specify the items that must be completed before the current item becomes available. We also added item prerequisites that let you set a certain amount of time that has been spent in the course before you allow access to another item.

Auto-Sequencing

We added an action to auto-sequence a course. It makes each item in the course a prerequisite for the next item - we like to compare this to a daisy chain.


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Video Player

We now show MP4 videos in a consistent player across all browsers. Of course, we also track progress and completion.


Visit our Release Notes or follow us on Social Media to learn more about exciting changes at Firmwater.

 

New: A Video Player that Creates a Consistent User Experience

Posted August 8, 2017 by Josephine Huschmann

You can now add videos in MP4 format to your course content and users will have a consistent experience across all browsers.

How it works

Load your video in the LMS with the content loader. The LMS will automatically detect the file format and assign the activity type ‘Video’. Position your video within your course content and edit it like any other asset. Change its name, give it a description, add an image for your course library, set prerequisites, and update the file anytime with a newer version. You can decide if the video launches in a new window or the existing window, add tags, or add a completion certificate.

When a user launches the video from their Training Plan, the experience will be consistent across all platforms. The player control bar shows a play button, volume control, seek bar, full screen, and exit button. It doesn’t matter which browser you use; the player will look and feel the same. Of course, the video player is responsive so that your users can watch your content on the go with their mobile or tablet device.

At this time we have enabled seeking - allowing the user to skip forward and backward to any point in the video. We understand that some clients may want to make it mandatory to watch the video in full without skipping ahead. The Firmwater team is working hard to add this option in the future.

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Features

  • Supported file types: mp4 and m4v
  • Consistent look between browsers & browser versions
  • Supports mobile devices
  • Volume control and full-screen mode
  • Videos will auto play upon loading
  • Video progress is saved and video resumes at current progress
  • Video goes from ‘in progress’ to ‘completed’ status once fully watched
  • Video seeking is enabled - users can skip to any part of the video as it plays

What about SCORM?

The video will be placed into a SCORM wrapper, that allows the LMS to track the current progress time, as well as when a user has completed watching a video. This is important for tracking data, attempts and completion statuses in reports.

We hope you find these improvements useful. If you have any questions, please contact us.

 

New: Specify Completion & Scoring Rules for Course Items

Posted June 23, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

Along with being able to add prerequisites to a course item, you can now specify whether or not:

a. It is required for the completion of parent item

b. It should be included as part of parent item’s score

In the past, we had to work together to figure out the scoring and completion rules you wanted to have in place for your course. Now, you can do it all when administering the LMS. In the ‘Attempts and Scoring’ page of an item, we added a section titled ‘Parent Item’ where both of these options can be edited. Simply check the box near each statement and click on ‘save changes’.

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This feature is particularly relevant if you’d like the course score to be reflecting a final assessment score. Another example would be if you want to exclude certain files from affecting the completion status of the course (e.g. additional resources).

We hope you find this update useful!

Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions.

New: Idle Timeout

Posted June 15, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

We added a new feature to our LMS that ensures that your learners are actively interacting with their assigned content. There is a new presentation setting where you can specify an idle timeout value.

For content that has an idle timeout set, we’ll detect user activity in the content window after the learner launches a learning item (lesson, topic, module, etc.). If no activity is detected for a specified period of time, a warning message is displayed asking them whether they want to continue with the current session or log out. If the user does not respond to this prompt within two minutes, their session is terminated and they get logged out of the system.

idle timeout warning

If a learner’s session is terminated this way, we’ll subtract the timeout value from their session duration so that they don’t get credit for time in content when they weren’t active.

By default, all SCORM content is configured with an idle timeout of 10 minutes. The warning message will be displayed after eight minutes of inactivity and the learner will have two minutes to respond before before logged out.

If the user clicks the ‘Stay Logged In’ button, the timer resets and they won’t see the warning message until we detect another eight minutes of inactivity.

User activity

The below actions are considered user activity in the launched content browser window:

  • moving the mouse
  • clicking the mouse
  • scrolling the mouse wheel
  • using the keyboard
  • touch events

How to enable/disable idle timeout

As an administrator, you can set a timeout value from two different areas:

  1. Through the presentation settings of an individual learning item.

    Navigate to some SCORM content in the ‘Content’ tab and click ‘Edit’. In the top right drop-down edit menu, choose ‘Presentation’. Under ‘Idle Timeout’ you will find two options, either select ‘No Idle Timeout’ or specify inactivity duration (minimum 2 minutes) before a user is logged out.

    Presentations page

  2. Through the activity list page using the presentation bulk operation.

    From the ‘Activities’ page in the ‘Content’ tab, check the courses you would like to select items from. Choose ‘Presentation’ from the bottom-left drop down menu then click on ‘Go’.

    Bulk operations

    In the ‘Presentation’ window, the first step is to select the type of learning item you would like to set the timer for. This may be any launch-able SCO item. The second step is to apply the feature. Again, you will find two options under ‘Idle Timeout’. You may either select ‘No Idle Timeout’ to disable it or specify inactivity duration (minimum 2 minutes) before a user is logged out.

Supported browsers

The following browsers support the idle timeout feature:

  • Google Chrome (latest)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest)
  • Microsoft Edge (latest)
  • Safari (latest)
  • Internet Explorer 9+

We hope you can benefit from this feature. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.

New: Adding Prerequisites to Modules Within a Course

Posted June 13, 2017 by Stefan Leyhane

You can now add sequencing to the modules within your courses through the user interface. Previously, you had to load a SCORM package to do this or get us to help you to do so.

Prerequisites page

We’ve added a new ‘Prerequisites’ page for items in courses.

Prerequisites page

From the page, you can indicate which other items in the course need to be completed before the current item can be accessed. One or more items can be selected.

You can also indicate the amount of time that the learner must spend in the course (across all modules) before the current item can be accessed. This is useful for courses that mandate that the learner spends a certain number of hours in training before starting the final exam.

Auto-sequence a course

The most common scenario for sequencing in courses is to require the learner to complete the modules in the order that they appear. We’ve made it really easy to do this.

From the course summary page, use the ‘Auto-sequence’ action. This will make each item in the course a prerequisite for the next item.

Auto-sequence a course

Of course, you can edit an item and remove its prerequisite, if needed.

Learner experience

As a learner, items that have prerequisites will be disabled until the requirements are met. A tool tip with information about what needs to be completed before the item is available is shown. We also suggest making any such requirements clear in an item’s description, along with other pertinent information to set the learner’s expectations.

Learner experience for prerequisite

We hope you find these changes useful!

New: Card View of Course Library

Posted March 22, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

For those of you who offer their users a self-registration option, we recently added a new option for viewing the Firmwater LMS course library - Cards with Images. We’re very excited to introduce this new feature as it will enhance your end users’ experience making it easier for them to select their courses.

Here is what your course library can now look like:

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Add an image to a course

Looks much better, right? In order to enable this feature, first, you will need to upload images for each of the courses in your library, here’s how:

Select the course from the activities list and click on Edit. At the bottom of that page, you should see the option to upload an image.

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Enable the Course Library

Now, to make that visible in the course library:

  1. Go to your Configuration tab. Select Course Library from the right-hand side menu.
  2. Under Layout > Show Library As > select Cards with images.

Tip: You can go one step further and categorize your courses based on the type of item they are. You can do so by indicating which tags you would like to use to filter them.


Add my course to the Course Library

You can add your courses to your Library by navigating to the course > edit > Self-Registration > Yes, allow students to self-register > Save Changes.

If you have any questions or comments about this new feature, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

New: Group Manager Role

Posted March 10, 2017 by Kinda Nehlawi

In an effort to make managing your online courses easier than ever, we have added a new user role, the Group Manager, tailored for those who sell courses online in mind. 

How it works:

Once a purchase for multiple seats is made in Shopify, the purchaser automatically gets assigned the Group Manager role in the LMS.

When signed in, a Group Manager’s main page is the Home page. 

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    As a Group Manager, you can:  
  • Assign seats to participants via a new Home page
  • Assign seats to yourself - select assign seat to me
  • View available participants and remaining seats
  • Manage users in each course using the Users tab
  • Run and export reports on these specific users using the Reports
  • View invitations sent, the date they were sent, e-mail address they were sent to and their status. Simply click on View Invitations Sent
  • Revoke or resend invitations. Simply check-off the invitation and select an action, then click on Go

Please note: once an invitation is accepted, you can no longer revoke or re-send the invitation. You will notice that it will appear greyed out. 

We sincerely hope this makes your purchased seat management easier. If you have any questions or comments about this new feature, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Continued...

New: Customize Email Templates

Posted June 9, 2016 by Branagh O' Shaughnessy

One of the highlights of using Firmwater LMS is the freedom and flexibility to customize yours and your clients’ sites. Our customizations include tailored email notifications triggered by the LMS. We have developed this new feature to put you in control of email content for yours and your client sites. In one place, you can easily edit, and update the email templates for all sites.

If you need to edit the text in the welcome message, or add information to the due date reminder, this is now possible through the Email Configuration interface. If you make any changes to the existing email template you can send a test email to the email address of your choice, and see the changes made.

If changes are made at the master level, the update will automatically carry through for any client sites that are inheriting the master email templates. Your client administrators can also edit the email notifications for their organization. This allows you to more efficiently oversee multiple clients with Firmwater LMS.

The next time you need to update the master email template, or make a change for a client, follow these steps:

  1. In the relevant organization, go to the ‘Configuration’ tab and select ‘Emails’ from the grey sub-menu. The next page is the list of all email templates available for editing.
  2. Scroll to the email template you wish to edit and click on ‘Edit template’. Next you will see the email template broken down into the subject and body sections.
  3. Edit email template

  4. Two tabs are available to you for editing. These offer the email template in plain text and HTML formats.
  5. Make any edits required and click ‘Save Changes’.
  6. To see your changes in effect, select ‘Send test email’ to the email address of your choice.
  7. For more detailed instructions please see this guide on how to customize email templates.

    We hope you enjoy the new release. If you have any questions or comments about this new feature, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

New: Change a User’s Access to Assigned Content

Posted April 22, 2016 by Branagh O' Shaughnessy

We just added a new feature that allows you to more easily change a participant’s access to a course. Regardless of the way the content was assigned to a user — because of a purchase or because they qualified for a rule-based assignment — you can now easily change the due date and last day of access.

Many of our clients sell access to their e-learning courses for a set amount of time. This may be 30 days, or a year, or somewhere in-between. While Firmwater LMS can be configured to send reminders to participants that have not completed courses, there will always be people that don’t get them done on time.

Our clients sometimes get requests for extensions. This new feature allows for better management of these.

How to change access

The next time a learner requests an extension of their access to a course, here’s how you can accommodate them:

  1. Go to the ‘Content’ tab and select the relevant course. Drill down to see the list of participants.
  2. Check off the users you wish to change access for and use the Change access bulk operation in the drop-down at the bottom of the list.
  3. You are now prompted to change the due date and end date for the selected users. Add an optional note to help you track changes, and save.

It’s as simple as that!

Change access

As an administrator, you can also change access for a user from the user’s ‘Training Plan’ details. For more detailed instructions please see this guide on changing access to learning content.

We hope you enjoy the new release. If you have any questions or comments about this new feature, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Assemble Course Content in Firmwater LMS

Posted March 3, 2016 by Branagh O' Shaughnessy

You can now assemble course content in Firmwater LMS! Load individual modules, quizzes, and PDFs to the system and build them up into larger courses based on how you wish users to progress through your content.

Build up your course content

Most third-party authoring tools, like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate, only allow you to publish individual modules. You may want your course to consist of a course overview PDF, followed by a number of small modules organized into folders, and then an exam. You can now easily build up this structure in Firmwater LMS.

You can now create new empty activities, create folders inside existing activities, and load content (SCORM packages, PDFs, and other files) inside existing activities. Re-order the contents of an activity to achieve the desired structure.

How it works

When you access the Create activity action in the Content tab, you will be asked to name your new activity and to indicate its type (i.e. course, module, section etc.).

New Course Builder

Your new activity will be created and you will be prompted to add content to it. Click ‘Add content’ and you will be presented with several options for adding this content:

Function Description
Load new content from file This will allow you to load a SCORM package or PDF from your system into the current activity.
Select an existing item from system You will be directed to choose from a list of activities previously loaded to your site. This allows you to add single or multiple learning items to the current activity. First choose the desired activity from the drop down list. Next choose the desired item enclosed within this activity.
Create a new folder This allows you to create a sub-folder within the activity, and add learning items to it. You will be asked to name the folder, and it will then be visible in the activity tree.

Once you have added desired content, items can be re-ordered by clicking and dragging the icon beside the item’s title. Changes you make to the activity tree are automatically saved. Once your new activity is structured as needed, it is ready for delivery to participants.

For more detailed instructions, please see our Quickstart guide.

Enjoy!

Introducing: The New and Improved Content Loader

Posted January 15, 2016 by Branagh O' Shaughnessy

We recently transformed our content loader. The new loader incorporates all the functionality of the previous version, but with added improvements. We have enhanced it to automatically detect the type of upload you are carrying out.

The new loader

Firmwater LMS will automatically detect if the file you load already exists for your organization. If the loader finds a match with existing content, it will tell you the activities and number of clients using it. Once you confirm the update, Firmwater will update the newly loaded activity in all of these places. You can still upload content as new or update the resources of existing content, as in the old loader. The only difference is you don’t have to indicate your desired operation - instead the loader detects the operation based on the file you upload.

We’ve also made a few other tweaks to help you out when things go wrong:

  • We now load SCORM packages that were zipped up with an extra top folder (a common issue).
  • We detect when you accidentally load your authoring tool project file and alert you.
  • We provide better error feedback if something is wrong with your file.

How it works

When you access the Load Content feature through the Content tab, you will launch the Load Content dialog box. Just drag and drop your SCORM package or PDF file directly into the dialog box. You can also click on the box to navigate to a file location on your computer. Pro tip: drag your file directly onto the activities list page and the dialog will open automatically! Watch it upload and add your activity title and type.

New Content Loader

Conclusion

We have made the following improvements to our loader:

  • Descriptive feedback is given in the event a bad file is loaded.
  • The loader can detect if the file you load already exists for your site, so you don’t have to input whether you are updating or loading content as new.
  • If the loader detects a matching file on the site, it will report this you. You will be shown the activities and the number of clients currently using this file.
  • This provides you with better scope of the update you are carrying out. You can now rest easy knowing how many activities and clients are impacted by your update.

Archive Content

Posted October 26, 2015 by Branagh O' Shaughnessy

You can now archive learning activities and events in Firmwater LMS. Archived items cannot be edited and no new participants may be added. Existing participants continue to have access.

Archiving gives you a way to get old content out of view, but still keep all the history associated with that content. Some scenarios where this may come in handy:

  1. You don’t want to see old events.
  2. You are refreshing your content library with mobile-friendly courses. Since you may want to roll out the new courses slowly to your clients, it’s sometimes best to load them as new content. As you replace each course, you can archive the old version so it is not used going forward.
  3. You want to hide the individual modules that are used by assembled courses. Archiving the original modules allows you to still update them, but gets them out of view.

How to archive content

Administrators (with appropriate privileges) can archive content by selecting one or more courses from the ‘Activities’ or ‘Events’ page in the ‘Content’ tab and using the ‘Archive’ operation.

The list of courses can be filtered to show only the active courses, only the archived courses, or all courses.

Archive feature navigation

How is this different from deleting content?

Deleting content wipes it from the system while archiving just gets it out of view. If you want existing participants to continue to have access and you want to keep the history associated with a course or event, archive it.

Archive Content vs. Delete Content Archive Delete
Can still be accessed by existing participants x
Still appears in reports x
Additional participants can be added x x
Content can be updated x
Content can be edited x x
Shows in active activities list x x
Shows in archived activities list x
Content can be reactivated x

Order Management Enhancements

Posted May 1, 2015 by Stefan Leyhane

We added some new order management capabilities to Firmwater LMS this week.

Firmwater LMS integrates with Shopify to give you a fantastic platform to sell your courses online. You can build a beautiful store, list your courses, and have the LMS automatically deliver courses purchased. Individuals can buy courses for themselves or multiple seat purchases can be made for a company.

We’re working on making the management of these orders from within the LMS better. This week’s enhancements include:

1. Orders list now shows each order’s status

The orders list page now shows the status of each order. This will help you quickly find orders that haven’t been acted on by the purchaser.

2. New order summary page

You can now drill into an order from the list to see its details.

New order summary page

The new page shows the courses that were purchased, the number of seats, and the status of each.

We’ll expand the actions available from this page over time but, initially, you can:

  • Resend the invitation to the purchaser if it hasn’t been accepted yet. The invitation can be sent to either the same address or to a new one.
  • Delete the order. This is useful for when you’re testing or if someone makes an incorrect purchase.
  • Add participants to a course on your client’s behalf.

3. Extended the life of purchaser invitation tokens

Initially, we thought that 30 days was long enough to give purchasers to click on the link in the email to accept the courses they purchased. Boy, were we wrong! We’ve learned that some people buy online courses and then sit on them for a very long time before going to use them.

We’ve now extended the life of purchaser invitation tokens to match the life of the courses purchased. If you don’t put a limit on when courses must be started by, we give purchasers a year.

This should help cut down on the number of requests you get to resend invitations.


We hope you find these improvements useful. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us.

Easier navigation between clients

Posted March 30, 2015 by Stefan Leyhane

Some of our customers have hundreds of clients and create a branded LMS site for each. For those especially, today’s release will be welcome news. We’ve made it easier to navigate between different organizations in Firmwater LMS.

The old ‘Administer’ organization drop-down in the top navigation is still there, but now it’s super-charged. You can still scroll through the list, but now you can search too — it will be filtered as you type.

Improved organization drop-down

The drop-down now also shows the organization tree for the current context, which you can use to change organizations too. For most of you, this means you have an easy way to jump back to your master organization. For those with re-sellers of your content (and so more levels of organizations), this is even more useful.

This is a small improvement but we hope you find it helpful. We certainly do!

Now optimized for mobile and tablet devices

Posted June 4, 2014 by Stefan Leyhane

Responsive design

The experience using Firmwater LMS on phones and tablets is now improved.

While our LMS always worked on these devices, it used to require a lot of pinch and zooming. The interface now adapts to the screen size that you are using, using a technique called Responsive Design. Those blessed with ‘Retina’ devices, now get the benefit of new, sharper icons too.

Our first goal is to optimize all the student-facing pages and we’re almost all the way there. We will finish off the few remaining pages and then start to tackle the administrative pages. This will be a longer term effort as converting some of the administrative pages present a larger challenge.

Your content needs to support these devices too

Of course, for your students to have a full mobile or tablet experience, your course-ware needs to be able to run on these devices too. Most of the popular third-party authoring tools (Articulate, Captivate, Lectora, iSpring) can now output to HTML5 (Flash doesn’t run on phones and tablets). They seem to be all battling to win your heart in this regard.

The key, however, is to test, test, test your content on different devices. While the state of the art is improving, we’ve found that the performance doesn’t always meet what is advertised. Some interactions work well in HTML5 and others don’t. Your success will be determined by the tool you’re using and the nature of your content.

Please get in touch if you’d like more insight. We hope you enjoy these improvements.

Send reminder emails

Posted February 7, 2014 by Stefan Leyhane

We recently added three new reminder emails to the system:

  • Due Date Reminder
    Reminds a participant about an upcoming due date for activities they have not completed.
  • Overdue Reminder
    Reminds a participant about overdue activities they have not completed.
  • Access Ending Reminder
    Reminds a participant that they have only a certain number of days before their access to activities they have not completed will end.

Access ending reminder

Reminder emails are sent once a day. If multiple courses that a participant hasn’t completed are due on the same day, they will all be listed in one email.

You can specify the number of days relative to the due date or relative to the last access date that the email will be sent. You can also choose to only send the reminder for activities of a specific type (eg. ‘Course’).

You may want to configure multiple instances of the same reminder. For example, you may want an email to go out 30 days before courses are due and, again, one week before they are due.

Like all our email notifications, the text of these messages can be customized for your organization. Users can opt out of receiving them if you allow them to.

How to enable reminders

We haven’t enabled any of these reminders by default for existing clients. Here’s how you turn them on:

  1. Ensure that you are currently administering the organization that you want to turn the reminder on for. Go to the ‘Configuration’ tab and click on ‘Emails’ in the menu.
  2. Click ‘Edit Settings’ to configure the email.
  3. Turn the reminder on. Click ‘Save Changes’.

We hope these reminders will help your participants to complete more courses.

New theme available

Posted January 8, 2014 by Stefan Leyhane

We added a new default theme to our system late last year.

Minimal theme

The new theme provides a refreshed modern look to the clean and simple interface you know and love. We wanted our clients using our Shopify integration to start with a similar feel out-of-the-box across our LMS and their store so we based it on Shopify’s default theme.

If you haven’t already switched to our ‘Minimal’ theme, get in touch and we’ll apply it to your demo site so that you can give it a spin.

We’re continuing to make improvements to it and are moving in the direction of adding better support for tablets and mobile devices. Stay tuned.

New course assigned email

Posted August 29, 2013 by Stefan Leyhane

We added a new notification to the system this afternoon: ‘New Course Assigned’. This one has been on our list for a long time. It notifies an existing user that they have been assigned a course.

New course assigned email

For single course assignments, the course description and a direct link to the course is included in the email. For multiple course assignments, the list of courses assigned is included and a link to the user’s training plan. It does not handle the case where the user is assigned content as part of a rule-based assignment (by job title, department, etc). We have plans of adding this capability in the future.

Like all our email notifications, the text of the message can be customized for your organization. Users can opt out of receiving it if you allow them to.

How to enable it

We haven’t enabled this email by default for existing clients. Here’s how you turn it on:

  1. Ensure that you are currently administering the organization that you want to turn the email on for. Go to the ‘Configuration’ tab and click on ‘Emails’ in the menu.
  2. Turn the ‘New Course Assigned’ email on. Click ‘Save Changes’.

We hope you and your clients find this useful!

Delete a client

Posted July 12, 2013 by Stefan Leyhane

Another small feature that we added earlier this week is the ability to delete a client. We’ve always allowed you to disable an organization’s access. This lets you completely remove an organization from the system.

Organization status settings

We don’t recommend you deleting a client that has any real data associated with it. You’ll only want to make use of this if you’ve created an organization in error or if you created one temporarily for demonstration purposes.

We hope this is helpful.

Using your default logo

Posted July 8, 2013 by Stefan Leyhane

We added a little enhancement this afternoon that might make your life a little easier when adding new clients. We added a ‘default’ option when choosing a logo.

Default logo option

Many of our clients create branded sites for their clients. But some keep their own branding for some or all of their client sites.

If you do this, then this new option will save you a step. Instead of having to upload another copy of your logo, you can just leave the ‘Default’ option selected. And, if you ever need to change your logo, you’ll only have to do it for your own organization — all your client sites that use the default will be updated automatically.

We hope this saves you a little bit of time.

Launch content in a new window

Posted March 27, 2013 by Stefan Leyhane

We resisted this one for years but we have finally admitted defeat and given in. You can now configure your content to be launched in a new window.

We have always strived to provide a clean, simple interface for our users. We made an early decision that we wouldn’t have our LMS open new browser windows, since we felt this could cause confusion. Browsers were becoming increasingly restrictive in allowing new windows to be opened (in their battle against advertising pop-ups) and we were worried the user could have trouble finding or managing multiple windows. We felt that launching content in the same window was the correct approach.

We lost this battle. The reality is that a great deal of existing learning content that we’ve run across was designed with the assumption that it is running in its own window. Some content requires being launched in its own window. So we’ve given in, and now the option is yours. You can launch your content in:

  1. the existing window,
  2. a new window of a specific size, or
  3. a new fullscreen window.

Presentation settings

You can change this setting for any launch-able item on its ‘Presentation’ page. If you want to change the setting for many items at once, use the ‘Presentation’ bulk operation from the ‘Activities’ list page.

We hope this helps.

Improved tax support

Posted August 21, 2012 by Stefan Leyhane

We released an update last night that includes improvements for our clients who collect taxes when people purchase their courses or memberships to their course libraries.

Taxes are complicated

Tax calculation is more complicated than you’d think. Taxes are sometimes calculated based on the purchaser’s address and sometimes based on the course’s location. If you offer registration options, like a course manual or accommodation to go with some instructor-led training, the taxes that apply to those options may differ from the ones that apply to the course itself.

In some areas, such as Quebec in Canada, you have taxes which are cumulative. QST is applied to the price of the product or service after GST is applied.

Often, taxes are only charged if the purchaser is located within a particular area. If you’re based in Australia, you might only need to charge GST to people who live there. All others don’t pay any tax.

Rest assured, Firmwater LMS supports all these scenarios.

Recent improvements

Our latest update includes the following improvements:

1. You can now select the tax schedule to use when setting a price.

If you have one or more tax schedules defined, you can now specify which one to use (or none) when setting a price for a course, registration option, or membership type.

Specify tax schedule to use when adding a price for a course

2. Calculated taxes are now shown on all pages before payment.

  • Course registration pages
  • Membership sign-up page
  • Membership renewal page
  • Administrator’s pages for creating, renewing, or editing a user’s membership

Taxes shown for membership sign-up

We hope you find these improvements useful. If you have any questions or need help setting up tax collection for your courses, please get in touch with us.

Using email address instead of username

Posted July 26, 2012 by Stefan Leyhane

We added a new option today to allow your users to use email addresses to log in to the system instead of usernames.

With all the Web sites that you need to access these days, it’s often difficult to remember your username — especially when someone has gotten your preferred username before you. Since email addresses are unique, the task is more straightforward. You often want to collect the email address of your users anyway, so using it to log in means one less field they have to fill in.

Here’s how to switch to use email addresses

  1. From the ‘Configuration’ tab, navigate to the ‘Settings’ page.
  2. Switch to edit ‘Accounts and Access’ from the drop-down menu (top-right).

    Account and Access settings

  3. Select ‘Login with an email address’ under the ‘Usernames’ heading. Click the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page.

    If you have existing users in the organization, you can only make this change if all users have valid email addresses. You’ll be prompted to confirm the change.

    Once the setting is changed, you’ll see your login page requires an email address instead of a username.

We’re now using this setting as our default for all new clients. We hope you find it useful too!

New: Edit presentation settings in bulk

Posted April 23, 2012 by Stefan Leyhane

Hot on the heels of editing attempts and scoring settings in bulk, you can now edit presentation settings in bulk.

Presentation settings determine some of the behavior and navigation of content — especially for tests and surveys — when users interact with it. The settings control things such as time limits, whether to allow suspend and resume, and determine the feedback presented. This new feature makes life easier for our clients with large content libraries who customize the course behavior for each of their clients.

Editing settings

  1. Select one or more of your courses from the ‘Activities’ page in the ‘Content’ tab and select the ‘Presentation’ operation.
  2. A pop-up dialog is displayed. Select the type of item that you’d like to change.

    Courses can contain lots of items within them (such as pre-tests, lessons, and study guides). Settings are applied to items of a specific type. So you can change the settings for all your pre-tests in one operation.

  3. After selecting a type, the settings are enabled and show the current state for the selected items. If a mix of values exist, that is conveyed. Make your changes and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
  4. After the changes are made, the dialog is dismissed and feedback is presented. The feedback includes a link to undo the changes.

Editing presentation settings

Enjoy!

New: Edit attempts and scoring settings in bulk

Posted April 11, 2012 by Stefan Leyhane

Some of our clients have large content libraries and customize the course behavior for each of their clients. We’ve now made this much easier.

One particular client has hundreds of courses in their library. Each course contains about 30 hours of training material but includes a pre-test so that users who know the material can test out. When a new client signs up, they configure the passing score required to test out and, in some cases, the number of attempts allowed at it based on the client’s requirements.

We’ve always allowed you to modify these settings on a course by course basis. In our most recent release, we now make it simple for you to edit these settings in bulk.

Here’s how you do it

  1. Select one or more of your courses from the ‘Activities’ page in the ‘Content’ tab and select the ‘Attempts and scoring’ operation.
  2. A pop-up dialog is displayed. Select the type of item that you’d like to change.

    Courses can contain lots of items within them (such as pre-tests, lessons, and study guides). Settings are applied to items of a specific type. So you can change the settings for all your pre-tests in one operation.

  3. After selecting a type, the settings are enabled and show the current state for the selected items. If a mix of values exist, that is conveyed. Make your changes and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
  4. After the changes are made, the dialog is dismissed and feedback is presented. The feedback includes a link to undo the changes.

Editing attempts and scoring settings

The ‘Attempts and scoring’ operation is also available when looking at all courses that have a specific tag applied. If your course library is segmented into series or by publisher, this makes it really easy to change all the settings for your groups of courses.

For those of you with large content libraries, we hope this addition is useful!

New: Proctoring capabilities

Posted February 22, 2012 by Stefan Leyhane

We’ve added proctoring capabilities in our latest release. You can now designate any launchable item as requiring a proctor be present before it can be launched.

Some of our clients want to ensure that their course post-tests or exams are taken in a controlled environment — or at least confirm the user taking the test is in fact the actual person. Here’s how it works:

Designate an item as requiring a proctor

  1. From the ‘Content’ tab, go to the course summary page.
  2. Click on the item that you’d like to require a proctor for.
  3. From the item’s summary page, click ‘Edit’.
  4. Switch to the ‘Attempts and Scoring’ page.
  5. Check off the new ‘Require proctor’ option and click ‘Save Changes’.

Attempts and Scoring page

Launching the proctored item

When a user tries to launch the item, she is presented with a dialog indicating that an administrator is required to authorize the launch.

Proctor dialog

Any administrator that has the user in scope can authorize the launch by entering their username and password with the following exclusions:

  • Users cannot act as a proctor for themselves.
  • Report-only administrators cannot act as proctors.

After a proctor has authorized the launch, the dialog indicates that the item can be launched.

Proctor dialog when authorized

Authorization is only good for the next launch of that attempt and has a short expiry time (5 minutes). If a user suspends a proctored item, she will require a proctor’s authorization to resume it.

As an administrator, you can see who acted as a proctor for a user’s attempts at an item on the Attempts page.

More coming

The work we’ve done so far handles the single computer scenario well. This is where the student and proctor both use a shared computer. We plan on adding some more administrative functionality to deal with the classroom environment as well.

We’d love to hear your feedback on how this works for you! Enjoy.

New: Continuing Education credits management

Posted April 29, 2011 by Stefan Leyhane

We released some enhancements this morning that help you manage the Continuing Education credits earned when your courses are taken. If you provide completion certificates when users successfully complete your courses, the credits earned are listed on the certificates.

This morning’s enhancements allow you to define the credit types that are available and to assign credits against your courses. Here’s a quick overview of how to use the new functionality:

Define Continuing Education credit types

  1. Enable ‘Continuing Education Credits’ functionality for your organization from the Settings page.

  2. With the functionality turned on, you’ll see a new ‘Credit Types’ menu for the Configuration tab. This page shows you all the Continuing Education credit types that are available for an organization.

    You can add new types and, if you have more than one defined, you can drag to set the order that they are displayed in.

    Credit types page

Assign credits to your courses

  1. To assign credits to one of your courses, go to the course summary page and click the ‘Edit’ link.

  2. Switch to the ‘Credits and Certificate’ page.

  3. Assign values to one or more of the listed credit types and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.

    Credits and Certificate page

It’s as simple as that. You’ll now see the credits listed on the course summary page. If completion certificate access is enabled, the certificates will include information about the credits earned.

We’ve got some more enhancements planned to expose more information about the Continuing Education credit earned by users in reports, so stay tuned. Enjoy!

New: Send welcome messages to your users

Posted March 10, 2011 by Stefan Leyhane

We just released the first phase of some work we’re doing on adding more email capability to the system. We have plans for adding a number of different email notifications but the first allows you to send welcome messages to your users. This is good way to introduce new users to your program or course and provide them with a link that allows them to set their password and access the system.

How to send messages

Welcome messages can be sent or resent one at a time or in bulk.

  1. Use the new ‘Send welcome message’ action from the user summary page. The user must have a well-formed email address for the action to be enabled.

    User summary page

  2. Select one or more users from the users list page and use the ‘Send welcome message’ operation.

    If you’ve setup a new client, have assigned content to the users and are ready to go live, this is a good way to send messages to all the users.

    Users list page

  3. You can also send welcome messages to new users when importing a list of users. Enable the ‘Send users a welcome message’ checkbox on the confirmation page.

    Import confirmation page

  4. If you allow users to signup and create their own accounts, you can have a welcome message sent to new users when this happens.

Configuring your emails

You can configure which emails are turned on for any of your clients from the Support and Email Settings page. You can also specify the email’s sender name and reply to address. In the future, this is also where you’ll edit the content of the emails if you want to customize them. We haven’t added that capability yet. Until then, if you want a custom message, just let us know and we’ll be happy to configure it for you.

Support and Email Settings page

High deliverability

Our email infrastructure is designed for high deliverability so emails should avoid junk filters and make it through to your users’ inboxes. It is also designed to scale, as we expect to send tens of thousands of emails each month.

We’re excited to build on this first phase of email capability. We hope you like it.

Support for password complexity requirements

Posted November 18, 2010 by Stefan Leyhane

Just a quick note to say that we added support for meeting password complexity requirements early this morning in a new release of our LMS.

You’ve always had the option of enforcing a minimum password length and requiring users to change their password after a certain number of days. Now you can require that their password meet other criteria.

To start, we have two options:

  1. No complexity requirements (default)
  2. Start with letter, and contain at least one number and one special character

You can set the password settings on the Accounts and Access page.

Accounts and Access page

We’re able to add other complexity requirements so if one of your clients or prospects has a specific requirement, let us know!

New assignment filters, membership registration

Posted September 3, 2010 by Stefan Leyhane

Early yesterday morning we deployed a new version of our LMS to production. We’ve moved to a model where we’re doing smaller, more frequent releases. The hope is that, with less changes in each, we’ll have less testing to do per release and you’ll see more frequent improvements. In the version deployed yesterday, there are two main new features:

Assign content based on language or membership type

Membership registrationMembership registration

We added two new filter options to assignments. You can now create rules to deliver content to users based on the membership type of a user or on the user’s language. Of course, you’ll only see these new options for clients that have membership enabled or support multiple languages.

Membership registration

You can now designate specific membership types that allow self-registration. When enabled, each membership type will have its own registration page. By visiting the page, a user can create and pay for membership when signing up for an account.

And, paired with the new assignment membership type filter, new members who register will be able to access training content immediately.

To see all bug fixes and features in the release, please see the release notes for Version 2.14.

New help docs, better searching, and more

Posted July 12, 2010 by Stefan Leyhane

Early this morning, we deployed a new version of our LMS to our production site. Along with several bug fixes, there are over a dozen new features in the release. We hope you find them useful. Here are the highlights:

New help documentation

Help documentationHelp documentation

Search across clientsSearch across clients

Assessment presentation settingsAssessment presentation settings

We’ve completely revamped the help documentation that is available from within the LMS. This was a long process but useful to us as it identified a few areas of our application where we can improve things. There is now complete documentation for both administrators and students. It can be accessed from the ‘Help’ link in the top-right corner of the LMS when you’re logged in (it’s also available on our public site’s support section). The documentation you see from within the LMS depends on your assigned role.

Documentation is an ongoing process so we’ll continue to improve it over time. We also have plans of making the default help page context-sensitive so that it’s determined by which page it was launched from.

Search across all your clients

It was really easy to search for a user within an organization — but not if you didn’t know what organization the user was associated with. Sometimes you may get a support request in the form of a voicemail or in an email which doesn’t give a clue as to the person’s organization.

We recognized that we didn’t have an effective way for administrators to search across all their clients. Given that some of our clients have hundreds of their own clients using our LMS, we needed to do something.

We’ve added a new tab called ‘Search’ which is available, for now, only to Master Administrators (in fact, it is their new default page). It provides a quick way to search for a user or to jump to a client. The page may look a little sparse for now but, don’t worry, we’ve got greater plans for this page coming.

Edit presentation settings of assessments

Our built-in assessment engine offers many presentation options to control the user’s experience when taking a test or survey. You can specify:

  • a time limit
  • whether users can suspend and resume an attempt
  • how users can navigate through questions
  • what feedback is displayed
  • the information displayed to the user after they complete an attempt

While we’ve always allowed you to control these settings at author-time, we didn’t provide an easy way to update these on the fly. This is now possible. This is especially useful for our clients who share the same test or survey across many clients but want different settings to be used.

Easier updating of your content

Quite often, typos are found or some tweaks are required after you deploy your learning content to a population of users. We’ve made it easier for you to update previously loaded content. There is now a new option on the content loading page which specifies that you want to update the resources of content in place.

Other new features and enhancements

A few more of the new features and enhancements include:

  • Ability to display the list of locations as an expandable hierarchy
  • Ensure that learning content with long-running videos doesn’t time out
  • Complete support for SCORM 2004 roll-up rules

To see all bug fixes and features in the release, please see the release notes for Version 2.13.

Spanish language support added

Posted December 9, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

Just a quick note to mention that we’ve added support for Spanish to our LMS. This adds to the existing language support that we have — both for students and administrators — for English and French.

You can choose which languages you’d like to make available for your organization’s users. And, if you’re interested in adding support for another language, please contact us.

Esperamos que te guste!

Version 2.12: Custom domains and improved reporting

Posted October 10, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

It is a long weekend for us here in Canada (Happy Thanksgiving!) and also for those lucky enough in the U.S. to get Columbus Day off on Monday. Perfect time for a new release of our LMS — so we deployed Version 2.12 last night.

This one took a little longer than usual to get out the door, but hopefully it will prove to be worth the wait. We upgraded some of our infrastructure in the process, so we needed to be extra careful to make sure that everything works smoothly. Along with several bug fixes, there are over 20 new features. Here are the highlights:

Custom domains

Interaction Data ReportInteraction Data Report

New file upload interfaceNew file upload interface

We offer our service as a white-label solution. When you offer our LMS to your clients, we want it to appear as if you made it. You control the branding and the terminology used. Your clients see your contact support information and the system can be customized so that emails are sent from your organization.

The final step to completely hide Firmwater from view was to allow you to use your own custom domain. We had done this for a few of our larger clients but it wasn’t easy for us to manage this across a large number of clients. Now we can offer it to everybody.

You can now choose to use your own domain. So, instead of sending out addresses to your clients with ‘lms.firmwater.com’, you can use a URL such as:

lms.yourcompany.com’ or ‘portal.yourcompany.com’ (or whatever you’d like).

Note that there is an additional monthly charge to make use of a custom domain. This requires some setup on our part and we incur additional costs to purchase a SSL certificate for your domain and for dedicated IP addresses.

If you’re interested, or for more details, please contact us.

Simpler login URLs

Upgrading our infrastructure has given us some additional capabilities that we didn’t have before. We’ve now been able to simplify the addresses of your login page and those of your clients (the old addresses still work too). You can now just tack on your client ID to the domain used.

If your client’s ID is ‘yourclient’, their login page can now be accessed at ‘lms.firmwater.com/yourclient’. (Previously, you would have to use ‘https://lms.firmwater.com/lms/?cid=yourclient’.)

This works if you’re using a custom domain as well. Your client’s login page would be accessed at ‘lms.yourcompany.com/yourclient’.

Improved reporting

Reporting now uses an updated platform, allowing for better support from all browsers and, in many cases, improved report execution times. Users will no longer experience application time outs while interacting with reports for long periods of time. We’ve also organized the list of reports into menus to make it easier to find similar reports.

Along with making improvements to several of the existing reports, we also added two new reports:

  • Interaction Data Report: Export of the SCORM interaction data saved per user attempt. Some content saves question response data to the LMS through this mechanism.
  • Location List: Lists all locations and the number of users for each.

Other new features and enhancements

A few more of the new features and enhancements include:

  • Support for taxes when making purchases through the LMS.
  • Importing of locations, departments, job titles.
  • An improved file upload interface.

We hope you enjoy all the new features. To see everything that’s new, see the release notes for Version 2.12.

Version 2.11: Time limited assessments

Posted June 21, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

Tonight we released Version 2.11 of our LMS. This release adds a couple of features to our built-in assessment engine. While the features were added to meet the requirements of a new client of ours, they are features that were on our list of things to do and ones that benefit everyone.

Time limited assessments

Assessments can now have time limits. You can specify how long a user has to complete the assessment. The current time remaining is displayed to the user on every screen. When the time exceeds 5 minutes, it is updated once per minute. This approach is taken so the user can focus on responding to the questions and to minimize the distraction provided by the countdown clock.

assessment engine timer

When the time remaining is less than 5 minutes, it is updated once per second.

assessment engine timer with less than five minutes remaining

If the user doesn’t complete the assessment within the allotted time, the assessment is automatically submitted (after notifying the user appropriately).

Our assessment engine natively supports the IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) Version 1.2.1 standard. QTI allows durations to be specified at the assessment level. When authoring in QTI, you just need to add a ‘duration’ element as a child of the ‘assessment’ element. The format follows ISO 8601 for durations. As an example, 30 minutes would be represented as:

<duration>PT30M</duration>

Shuffing of responses

We also added support for shuffling of responses within an assessment. We’ve had the ability to shuffle questions — so that the order of questions are randomized for each attempt — since our first release but we weren’t able to randomize the responses within a question.

Now we can, and as QTI allows, you can choose which questions you want the responses shuffled for. Within each question, you can specify whether to shuffle all responses or only some of the responses. This is useful for when you may want to shuffle all the responses except the last “All of the above” type response.

Need help? Just ask!

If you have any questions about how to take advantage of these new capabilities, please don’t hesitate to ask us. To see everything in the new release, see the release notes for Version 2.11.

Version 2.10: Completion certificates and new reports

Posted May 15, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.10 of our LMS last night. Here’s an overview of the new features included.

Completion certificates

sample completion certificate

Sample completion certificate

This feature has come up quite a few times when talking to prospects. We’ve also heard that it would be useful to some of our existing clients so we decided to add support for it. Firmwater LMS can now generate a completion certificate for a user who has successfully completed an activity. The certificate can be customized for an organization.

You can pick and choose which of your activities that you’d like completion certificates to be available for. We’ve made this easy by allowing you to specify this individually or as a bulk operation on a group of activities.

Some organizations allow their students to print their own certificates, while others only allow administrators to print them. We let you decide who has access.

See the documentation for more details.

Individual Response Report

Individual Response Report

Individual Response Report

Administrators can now see a report that shows a user’s attempt at an assessment. The report is generated as a PDF and shows score information along with all the questions and responses with correct answers highlighted. This is accessible to administrators when drilling into a user’s training plan.

Other new reports

We also added a few new reports that might come in handy. Much of this information is available through the user interface too but it’s useful to be able to generate a report and be able to export the data to different formats.

The new reports are:

  • Clients List: Available to master administrators, this lists all clients and the number of users for each.
  • Users List: Lists all users. When exported to CSV or XML, all user fields are included. This is good way to get a CSV file to use to import back into the system.
  • Activities List: Lists all activities, can be filtered by tag.

We hope you enjoy the changes. To see everything that’s new, see the release notes for Version 2.10.

Continued...

Version 2.9: Importing users now a breeze (and more)

Posted February 4, 2009 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.9 of our LMS yesterday. The elusive 3.0 release is not far away but we wanted to get out some of the improvements we’ve made.

Importing users much improved

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 3.58.02 PM.png

New import users wizard

One major change in this release is with the process of importing users. We’ve turned it into a three-step wizard, giving much more control and feedback over the changes that will be made.

Improvements with the new process:

  • allows any column headings in the CSV file, try to match to fields in the system
  • full control on the field matching, ability to ignore columns
  • much better error reporting, ability to download error file
  • ability to download file with the passwords generated for new users
  • control over whether the data of existing users is updated or not
  • ability to see the number of changes before confirming the operation

Other improvements

Other notable enhancements in this release include:

  • Changed ordering of training plans to give greater importance to assignments. Activities from the same assignment are now grouped together and are listed in the order that they were added to the assignment.
  • Enhancements to Web Services API
  • Resolved error loading content generated using Articulate Studio ‘09

Continued...

Version 2.8: Improved assignments and more

Posted November 13, 2008 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.8 of our LMS last night. We’ve been hard on work on some more major changes that will be coming in the next release, but we thought it was time to get out some of the improvements we’ve made.

Improved assignments

The major change in this release relates to the handling of assignments. We’ve restricted the list of assignments to only those that affects users within your scope. Some of our clients have hundreds of locations and thousands of assignments. In the past, local administrators could see all assignments within their organization but only edit those that included their users. Now, their view has been simplified greatly.

We also improved on the creation and editing of assignments:

  • user no longer needs to page through all pages in the wizard when editing an assignment
  • better handling of long content/users lists in summaries
  • indicate assignments that are automatically created by the system

Other improvements

Other notable enhancements in this release include:

  • Allowing local administrators ability to manage list of participants within their scope for content and view content details
  • Improved immediate question feedback support in our assessment engine
  • Support for payment information when editing a user’s membership details
  • HTTP AICC/CMI Protocol: increase flexibility to provide support for more external LMSs
  • Web Services API improvements

You can read the release notes for Version 2.8. Enjoy.

Version 2.7: Better student view, faster search and more

Posted April 23, 2008 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.7 of our LMS tonight. It’s been four months between releases, which is longer than usual for us, however, this release is jam-packed with improvements, new features, and fixes. We feel it is worth the wait!

Better student view:

We’ve made big changes to the student’s view of the top level of their training plan. We’ve separated active items from completed activities and now present a simpler, better-prioritized presentation.

The changes will be especially appreciated by your students who have very large training plans. While most students from our clients have relatively focused training plans, we do have some organizations who assign large portions of their content libraries at some students. The new presentation significantly speeds up the display of the training plan for these students and makes it easier for them to find specific activities:

  • students can now search for activities and their plan gets filtered as they type
  • plans are presented in pages (typically 10 activities per page)

Faster searching

We significantly improved the performance of searching throughout the system. Many people love how simple and consistent searching is in our system. At times, however, searching could be slow if dealing with large data sets — thousands of people or activities.

That is now fixed. We spent a lot of time optimizing things so that search is snappy and filters the data as you type, even when dealing with lots of data. We’ve also added feedback to indicate that search is working in the cases when it takes longer than half a second to return.

More good stuff

Other notable new features in this release include:

  • Bulk deletion of activities and events
  • Reports can now be targeted at a single organization or a specific role within an organization
  • Better handling of SCORM 1.2 content, both when loading and for status roll-up
  • Ability for an administrator to specify the resource navigation to display (useful especially for SCORM 1.2 content that does not embed exit navigation)
  • Activity Detail Report which improves upon and replaces the old Group Activity Report

You can read the release notes for Version 2.7. We hope you enjoy the improvements made.

Continued...

Version 2.6 released

Posted December 22, 2007 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.6 of our LMS tonight. This release includes a number of enhancements to the Response Analysis Report, allows Local Administrators to edit participant data within their scope, and allows training results data to be retrieved using our Web Services API.

Read the release notes for Version 2.6.

Version 2.5 released

Posted December 6, 2007 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.5 of our LMS tonight. This release adds multilingual support to our assessment engine and includes a few bug fixes.

Read the release notes for Version 2.5.

Version 2.4 released

Posted September 12, 2007 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.4 of our LMS today. This release is mainly to upgrade the infrastructure of our application. For those technically minded, we’re now running on ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. This upgrade should resolve most of the rendering and export issues that some people were experiencing with reports.

Read the release notes for Version 2.4.

Version 2.3 released

Posted June 29, 2007 by Stefan Leyhane

We released Version 2.3 of our LMS early this morning. This release features many content management enhancements including support for tagging activities and for performing bulk operations against a group of activities. We also added a new Historical Login Report and improved on the existing Response Analysis Report.

Read the release notes for Version 2.3 and Version 2.3.1.