Thursday, December 1, 2011

Add a simple pause in the middle of a slide in Adobe Presenter

This seemingly simple request turned into a frustrating search for an answer.

Adobe's Support recommends you add "Pause after each animation" from the publish advanced settings, or I alternatively you could select "Advance by User" from the Slide Manager menu.

But these don't help for inserting a simple pause in the middle of a slide, and it wasn't until I stumbled on page 18 of a PDF from the University of Calgary that I felt very silly for not knowing how to do this before.

In the AUDIO edit of all places, we can right click the time line and choose "Insert Command" to add a Wait for User pause in the middle of a slide.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goodbye *.swf hello student cheating

Adobe's business shift to focusing on producing development tools for HTML5 is fantastic. I believe there are a lot of champions and promoters of HTML5, but few realize for something like this to be fully applied and improved we need leaders like Adobe to provide us with the development environments where we can create our media without being concerned with something like writing Javascript Canvas Code.

There's just one small thing that's been on my mind however, something we've taken for granted. The SWF File format provided us with a 'reasonable' amount of security in terms of hiding answers to questions. It's far from secure, all you need is the ability to download the file, decompile it, and root through the source. However, this process for students is more cumbersome than actually just learning the material, not to mention technology that they're probably not familiar with.

As we move towards a Javascript, XML, HTML system for providing Assessments, we may find that increasingly web sophisticated students will find it easier to access answers to questions. You may not realize how quickly a determined student could root through your client side code, but any web familiar individual looking for a quick grade will find it quite easy to exploit your unsecured method of storing answers.

Tools like Quizmaker, or Captivate have provided us a fantastic way to create portable Learning Objects. Now, for reasons of security we may be forced into using our Learning Management System's proprietary Assessment Engine, limiting the shelf life and portability of our content.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Access Score Variables from an Articulate Quizmaker Quiz

I often get developers to my blog that are interested in using Articulate's Quizmaker to enhance their custom Flash based eLearning courses. I have previously written about how to load a Quizmaker quiz into your own Actionscript 2.0 swf and still report to SCORM. What if we want to do our own custom reporting? How do we access Quizmaker's score variables?

Well, assuming you've loaded the quiz into a MovieClip "_root.myContainer" here you are:

Score in % = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[7].m_nNumber
Total Points Awarded = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[2].m_nNumber

The Passing Percent = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[5].m_nNumber
The Passing Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[6].m_nNumber

Total Max Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[4].m_nNumber
Total Answered Max Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[3].m_nNumber


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Combine multiple SCORM packages into one

When moving to a new LMS you may find that it’s view of what makes up a ‘Learning Object’, ‘Module’ or ‘Course’ is quite different than what you are used to. This was the case when I was transferring content from Dokeos to Learnflex.

I had to find a way to quickly combine the modules I had exported from Dokeos (which was using learning paths) into one SCORM package. The tracking of each individual SCO was not neccesarry in this instance as it would only have a final assessment that needed tracked. My first thought was to launch RELOAD and start building a new package using all the exported files and my knowledge of the structure of the course. RELOAD however seemed to suffer from slowdown as soon as I was dealing with lots of items, I quickly became frustrated with having to wait to add a new page or module, so I began thinking about a faster way.

I loaded up a couple of exported IMSManifest files that I had exported from Dokeos. One thing I immediately noticed was that the “identifierref” attributes used in the files were numbered and unique. With that knowledge I figured the fastest way to combine Dokeos exported SCORM packages into one package was to manually cut and paste the XML files together. (or to use a script to do this that I should really just write and put online for others to use… will certainly update you if that happens) Anyways, for those proficient with XML here is what I did:

  1. The first XML file will be your starting point, wrap all the <item>’s of this manifest into one <item> tag.

    tip: replace the <organization> tag with<organization identifier=”some id”> <item identifier=”some id”>, and then replace the bottom </organization> tag with </item></organization>.

  2. For each package you wish to add, create a new <item ></item> and paste the items from that IMSManifest into your new <item> tag.

  3. For each package you wish to add copy all the <resource> information and paste into the main file’s <resources>
This will give you one giant manifest!

If this solution doesn’t help with your problem Dave Mozealous also has a solution that may be what you are looking for. See:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Missing Files from an Exported Dokeos SCO

I was working on moving content from Dokeos to Operitel’s Learnflex LMS when I noticed that there were missing assets from Dokeos’ exported packages. I was not familiar with how the original courses had been developed, if they were built offline or by using Dokeos, but for some reason or another, the course relied on assets that the Dokeos system was not aware of.

While I have not discovered why this occurred, I did find a very quick way to resolve this problem and have a working SCO that I could transfer into another LMS. The solution relied on using both Dokeos’ SCO export, and its document file export.

  1. From the learning path Export the required SCO

  2. Unzip the SCO and take the IMSManifest.xml file you’ll find inside and copy it to a new folder. You can then delete the zip you downloaded.
  3. In that new folder create a folder called "document"
  4. From the course home go to documents

    and select save (zip)

  5. Unzip all the contents and copy the files into the “document” folder you created
  6. So your new folder should have the imsmanifest file and a document folder with all your content, simply zip these together and you will have yourself a working SCO!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Improving the Modern Learning Management System

Users of any online system are constantly providing essentially data regarding their habits and needs, most Learning Management Systems are just now starting to take notice of this data to build a learning environment that follows its learner’s path through products, time spent on content, and performance on assessments to provide a system that organically adapts to the specific individual.

By moving away from a static system of delivery to a system that understands and adapts to its user’s behavior we can provide a presentation to facilitate better learning. Think about it from an in classroom environment, the Teacher knows their students and can adapt lesson plans and one on one communication directly based on the needs of the student. Alternatively, the students as a whole provide valuable feedback to the teacher regarding their understanding of the material.

Let’s evaluate a couple key specific functionalities a LMS should supply to meet this demand:

  1. Easily establish relationships from Questions to Content and report back to the learner suggestions for further reading based on their performance on course questions.
  2. Determine popular content through tracking of page hits, time spent, or user based ranking report back to the instructor this information to allow for improvement of the course.

We can expand on this through a variety of functionality, some of which has been available through SCORM but should be better incorporated into the LMS itself:

  • Time tracking - Allow the user to set the amount of time they want to spend on each lesson, provide feedback to them on how much time they have spent so far
  • Automatic Content Notifications – When new content is added to a course the LMS should automatically display this to any interested Students
  • Lesson Plan Recommendations – Using a data relationship between offered products the LMS should be able to recommend enrollment in other courses based on current enrollment and completion
  • Most recent interactions– Instead of simply content bookmarking, the LMS should be able to provide a reminder to learners of their most recent activity within the system

As a developer I can spend the time to create a SCO that stands on its own and offers most of this functionality using javascript, or even some server side code, but this functionality needs to be available globally within the LMS and should be applied either automatic or by non-technical developers of online learning with a reasonable investment of time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Excellent example of displaying statistics

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four:

Obviously something like this has a high production value, and is out of scope for most elearning development, but what can we take from this video and put into our products?

1. Enthusiasm - Like your favorite teacher, Hans enthusiasm for this subject comes through in his presentation. The more interested we can be about the subject when creating products the better the quality. It is not unlikely that you may be doing audio in your elearning products, so think about getting a narrator who's excitement for the subject can come through!

2. Visual - Although the graph on top of the video may be to flashy for most of us to create, it's not that crazy to imagine developing a flash based graph that shows these stats moving about. This graph makes use of real time and some great colors and sizes to help display a huge amount of information in a relatively simple and interesting manner.

3. Time - As a learning 'chunk' this video is fantastic. Coming in at only 5 minutes it is something that can be viewed on the go, or in between doing other work. It has a clear focus of what it is going to teach and does not get bloated or distracted along the way. Our learners can have short attention spans, especially if the subject is dry, or the power point presentation is not that flash. By keeping things short and focused we can best make use of our learners time.