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The parallels between television and elearning are abundant. I mean, who doesn’t love sitting down on a Friday night to watch the best elearning they couldn’t get to all week?

Really, though, there are plenty of legitimate parallels, and one of the things I like is watching elearning evolve in similar ways to television/movies, albeit a few years behind.

One fashion in which that evolution has occurred is the actual delivery mechanisms.

1. Video Industry

1. Elearning Industry

film-reel
“Let’s go to the movies!”

People gathered together in a movie theater to see the film of the day. It was a compelling shared experience, and allowed each participant to see something they hadn’t before. For the studio, this provided scale that far exceeded that of a stage play. For many attendees, though, this meant that seeing the movie was incredibly expensive or completely impossible. And one crying baby could ruin the experience for everyone.
instructor-lead-training
In Person Training

Like the movies, people gathered in a single location to learn together. Unfortunately, this meant that everyone had to be gathered together in the same place, at the same time, and probably at great expense to the company providing the training. Rather than teaching each person individually, the subject matter expert could teach several people at once. For many learners, though, this meant that the training was either inaccessible or hugely inconvenient. And one cry baby could ruin the experience for everyone.

2. Video Industry

2. Elearning Industry

vhs
“Blockbuster”

“I want to watch Goonies tonight. At 7:45pm. And eat pizza. On a couch.” It required a trip to something called a “video store”, wherein you hoped to find the specific movie in stock that you wanted to watch. And that was a real risk. The beauty of it, though, is that if they had your movie, you were in control. Start time? That’s up to you. Location? Your choice as well. And the world was your oyster as far as what you were eating and drinking and sitting on. Several beloved standards helped this work. VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc, DVD… these standards allowed us to buy machines for home that knew how to play whatever movie we brought home.
scorm
SCORM Package Delivery

Yes, learners could now watch content in an LMS when and where they wanted. This was a big leap. Barriers of travel and cost were substantially reduced. But getting a specific piece of content into your system wasn’t really possible until SCORM allowed for it in the early 2000s. With the advent of SCORM, learners were now able to consume widely varied content from their desk at work or at home. And subject matter expertise was available at a scale that was inconceivable in the instructor led training world.

3. Video Industry

3. Elearning Industry

itunes
iTunes

One online store with all the movies and tv shows and all I have to do is click a button!? When streaming became a reality, we no longer had to leave the house to acquire the content, and we didn’t have to worry about whether someone else had claimed that movie first. There were just so. many. options. And finding a movie to watch became less of a problem. Instead, finding the right movie to watch was a challenge. How do you curate an massive pile of movies?!

content-consolidator
Content Consolidator

Companies like Skillsoft and Mindleaders before, and Open Sesame today, have collected massive libraries of content from which companies and learners can choose. Finding a relevant piece of content gets easier all the time, and it can be procured at a known price in a matter of minutes. Compatibility has become less of a concern (although Skillsoft’s OLSA standard isn’t exactly that). Learners and companies alike have access to great quantities of quality content, and subject matter experts have a easy and convenient way to get it to them.

4. Video Industry

4. Elearning Industry

netflix
Netflix

Today’s Netflix is fundamentally different from prior delivery models in several ways:

Netflix’s “all you can consume” model allows a customer to pay one price per month and watch lots of varied content at their leisure. Viewers can try a show with no risk, move amongst them freely, and watch as much as they want. Shows can be released in their entirety on a given day, rather than strung out over months. Advertisement is no longer a part of the equation.
Netflix also provides their own content. They are creators as well as distributors. Shows like House of Cards, Bloodlines, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt show a care and crafting that isn’t necessarily present in commodities acquired from other providers. Netflix has a clear incentive to create groundbreaking content. If they build remarkable content, then their customers will stay and new ones will join in.
Netflix has every reason to make their user experience better. If their app is easier to use than NBC’s, then Netflix benefits, and they get more viewers, customers, and money.
content-controller
Content Controller

Invested content providers who can centralize their content have distinct opportunities from other providers.

They can correct, analyze, and assess their content in a way that others can’t. By centralizing the content, they can see how it’s being used across clients. They can assess questions and their efficacy, they can discover and correct mistakes, and they can evolve content directly.
Providers can manage versions and deployments much more effectively.
Providers can explore possibilities like offering a subject matter expert to multiple clients via online chat or something similar.
More than anything, though, it puts the content provider in a closer relationship with the learner and the customer. Rather than throwing a piece of content to the wind and hoping, the content provider has visibility and a manner in which they can affect the relationship.

Content Controller is the next-generation method of delivering content. It’s the elearning equivalent of what Netflix is to the video industry, and we’d love to talk to you about it. Learn more at the Content Controller web page, and get in touch with us if you have questions.

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We see two distinct ways to innovate learning standards. One is to push the community forward by developing and evangelizing emerging standards. We do this all the time. The other is to create and deploy new approaches around existing standards.

Our SCORM Engine powers content launch for the vast majority of LMSs in the world. Our SCORM Driver is used by all but one of the largest rapid authoring tools and countless content creators.

Today we’re announcing Content Controller. We believe that content providers have been underserved. Limitations imposed by SCORM have discouraged innovation that can help them realize the value of their compelling content.

ContentController

Many industries have transitioned to “as a Service” models. Software as a Service is quite familiar, and Infrastructure as a Service and Platforms as a Service are well on their way too. In each case, customers are able to leave more of the problems to their providers, and providers are able to iterate much more quickly and proficiently than their customers. Providers are also able to generate long term recurring revenue by this model.

In the elearning world, content has long been deployed physically, as digital assets, from content provider to customer. While this has long been required by SCORM’s architecture, it also created real issues.

  • LMSs are prone to have duplicate and out of date content.

  • Customers are liable to use content well beyond its licensed period and/or licensed number of learners.

  • Content providers are blind not only to the utilization of their content, but to the value of it.

Content Controller addresses all of these issues by allowing the content provider to host their content centrally while deploying it for use by their customers. Built on top of our existing SCORM Dispatch product (meaning this is well vetted), Content Controller circumvents SCORM’s limitations to allow both provider and customer to have what they need. This allows Content Controller customers to offer Content as a Service (CaaS).

Content Controller provides version management, license management, content analytics, and sophisticated equivalencies that allow content owners and their customers to do things they haven’t previously.

I’m really excited about this product personally because I think some of the best creative work in our industry is being done by content providers. This will allow those companies to take proper advantage of their unique abilities. We’ve developed this initial version of Content Controller in conjunction with four customers, and the first of the deployments are live and have already delivered tens of thousands of launches. This is just the beginning.

Tim

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A while back, we introduced some new software development kits that work with mobile apps and SCORM Engine to allow you deliver and track SCORM content from your mobile app—even when it’s offline.

We’ve just taken it a step further, with a new SDK that lets users download and take SCORM courses from their desktop/laptop, even when a network connection isn’t available.

desktop-offline-scorm

Whether you have a Windows or OSX app, our new SDK works with your App, LMS, and the SCORM Engine to download SCORM courses, play and track them (online or offline), and send the results back to the LMS once a network connection is available again.

Click here to learn more about desktop/offline SCORM, or get in touch if you’d like to have a conversation about it.

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There are many organizations that have multiple LMSs, and many of them have the same problem—they wish they had just one LMS, with all of their data in one place.

With Watershed LRS and SCORM Engine (or SCORM Cloud), we now have an easy solution for this, and it works for SCORM and Tin Can courses. It doesn’t even require any custom integration work.

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You don’t have to wait for content players to catch up! If you’re creating Tin Can courses but getting frustrated by the limited number of players that can actually launch and report on them, here’s some great news:

SCORM Cloud’s Dispatch service has a new feature that enables a SCORM-only LMS to handle Tin Can packages—without losing reporting data.

How is that possible?

First, you have to understand how SCORM Cloud Dispatch works. Tin Can data is collected throughout the activity experience and stored in your CLOUD LRS. Once the user exits out of the course, the Dispatch updates the client LMS with the user progress in the form of SCORM data.

Tin Can Dispatch

Why would I want to use this?

While the number of Tin Can conformant LMSs is growing, many LMSs are still in transition. Dispatch allows for an immediate way to launch Tin Can activities in LMSs that only support SCORM. You don’t have to be limited to SCORM-only courses while you wait for LMSs to catch up!

Content Creator Benefits:

  • There are now more types of courses you can distribute to customers
  • You can now maintain detailed Tin Can statements in Cloud while still satisfying clients’ SCORM reporting needs

LMS/Client Benefits:

  • You’re no longer limited to SCORM-only courses
  • You can continue to receive SCORM-conformant reporting data

Where do I sign up?

It’s available now, so try it out! We even have free trial accounts to help you get started. To learn how to create a Tin Can Dispatch, go here.

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