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How can you automatically update your eLearning training content in your customer’s LMS or learning platform?

We hear this question a lot. Whether your training is your primary business offering (say you create and sell web based training courses) or you provide training as part of a larger product offering, you likely spend a good deal of time and energy distributing your courses and making sure each customer has the most up to date version.

We hate to say it, but we’re not surprised. SCORM compliancy is nearly always required for you to share content with any third party system. And while the standard helps ensure compatibility and increase your market, it also makes it incredibly hard to ensure content quality and release updates. Distributing online training content looks like this:

  1. You create training, likely in a few different standards to account for your different customers’ needs.
  2. You hand over your course to your customer, which they play and track in their own learning platform (whether a Learning Management System or Learning Experience Solution).
  3. You make an update to your course and have to ask your customer to update their version.
  4. Your customer manually updates their version and distributes it to their learners.

Well, we like to be the bearer of good news!

Using an eLearning content distribution solution–which allows you to centrally host your content so it can be more easily released, managed and understood–your process could look like this:

  1. You create your training in the eLearning specification that best suits your content.
  2. You release updated versions of your content to one central location, which automatically serves that content to other learning platforms of various customers or brands.
  3. Your customer does not upload any new files into their learning platform/LMS.
  4. Your customers and learners can immediately play the latest version of your training.

The SANS Institute has found success implementing a content distribution solution. Keeping training content up to date was of great importance but very time-consuming. Using Content Controller, they’ve ensured the most current version of content is always served to learners.

The good news is that there are a few ways you can implement eLearning content distribution solutions to best suit your needs. We’re happy to help you figure out how.

 

 

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Last week we were incredibly excited to share a brand new, Content Controller case study for The SANS Institute. The case study describes the success they have using Rustici Software’s eLearning content distribution solution Content Controller to help them distribute and manage training content. When we were publishing the case study, we couldn’t help but reflect upon how wonderful they are as a client. SANS has continuously inspired us, encouraged us and collaborated with us. We’ve created a better product, and are a better company, because of them.

We started talking to SANS about their eLearning content distribution challenges two years ago during ATD ICE 2015 (Side Note: Tim will be speaking at this year’s ATD conference!). At the time, Content Controller was a glimmer in our eye. We had begun thinking about what it would mean to help companies better manage and control their content through eLearning content distribution solutions, but we hadn’t worked out what a product entailed.

We were therefore lucky to start chatting with SANS, who shared that same glimmer in their eye. At the time, SANS was struggling to effectively release version updates for their customers and they felt like there had to be a better way to manage content.

Worlds collided; the timing was perfect. Content Controller was born.

Since those first conversations, SANS has been a collaborative partner involved in the development, launch and evolution of Content Controller. We have had meetings in person to discuss product mock ups. We have picked their brains about how they use the product. We have supported feature requests inspired by their challenges.

Point of fact, SANS was the inspiration for one of our most popular features, Equivalents. SANS customers were finding it cumbersome and time-consuming to manage multiple languages of the same course. As a solution, SANS wanted to enable their customers to present a single course to a learner and let the user select their language. Equivalents solves this problem precisely and our product is better for it.

Last year, Content Controller was awarded a Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award for Best Advance in Content Management Technology. This award granted to Content Controller for revolutionizing content management and delivery could not have been possible without fantastic customers like the SANS Institute.

We are unbelievably thankful to SANS for inspiring us to create a better product and making our days more enjoyable through collaboration. And we can’t thank them enough for being champions of our company.

So, two years later, we’d like to say, “Cheers!” to SANS. We’re glad to know you and incredibly happy to work with you. Here’s to many years to come.

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We originally introduced the world to SCORM Cloud in 2009. If you count it’s predecessor, TestTrack, it dates back even earlier.  Since then, the website has remained largely untouched.  We figured it was way overdue for a change. On March 24th, 2017, we rolled out an updated SCORM Cloud user interface. Initial reviews have been fantastic!

“Loving the new @SCORMCloud #UI – nice, clean #design!” #development #scorm

“The new dashboard looks amazing.”

“The new portal is fantastic. The new layout and design looks amazing. Thank you for the hard work and effort.”

While most features have remained the same, there are a few items that have shifted around to make them easier to use- the xAPI LRS and Invitations for example.

To see more about all of the changes, check out this handy guide to navigating the new Cloud UI.

 

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cmi5

Today we’re excited to announce support for a new specification in SCORM Cloud- cmi5, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often in its history. Along with making cmi5 support readily available in SCORM Cloud, we’ve also added support for cmi5 to some of our other products including SCORM Engine and SCORM Driver.

Obviously, supporting a variety of specifications is a huge part of what we do well at Rustici Software. More than anything, though, I think it’s important for us to be conscious of, and to explain well to all of you, when and why we add support for a particular specification.

So, what is cmi5?

cmi5 is technically a profile of xAPI which means it piggy backs on top of things already well defined in xAPI, but adds specificity in others. For cmi5, this means that certain xAPI statements are required, and launch is handled in a very specific way.

For me, it’s the launch piece that’s so important. From xAPI’s advent years ago, there have been issues with launching content. In the earliest days, we at Rustici Software defined a very simple launch specification that several content vendors picked up on. It was good enough for the time being, but it wasn’t really good enough in practice.

So, over the last couple of years, many people including Bill McDonald (as Chair of the working group) and Art Werkenthin and others at RISC have put a lot of energy into considering how their AICC work could be applied to launch in the xAPI world. The result is that we have a good solution for launching content via xAPI.

Why it matters

Years ago, as we at Rustici Software and others around us started evangelizing xAPI, we made some mistakes. We talked about all of the things that could be enabled by xAPI, the things for which it was necessary but not sufficient. Over the last year or two, we’ve really started to fill in the gaps to make it sufficient as well. And while launch isn’t the dreamiest of capabilities for which xAPI is a solution, it is absolutely fundamental.

If content launch is ultimately going to transition from SCORM to xAPI, cmi5’s support for launch will be a requirement. And further, so many other activities actually benefit from having a well defined, implemented, and adopted specification for launch. So for now, we’re excited to share that Cloud now offers vendors and others a great place to test cmi5 based launchable activities. We hope this helps spur the development of many xAPI/cmi5 adopters.

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Here at Rustici Software, we’ve been spending a lot of time lately hosting SCORM Engine and Content Controller installations on behalf of our clients. And we have learned a lot of interesting lessons from the experience. I’ll be talking about hosting SCORM Engine here, but all of this stuff applies directly to Content Controller as well.

We started hosting things for folks because we realized several things all at once:

Our clients are having to spend way too much time and money to host our products themselves. We kept seeing integrations falter because of delays in provisioning infrastructure and cost issues. Finding dev/ops folks that can deploy and manage web applications is really difficult and really expensive, and so a lot of our clients were settling for inadequate deployments that didn’t scale and didn’t hold up well under pressure

Hosting web applications well is really hard. It’s not too hard to stand up a server and run Engine on it. It’s a lot harder to build a secure, highly available Engine environment that can hold up under heavy traffic spikes, scale to meet demand, and not cost a fortune.

We are really good at hosting web applications. Our experience building SCORM Cloud taught us that we’re actually really, really good at hosting web applications at scale, and it felt like we were in a great position to provide a useful service that saved our clients time, money, and hassle.

What’s a user? How many can we support?

When folks are integrating with SCORM Engine, two questions always come up: “how do I build a system that can serve X number of users?” and “I’m not really sure how many users I have, how do I spec a system based on a wild guess?”

We thought about this a great length, and decided that there are two numbers that really matter:

Concurrent Users – The number of users that the system can serve at once.
System Population – The system’s ability to serve a given annual user base.

System Population, in particular, is a number that we thought about a lot. Engine installations very rarely have every registered user of the system engaged at once. But sometimes (like right before a deadline) they all pile on at once, so we designed our Managed environments to be able to grow and shrink so that they can meet peak demand without costing the Earth.

Once we figured that out, we went and locked ourselves in a dungeon laboratory*  for a few weeks and ran load tests against every kind of setup we could think of. We came out of that with a set of system specs that we could look at and say, “yup, this will do the job for X Concurrent Users and Y System Population, and here’s what it will cost to make it go.”

Value

When we looked at the economics of our clients hosting a robust, production-quality web application, it was clear that the cost of the computer hardware wasn’t the problem. Nor was datacenter space, bandwidth, storage, or any technical bits. It was the human beings and human intelligence needed to build and maintain that were our client’ greatest cost and most scarce resource.

When you add it all up, the annual costs for hosting a production-quality web application that is going to serve a population of 50,000 users quickly goes north of $150,000. That’s too much. Way too much.

Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of people here at Rustici that do this kind of thing all day long and are really good at it, which lets us provide Galaxy-class Managed Hosting of our products at a fraction of what it would cost our clients to host themselves. We can provide a production quality, geographically redundant, highly secure, zero-touch Managed environment for under $35k annually. That’s a huge savings in time, money, and effort. To get an idea of what it might cost using our services to host your instance of Engine or Content Controller, check out our fee schedule.

So, when considering Engine or Content Controller, remember that you have options when it comes to who handles the deployment. We’re here to help. Just ask.

 

 

*Well, it was more like a nice sunny office with hot coffee, snacks, and ping-pong, but a dungeon sounds way cooler.  

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