Rustici Software's
SCORM Blog

Subscribe

 Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:


Archive


Tweets by Tim Martin



Topics

Authors

Rustici Software awarded CLO Award

We are thrilled to share that Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine announced the winners of the 2017 Learning in Practice Awards and Rustici Software won a Bronze Award for Excellence in Technology Innovation! Our submission recognized the work the SANS Institute has done using Content Controller to update their content distribution strategy. We are very thankful they allowed us to highlight their story and thrilled to consider these industry leaders our clients.

The SANS story

SANS’s use of Content Controller is an interesting story in and of its own, which we have explored in the SANS Content Controller case study. But to submit the award we also dug into the overall landscape. The difference between what SANS is doing to distribute content and what the industry has historically done is pretty staggering.

The Learning Management System (LMS) marketplace is expected to be valued at $7B/year by 2018 and is primarily split into two deployment models: on-premise and SaaS. LMSs have been supporting off-the-shelf eLearning content via third-party content providers since 1997. The model may appear simple: content providers license (for a certain number of users usually) courses to client who then access content via their own LMS. But this twenty-year old model has inherent flaws: content creators have found a lack of license control, a risk of inaccurate content, multi-language pain and a lack of data regarding course engagement.

The SANS Institute has solved these traditional challenges by shifting their distribution model. Using Content Controller, SANS centrally hosts their content to easily deliver the latest, most accurate content to learners and streamline their license admin. They’ve seen a 90% reduction in time spent updating existing content, saving $100K in employee costs per year. If you want to learn more about their story, check out the SANS case study.

Celebrating other clients who won CLO awards

In addition to our win, we were pleased to see that a number of other Rustici clients were also CLO award winners. The Learning in Practice Awards celebrate those who have crafted new and innovative education initiatives. Booz Allen Hamilton won A Silver Business Partnership Award and their Director, David Sylvester, won a Gold Trailblazer Award. Our client Grovo won a Bronze Excellence in eLearning award. Hats off to them!

No Comments | Post a comment »



How can I automatically update my eLearning training content in my 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 training content 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.

 

 

No Comments | Post a comment »



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.

No Comments | Post a comment »



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.  

1 Comment | Post a comment »



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.

No Comments | Post a comment »


Older Posts »

Browse Categories

Using the Standards

Tips, tricks and solutions for using SCORM and AICC.

Standards Evolution

Our chronicling and opinion of the evolution of SCORM.

Rustici Software

Stories about who we are and what we're up to.

Products

News about our products. Notifications of new releases and new features.

Ideas and Thoughts

Miscellaneous thoughts and ideas about e-learning, entrepreneurship and whatever else is on our minds.

Software Development

Ideas about software development and how we manage things internally.