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Content Controller v2.0 updated UI

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about Content Controller since we started working on it back in 2015: feature requests, bug reports, criticisms and praise. We also have conversations with customers and potential customers about what problems Content Controller solves for them and where it falls short. This feedback is valuable because it tells us where we should focus our efforts to improve our software. There is one criticism that we’ve heard very frequently: performing routine tasks in the UI requires too much clicking. So with Content Controller v2.0, we’ve tried to do something about it.

Consider a common scenario: You’ve just signed on a new client who needs access to your entire course library under your popular “10,000 learners per course, per year” plan, and now you need to add all of those courses to the new client’s Content Controller account. This is a daunting endeavor with Content Controller v1.2, because you’d need to add each course individually, clicking through the same dialog and selecting the same options for each. With two license limits (a learner limit of 10,000 and an expiration date one year in the future), that works out to about 13 clicks per course. With library of hundreds of courses, you’d be in for a long, boring day of clicking. Content Controller has long had an API that can be used to automate this sort of task, but clearly some improvements were needed for our UI users.

So what’s changed in Content Controller v2.0? For one, we’ve added license templates so you can define a set of limits with a descriptive name, and then quickly apply the template when adding courses to an account. We’ve also added autocompletions and tag support to Content Controller’s search bars, so you can more easily find the courses you’re looking for.

But most importantly, we’ve replaced the UI for adding courses to an account with an entirely new UI that allows you select your entire course library, or just a subset, and add all of the selected courses at once while applying the same license limits to each. Populating an account with your entire course library, no matter how large, takes as few as nine clicks with the new UI in Content Controller v2.0. If you have 100 courses in your library, that’s a 99% reduction compared to Content Controller v1.2.

This isn’t the only improvement we’ve made in Content Controller v2.0 (see the release notes for a full list), but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s the one that will have the biggest impact for day-to-day use. But we can’t know that for sure until we start getting feedback from users. If you’ve tried out Content Controller v2.0, and think of ways we could make it better, let us know! We want to hear from you.

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As a recent Rustici Software hire, I’ve been impressed to see that the spirit of collaboration we so actively promote in our office also extends to how we work with our clients.

The case is made in the collaborative relationship we have with D2L, who wanted to make their Brightspace LMS 508 Compliant. While SCORM Engine has never needed to be compliant itself, it is a building block for other eLearning applications and it’s important for us to provide the accessibility features our customers need. That way, our clients can confidently provide the support they desire for their customers! When D2L wanted to improve Engine’s player so it could more easily cooperate with screen readers, we were game.

Throughout the process, we worked closely with two Quality Assurance Analysts at D2L who made a big impact on us. Their team is passionate about creating the most positive user experience possible. As a result, they provided us with great advice and resources (if you’re looking for resources, we would highly recommend this Section 508 Checklist and Deque’s aXe for testing).

The thing that made the biggest difference for us, however, was the help we received from one of D2L’s QA analysts, who is blind. She was able to show us exactly how she used Engine’s player and what needed to be improved. When we shared the final revision with her and she cried because she was excited to be able to use the platform for learning…well, it pretty much made our year.

As we have worked on updating, changing and improving Engine’s user interface, we’ve also been able to make significant changes to the way we structure Engine’s player so it can more easily cooperate with screen readers. We redid the Player’s menu, buttons and navigation so that VoiceOver can now read them properly. We also updated Engine so that Landmarks (this is like a shortcut popup that allows users to quickly navigate to pages) get properly populated.

Learn more about the additional changes made to Engine in the 2017.1 release here. And if you have any questions about 508 compliance in eLearning or want to talk to us about an upgrade, just contact us.

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cdn-content-distribution-network

Occasionally, our customers have run into problems that need to be solved by placing their learning content… somewhere far away from their LMS. Folks in the eLearning industry know that this has historically been a sore spot for SCORM. Over the years, we’ve helped our customers solve these problems with SDXD or Central / Remote when possible. However, over the last few years we’ve seen an ever growing need to make our SCORM solutions work for customers who need to use a Content Distribution Network (CDN) to deliver learning content.

Why, and when, do LMSs need to use a CDN? The short version: using a CDN allows LMSs to put high bandwidth web assets closer to the learner in order to reduce the time it takes for learners to download and view courses. If you host your LMS in the U.S. but serve a global population, this is a capability you’ll want to investigate further. Using a CDN can help because it allows your customers in remote locations to load your eLearning content from a location in their own geographic region.

Our old solutions were great for solving a variety of problems but weren’t very helpful for customers who wanted to make use of modern, commercialized CDN solutions. To address this need, we spent the last six months developing two different ways in which customers can use our SCORM Engine solution in a CDN. SCORM Engine 2017.1 includes integrated support for Amazon’s S3 content storage and Amazon CloudFront. This support is built right in and can be easily configured during installation or upgrade for customers using AWS as their hosting provider.

To help customers who use other CDN solutions, like Microsoft Azure, Akamai, Rackspace or something else entirely, we’ve re-architected the way our client-side SCORM implementation works. These changes enable customers to host our JavaScript files on the same CDN they use for hosting their content files. The client side files will then be delivered by that same CDN. Enabling you to move your courseware closer to your learners.

You can check out the technical documentation for SCORM Engine 2017.1 here.

Reach out to us if you want to learn more or would like to schedule an upgrade: support@scorm.com.

 

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We are excited to announce that the latest version of SCORM Engine–SCORM Engine 2017.1–is now available!

The release includes a bunch of new, awesome updates, which we highlight below. Plus, we launched Managed Hosted Services this year. So if you’re looking to take some hosting burden off your shoulders, that’s something we can help with now.

New releases are always included in your licenses, so there aren’t any additional fees. If you’re interested in scheduling your upgrade, the best thing to do is contact your Account Manager or email us at support.

Now, without further ado, the latest features…

New Features in SCORM Engine 2017.1

Integrated Support For Amazon’s S3 Storage & Cloudfront CDN

Engine now provides built-in support for the Amazon AWS environment, which allows you to securely store your courses in Amazon’s S3 data store. Using Amazon Cloudfront, you can make courses available to users more quickly. Learn more about distributing eLearning via CDN.

Remote Content Hosting and Launching

We’ve done a bunch of work to better support customers who need to host their content in a remote location (non-Amazon content store, a CDN solution, etc.). If you think this is a feature you’d benefit from, reach out to us, we’d love to talk through your use case with you.

Improved, Responsive Player UI

We’ve continued to enhance the design and layout of the new SCORM Engine Player UI, which we released in Engine 2016.1. Now, Engine’s player is fully responsive and very mobile-friendly. See the difference in Engine player’s functionality on Zendesk.

xAPI Conformance

ADL officially released the xAPI Conformance Test Suite and (Good news!) Engine is xAPI conformant. Using Engine as your LRS will help your product pass the xAPI Conformance Test Suite and enable you to be on ADL’s list of Conformant LRSs.

Accessibility Improvements to Support Customers Pursuing 508 Compliance

For those pursuing 508 compliance, our latest improvements help ensure our application provides the accessibility features you need. In particular, we have made significant changes to the Engine player UI to more easily cooperate with screen readers.

Expanded PENS Support

We added expanded Package Exchange Notification System (PENS) support to account for updates made to emerging standards like the Experience API and cmi5. Now, Engine supports content types in PENS of “cmi5,” “xapi” and “tcapi.”

If you’re looking for more technical insight into the release, check out our SCORM Engine 2017.1 technical documentation.

Reach out to support@scorm.com if you’d like to schedule your upgrade or if you have any questions! New releases are always included in your licenses, so there aren’t any additional fees. If you’re interested in scheduling your upgrade, the best thing to do is contact your Account Manager or email us at support.

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I can’t think of a single LMS that handles language support elegantly. Yes, many of them have a setting whereby a person who speaks another language can reconfigure the interface to reflect their preferred language. But very few LMSs allow a learner to switch the courses offered to them from a default language to their own. Some allow an administrator to make efforts to manage this, but it is incredibly difficult as reports don’t understand that “Basic HR Training (French)” earns the same credit as “Basic HR Training (English)”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.50.30 AM

LMSs often assume that the content itself can handle this, and some pieces of content do. They embed multiple voiceover tracks, or language resources, and allow the learner to make a choice from within each course, switching to their preferred language. But this is hard to do in a single piece of content, and the reality is that almost no content vendors bother.

Truthfully, this is the kind of thing that content providers are better suited to than LMSs and their administrators. Content providers are invested in learners’ ability to grasp the material. Content providers have reason to make their content better than their competitors, whereas LMSs have less incentive to do so.

These are my beliefs:

  • LMSs should not have to understand that different courses in different languages fulfill the same requirement.
  • Learners should be allowed to take their training in the language with which they are most comfortable.
  • Content providers care more about content and its applicability than LMS vendors.
  • Content providers need to be able to use their preferred authoring environments and tools.

We built Content Controller to accommodate these beliefs. When a learner launches a course from their own LMS, Content Controller offers the learner the choice amongst the supported languages for that course. Their LMS knows nothing about the fact that there are multiple supported languages, just that it needs to launch the course.This means that the content provider can create the course using whatever tools they wish. Then, they create an equivalent in Content Controller that relates all the language variations of a course with the respective languages. The learner makes a choice during their initial launch, which can be persisted in the application, and that choice determines which variation of the course is delivered to them. The magic here is the LMS never knows any of this is happening, just that the learner has fulfilled the requirement. Meanwhile, the content provider can guarantee for their customers that their learners are taking courses in the language they understand best.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.50.55 AM

This capability in Content Controller has shifted the responsibility for learner-course/language association from the LMS, which never does it well, to the content provider, who has the ability to offer multiple languages of the same course and manage it effectively. Better for the learner, better for the LMS administrator, and better for the content provider.

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