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Acronym Alert! There will be many referred to in this post.

See glossary below for easy reference.

Two years ago we answered a BAA from ADL to conduct research for updating the DoDI 1322.26- “Development, Management, and Delivery of Distributed Learning.”

Spoiler Alert– ADL accepted our proposal and we were awarded a contract to dig further into what an updated Instruction might look like and how it might be implemented.

Double Spoiler Alert– The updated Instruction, DoDI 1322.26- DISTRIBUTED LEARNING (DL) just received final approval from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

A little more context

Given that the original Instruction was 10 years old and the world of DL had changed dramatically in that time, ADL recognized the need to both modernize the DoDI and understand the impact an updated DoDI would have across both the DoD and the eLearning industry as a whole. The objective of this project was to provide recommendations and edits to the draft, assess implications of the new Instruction and advise on implementation guidelines to help support the roll out of the new Instruction.

Rustici Software came into this from the unique perspective of understanding how our various government and military customers utilize SCORM today and the considerations and impact that adding xAPI to the Instruction would have to these organizations going forward.

We spent a good portion of 2016 working through the updated Instruction, interviewing key stakeholders within the DADLAC, considering policy implications with PIPS and providing guidance on how to manage xAPI conformance testing. The end result was an updated draft of the new DoDI 1322.26 which allows for procurement of various tools and technologies, including xAPI and provides for additional framework around the xAPI specification to ensure conformance and consistency across implementations of the spec.

TL;DR

The old DoDI was specific in directing entities to procure SCORM based eLearning solutions.

The updated DoDI continues to allow for SCORM and encourages “the (implementation of) the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI) and associated Learning Record Store capabilities, as practical, to enhance learning data security and interoperability.”

The wrap up

Many folks at Rustici across multiple teams were involved in this BAA- from our lead developers and SCORM technical experts to project managers and account managers.

So, when we heard the great news that the new Instruction had received final approval, we were thrilled. It means a lot to us that the work we did with ADL, PIPS, the DADLAC and others within the community has come to fruition. Even more exciting is that this new Instruction empowers those within the DoD to source the eLearning technologies that meet their needs.

Glossary

ADL: Advanced Distributed Learning
BAA: Broad Agency Announcement
DADLAC: Defense Advanced Distributed Learning Advisory Committee
DL: Distributed Learning
DoD: Department of Defense
DoDI: Department of Defense Instruction
PIPS: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
SCORM: Sharable Content Object Reference Model
TL;DR: Too long; Didn’t read
xAPI: Experience application programming interface

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Today on the xAPI working group call, ADL shared some news about their funding over the next 12 months. We’ve discussed this in more detail at experienceapi.com (because it has more impact there), but wanted to share a SCORM specific perspective here.

ADL continues to house information about SCORM on their websites, and it’s still the best place to go to understand the state of SCORM adoption and certification. It will continue to be the best place for that.

SCORM isn’t evolving much these days. It’s a solution to a narrow problem that works pretty well for most of its users. If I had to guess, I would bet that about 1% of ADL’s attention goes to SCORM. Whether that attention goes to zero or not, SCORM will continue to be a massively adopted solution to a problem millions of people have… delivering content and reporting results in an LMS.

If you have questions about SCORM, or want to adopt it, Rustici Software is still the best place to get started. Let us know if we can help you.

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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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We’ve launched a new services group.

bullseye

Some Background

For years, we have relied on our products to be the solution to a number of complex problems facing companies that use elearning standards. If you’re building an LMS or authoring tool and you need AICC or SCORM or, more recently, xAPI, we have products that can do the heavy lifting. That’s been our bread and butter.

But we also have insights from years of thinking about experiential data and hearing how customers report on it. And we know that the problem isn’t always solved at the immediate boundary of our products.

It’s those considerations that brought our services group to life.

What We Do

We help vendors and organizations consider how to use  elearning standards to accomplish their goals. These goals include delivering  learning materials to their people and selling their products to discerning buyers.

We work on problems related to the elearning standards, namely, AICC, SCORM, and xAPI.

In the case of SCORM and AICC, we can help with problems of thinking through how both historical and newly captured data could be expressed as xAPI; we can help rethink complex learning systems; and we can do sophisticated custom elearning development.

Of course we also think hard about xAPI, the newest in the family of learning standards we closely follow.

Where You Come In

We want you to ask us a question. You can learn more about how we’re responding to the questions we’ve already heard. These are things we anticipate. Maybe something on this list prompts a question you were getting ready to ask. So, ask away– we’re listening and ready to help.

 

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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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