Benefits of Experience API (Tin-Can API)

Technology standards are critical to the success of eLearning industry and projects so the learning content and data is interoperable between different systems. Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a widely accepted technical standard for online learning that was developed by the US DoD’s Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative in the late nineties.

What is SCORM?

SCORM essentially defines the relationship between course components, data models, and protocols so that content “objects” are sharable across systems that conform to the SCORM model. The various versions of SCORM offer the benefits of packaging content and exchanging data at run time.

SCORM has been designed for online learning between a single user and the learning system. It offers standardization of learning content packaging and its delivery. The latest version, SCORM 2004, also offers a sequencing and navigation option. However, SCORM is a reference model and not really a standard and it has many limitations. Tracking of users is limited with SCORM and it can only handle web-based lessons delivered through a web browser, limiting the possibility and flexibility of learning through mobile or other modern devices.

The Advent of TinCan API or xAPI

More recently, ADL developed TinCan API (now known as Experience API or xAPI for short) under Project Tin Can to provide a better and more improved platform for online learning. xAPI facilitate data interoperability between learning systems, enterprise systems and more dynamic, flexible, and engaging content without many of the limitations of SCORM or other learning specifications.

With xAPI, there has been a great shift and flexibility in the way online learning works. Content resources can reside anywhere and do not need to be located at the same domain or server as the Learning Management System (content delivery systems). So you can have learning resources on your mobile (for example, as a downloadable mobile app) or any website. Additionally, it is now possible to report multiple scores, obtain detailed test results, and also have improved security of data. Experience API can track any learning experience without a web browser or internet connection, opening up limitless possibilities for learning on the go.

Tracking of a user’s (or multiple users’) learning patterns or behavior is simple and quick with xAPI. Moreover, the tracked data is portable and the activity records can be stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS). This LRS can then be integrated with an LMS or other systems in the organization, making the learning experience more meaningful and quantifiable. In fact, the tracking capability of xAPI can include all learner experiences and experiential data can be easily collected from social media, job locations, classrooms, apps, performance tools, and knowledge bases, to name a few.

The blended learning and adaptive learning domains are gaining immensely by leveraging xAPI. xAPI can support existing SCORM use cases as well as enable use cases that were difficult to meet with SCORM. Mobile learning and access of content from anywhere is possible with xAPI’s dynamic features.

While Experience API (xAPI) is not the most comprehensive eLearning content and learning systems technical specification, but ability to communicate learner’s activities and experiences flexibly is a step in the right direction.

Responsive Design in eLearning | Delivering eLearning Content for a Multi-device World

Would you like to deliver eLearning that only works on One Device or on Multiple Devices?

The New Rule is responsive eLearning design – “One version that works on all devices

What is “responsive design?”

When used about technology in 2013, “responsive” means that a program, website, or application works on any device you want to use, without any extra effort on your part. Since we started using smart phones, and then tablets, you as a user had to download different versions of a program to your phone, your tablet, and your PC. These different applications rarely worked exactly the same on each device. Sometimes, they behaved very differently. Sometimes, text was tiny, or images were too large, or you only saw the menu and not the content.

If it was a headache for you as a user, can you imagine what a headache it was for the developer? In addition to phones, tablets, and computers, developers had to create programs all over again for Windows, Android, and the Apple systems! Sometimes, a provider like Instancy had to keep track of NINE different versions of their software and eLearning content!

Authors developing eLearning content had similar challenges, making sure their e-courses were designed for the systems that learners used.

Now, Instancy has implemented intelligent responsive design, so that eLearning courses created on Instancy Learning Content Management System (LCMS) and delivered through the Instancy platform are offered in appropriate formats for the devices used by your learners.

HTML5:  not a magic bullet

HTML is one of the languages that makes the internet work. It controls how words and images are displayed on your browser screen.

HTML5, the newest version of this language, allows web-based applications like Instancy to work seamlessly across all your devices. Interactive content provided inside these applications, such as audio and video files, will play on your device the same way it plays on your laptop.

However, taking advantage of the responsive design features supported by HTML5 is not as easy as flipping a switch. Responsive design suggests that content be displayed appropriately on the target device, not simply resized for a small screen. For example, Apple devices won’t display Flash-based animation, so content delivered by Flash must be provided in a different form.

This is an enormous change, although our end users may not ever notice that their applications work better across the multiple devices they use to access mobile learning.

We in the eLearning industry have already seen the benefits. However, we think that it is the Instancy Authoring Tool users who will really notice and be able to benefit from responsive design as implemented in Instancy. Thanks to HTML5, learners will be able to enjoy interactive eLearning content across all their devices. The door is open for the next revolution of our industry: the mLearning (for Mobile Learning) revolution.

Enable Dynamic Content Resizing

Figure 1: Enable Dynamic Content Resizing

To begin taking advantage of what HTML5 and Intelligent Responsive Design can do for your course development work, use the new Enable Dynamic Content Resizing option within the Instancy Authoring Tool. Thanks to this new option, your eLearning content will be automatically resized to fit any of the multiple devices your learners use.

We have already implemented the new technology in the learning management system (LMS). All devices (PC/Laptop browser, Tablet or Smartphone) can access the LMS. Once your course is uploaded to the catalog, it will be accessible on all devices without any additional work on your part.

In the image below you can see how the catalog page adapts to desktop, iPad and iPhone

Responsive Design for Learning Management System Interface

Figure 2: Responsive Design for Learning Management System Interface

 

Example of Responsive Design

Figure 3: Example of Responsive Design. 

Notice in the figure above that the image is automatically sized correctly for the screen, rather than cropped the way it might have been before HTML5.

At Instancy, we will continue to add HTML5-based innovations throughout our system.  If you’d like to learn more, please contact us at info@instancy.com If you simply want to stay on top of what we’re doing, sign up for our newsletter at the link to the right.

 

Mobile Learning Native Application Development Update

The Instancy Learning Platform has been updated and released as a native app (Instancy Mobile Learning Native App) that can be installed on mobile devices, in both Android and Apple formats.  This app connects with a cloud-based server and allows users to manage registration, browse a catalog of learning and performance support content, their My Learning, Profile, and Progress pages.

Instancy Mobile Learning Native App appears on the device app menu just like any of the other apps your users have downloaded and installed.
Instancy Mobile Learning Native App appears on the device app menu just like any of the other apps your users have downloaded and installed.

 

The app will work the same way on tablets.

The Instancy Mobile Learning Native App for smartphones and tablets offers several advantages over the mobile web application (Instancy learning platform is also available as a mobile web application).  The Native app allows users to download a complete course package and access the content on their device.  This gives them the freedom to use the content without the bother of slow download times if they have a low-bandwidth connection or are using their device while travelling, when they can’t connect to the internet.

Similarly, users with limited data plans do not have to worry about overages or throttling.  They can download the digital learning content on a wifi connection, and consume it at their leisure without additional data downloads.

Learners can receive push notifications on their mobile device, letting them know that a reminder, course update, or other message is waiting for them when they connect to the server the next time.

Instancy Mobile Learning Native App can deliver many types of content:
 

  • Learning Modules – including interactive multimedia content that support one or more learning objectives
  • Learning Tracks – collections of one or more Learning modules, together with its associated references, assessments, resources, and sometimes scheduled events, both in-person and virtual. Learning Tracks are equivalent to “curricula”
  • Media Resources – audio and video files that support your learning modules
  • Documents – such as MS Word files, spreadsheets, presentations, and PDFs
  • References –links to external learning resources such as other apps, videos, audios, eBooks, web pages, etc.
  • Events –either (i) a physical class where attendees meet face to face at a specified location or (ii) a virtual class or webinar. (Events can be synchronized with the calendar app on the user’s device.)
  • Assessments –tests or quizzes used to evaluate Learner’s skill or knowledge
  • Performance support content or knowledge nuggets that can help learners make use of what they have studied on the job
Instancy Mobile Learning Native App showing list of documents associated with a Learning Track.  Most major document file formats are supported.
Instancy Mobile Learning Native App showing list of documents associated with a Learning Track. Most major document file formats are supported.

 

This pair of screen shots, on a phone and a tablet respectively, show some of the detailed video based content from within a learning module.
This pair of screen shots, on a phone and a tablet respectively, show some of the detailed video based content from within a learning module.

 

More examples of the different page types within learning modules that can be accessed through the Instancy Mobile Learning Native App.
More examples of the different page types within learning modules that can be accessed through the Instancy Mobile Learning Native App.

 

Examples of assessment content delivered through Instancy Mobile Learning Native App.  The device’s touch-screen and keyboard features are enabled in this app, allowing the user to respond to the questions.
Examples of assessment content delivered through Instancy Mobile Learning Native App. The device’s touch-screen and keyboard features are enabled in this app, allowing the user to respond to the questions.

 

Including brief assessments into the course material helps users verify that they have mastered the material in real time.  If they discover that they don’t understand a concept, they can review the material before stumbling onto the next modules.

Courses and Content can be downloaded

The advantage of the native app is that it allows users to download all documents, media, learning and performance support content to their device.  This means that they can use it when the internet is not available.  It also allows users who have limited data plans to download content when they are connected to wifi, and use it when they are not within reach of wifi, without incurring additional data charges.

In the native app, the user’s “My Learning” menu shows a download button.
In the native app, the user’s “My Learning” menu shows a download button.

 

If the internet is not available or is blocked when a user logs in, only those courses that have already been downloaded will be accessible through the native app interface.

The app will track the learner’s course progress while the device is offline, and then sync the next time the device connects to the internet.

Offline progress is synced when the device connects to the internet.
Offline progress is synced when the device connects to the internet.

 

Similarly, any updates to the course material itself will be held for the next available time the device connects to the internet.

Learning Administration

 

Learning Administration
Learning Administration

 

Course progress from the native app is aggregated the same way progress from active on-line users is collected.

Conclusion

 

The new Instancy Mobile Learning Native App allows Learning Administrators to provide just in time learning and performance support to all of your learners and knowledge workers.  Furthermore, the easy-to-use administration controls allow you to personalize the learning content for each user or group of users.

Future updates will allow course designers to take advantage of geolocation and voice activation features on the devices and incorporate this functionality into learning and performance support content.

Learners who spend the bulk of their time at a desk using a PC and learners who commute or travel and who can only access learning content outside regular work settings have the same access to all of the content your enterprise offers to them.

All from an integrated One Mobile Learning App – Instancy Learning Platform Native App.

 

Mobile Learning Management System Makeover

The Instancy Mobile Learning Management System (Mobile iLMS) was released today with a new user interface. Mobile iLMS comes in two flavors – Mobile Web App (requiring no download from an app store) and a Native App that can be downloaded from an App store. In this post, we’ll talk about the Mobile Web App; more on the Native App in our next article….stay tuned.

What is a Mobile Learning Management System?

A Mobile Learning Management System provides your learners with a single on-demand learning portal and gateway, on the mobile devices (phones and tablets) that they are using today..

A mobile LMS lets your learner community use all the features of your LMS on their portable devices.  Learners can search for and enroll in classes, and report their progress.  More importantly, learners can take courses and engage with instructors and other students on their devices.  Learners can view video, audio, documents, tests and assessments and online courses. Each learner can follow a personalized learning track, if that is the way your system is set up.

In other words, a mobile LMS lets your users do everything they used to need a PC for, on their phone or tablet.

Mobile iLMS new interface updates the entire learner experience.

 

Sign-up with Social Login

By enabling social login, you can make the registration process easy. New users can sign-up with their Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter IDs, instead of  asking them to set up yet another new profile and new login credentials to remember.

Sign-up with Social Login

 

Side Menu Navigation

The menu navigation now offers easy to use side navigation that may accessed from anywhere in the mobile iLMS App. This solves the problem of having many menus on the main app screens that take away much screen space. Users can see where they are and where they can go.

Side Menu Navigation

 

Content Purchasing Made Easy

If your implementation of the mobile iLMS supports retail sales, the new mobile interface makes the process of buying learning content easier for your clients.

A new shopping cart icon shows the number of items in their shopping cart. Learners can access the shopping cart at any time from catalog listing or from the content details page. Also, users have the choice of paying online with a credit card option or offline (with a purchase order, check, etc.).

Content Purchasing Made Easy

 

Browsing Content by Category

Users can filter learning content by categories and sub-categories. The “tree view” category structure helps users browse content easily.

Browsing Content by Category

 

Alphabetical “People Listing”

The “People listing” interface has been improved to search people by alphabetic order. Users can just scroll down to see users’ names by letter of the alphabet.  Names can be sorted by first name or by last name.

Alphabetical "People Listing"

 

Improved Catalog Interface

The catalog interface has been redesigned to keep easy navigation in mind. Items in the next page of the catalog are loaded when users reach the end of the scroll. This approach reduces bandwidth consumption and loads catalog items faster

Improved Catalog Interface

 

We are excited about the new Mobile iLMS features and usability.  You can continue to expect innovation from Instancy as we make our entire system easier for both your learning users who consume your learning content, and for your management and support teams who acquire, create and provide this content to your community.

 

Learning Management System New User Interface Features

Instancy re-released its flagship product, the Instancy Learning Management System (iLMS), with a new user interface to support multiple browsers and multiple languages. New and current clients can use the new interface in April, 2013.

The iLMS received a major overhaul of the user interface, which makes the entire application much easier to use.

Instancy LMS’ new Home Page

Instancy LMS’ new Home Page
Instancy LMS’ new Home Page

 

Browse Catalog

Action links have been improved across all the Administrative areas by removing multiple pop-up browser windows, which have been replaced pages that appear as overlays on the browser window. The new interface makes it easier to manage content, from both the administration (uploading) and the user (downloading and consuming) sides.

Browse Catalog
Browse Catalog

 

Portal Design Options 

The new user interface is cleaner with neutral color and is streamlined for ease of use. In addition, straightforward website design choices allow administrators to customize the look-and-feel of their own installation of the portal. These tools are as easy to use as other familiar tools like WordPress. Users can add corporate or institutional branding elements to make the portal integrate seamlessly with other websites.

Portal Design options
Portal Design Options

 

User Administration

The menu structure has been improved to consolidate the user and content administration under a single Administrator role.

You can organize users in groups or build group hierarchies, such as regions, departments, schools or classes

User Administration
User Administration

 

User Reporting 

The graphical reports help you visualize learning progress and completion at a specific learner, course, user group or entire site level.

User Reporting
User Reporting

 

Read More…