AICC and Tin Can courseware

Where does your content live? Hosting content inside vs outside an LMS.

Often, the simplest way to add training content to a Learning Management System is to simply upload that content directly. Things are usually simpler this way. The content is stored on the server neatly inside your LMS, and things just work. When you need to replace the content, you simply re-upload. Just about every courseware technical standard including AICC, SCORM and TinCan are set up to work flawlessly this way. For many trainers, simply publishing a course from a courseware development tool in a SCORM package and loading that training directly into the LMS is a simple, perfect solution.

But what if you want your training to run in an LMS, but you don’t want to load the content directly? You may have a customer who has their own LMS, and you want to provide them with your training content, but you don’t want to completely turn over control of the material. You may want to “Link” to your content on your own server, in your own location, so that you can maintain control, and so that you can update the content at will, without needing to contact the administrators of the LMS. This can be a bit more complicated, but is still quite doable.

The AICC and Tin Can standards were built with this “remote content” scenario in mind. With both AICC and Tin Can, you can load your content to some publically available location, like a website that you control. You can then provide a file to the LMS administrator (frequently referred to as a STUB file) that does NOT contain the actual course materiel. Instead, this STUB file contains instructions for the LMS to LINK to the course at your own location.

The STUB file that you would provide to the LMS contains just about everything a normal AICC or Tin Can file would contain, including the name of the course, description and other details about the course. The only real difference is that the STUB file contains a LINK to a publicly available standards compliant course at a server location different from the LMS itself.

SCORM by default, does not allow for your training content to be hosted in a separate location from your LMS. SCORM generally communicates with your LMS by making direct JavaScript calls, which tend to be blocked by browser security from one domain to another. The issue is called “cross domain scripting”, where a file (your course) on one server is prevented from making JavaScript commands to another file (your LMS) if they reside on two different websites. There are a number of “workarounds” and “hacks” and technical “cheats” that can be implemented to make SCORM courses work in an off-site scenario, but the technical effort and expertise involved in these workarounds is usually prohibitive, especially when there are other courseware standards that work well already.

Obviously the process of hosting your content outside of your LMS presents a few additional challenges. First, you have to have access to a website or web server of your own, to post your training content. Secondly, you will have to learn how to produce a properly formatted STUB file that will tell the LMS where to find your course. Additionally, when your content is hosted in a location separate from your LMS, you will have two possible points of failure. If you website goes down, even if the LMS is functioning properly, no one will be able to access your courses.

Though the process of hosting your training content outside of an LMS is more complicated than direct loading, it can certainly be done, and done well. Just ensure that if you need to host your training content outside of your LMS, you choose the correct courseware standard, and have the resources available to host and maintain the content yourself.

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Sell access to training in EZ LCMS using group access

You probably already know that EZ LCMS enables you to sell courses using the catalog with built-in shopping cart. But did you know that you can also sell “group access”? By selling access to a group in EZ LCMS, you can allow a student to purchase access to a selected set of courses, along with a set of automatic enrollments.

When creating a group in EZ LCMS, you can easily create a “limited catalog” for the group, which means users in that group only have access to select courses. You can also assign “associations” which are courses that the user will be automatically enrolled as soon as they join the group.

When using e-commerce, you are also provided with the ability to assign a price for access to the group. Students who purchase access to this group will be able to take advantage of the “limited catalog” and the “associations” that you defined for that specific group.

Once your group is configured, you can take advantage of the “Direct purchase link” to sell the group access to your target audience. By clicking on the “dollar sign” icon next to any group, you will be given a branded “direct purchase link” that can be embedded in your own sales website, your CRM system or it can even be emailed out to potential purchasers.

Students will click your link and self-register, and can pay with credit card or PayPal. Once their payment is submitted, they are provided with instant access to your Learning Management System account, with the desired catalog and enrollments in place, as defined in the group settings. Additionally, the user is placed into the specified group for reporting purposes, allowing you to easily track purchases and course usage by group.

Selling access to groups is one of the many easy ways EZ LCMS allows you to get the right training to the right people at the right time. Give it a try for yourself, free for 15 days.

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Increase Learner Engagement with Gamification

We are very excited to announce the addition of a Gamification system to EZ LCMS. For those of you not familiar with Gamification in a Learning Management System, Gamification is the use of gaming and competition concepts in a non-gaming environment to increase engagement and participation.

Gamification in EZ LCMS includes the following new features:

  • Levels: As a student uses the Learning Management System they can accumulate points. Points can be granted automatically for completing certain tasks like completing courses, logging in a certain number of times etc. As the administrator, you will determine what activates grant points. You also have the ability to create “Levels” which allow the students to see a progression as they use the LMS more and more. For example, you may determine that a student with between 0 and 1000 points is at the “Beginner” level, and a student with more than 10,000 points is an “LMS Super User”.
  • Achievements: As the administrator, you can create any number of achievements. Achievements grant the student more points in their progression through the levels you have defined, and are listed on the student’s transcript. Achievements can be granted to the student based on:
    1. Logging in to the Learning Management System a certain number of times.
    2. Launching a set number of courses.
    3. Completing a set number of courses.
    4. Viewing a set number of resources in the LMS.
    5. Manually assigned by the Administrator or the student’s Manager

    Achievements can be granted a single time once the student accomplishes the criteria, or every time the student completes the task. For example, you may create one achievement called “New Trainee” that grants the student a bonus 100 points once they have completed their first course. You may also create another achievement called “Course GURU” that grants the student an additional 100 points every time they complete 5 courses.

  • Badges: Badges are granted for larger accomplishments in the Learning Management System, and show as actual customizable badge icons. Badges can be awarded to users for the performing the following tasks:
    1. Receiving a set number of points.
    2. Logging in to the LMS a set number of times.
    3. Launching a set number of courses.
    4. Completing a set number of courses.
    5. Completing specifically designated courses.
    6. View a set number of resources.
    7. Manually assigned by the administrator of the student’s manager.

    The EZ LCMS Badge creation process includes an intuitive and simple “Badge Builder” where you can choose a badge icon, color scheme and border scheme for the badge.

In addition to the levels, achievements and badges, a new Gamification panel is added to the student’s home page which shows the student’s current level, points, achievements and the badges they have received.

Also new to the student’s home page is the current leaderboard, showing the top four users in the LMS, with their total number of points, to encourage competition and motivation.

Gamification in EZ LCMS is a simple, rewarding way to encourage your students to stay engaged in their learning system and process. Current users of EZ LCMS can easily enable the new Gamification Features by going to the Admin > System page and choosing the “Advanced Settings” button to toggle Gamification on. Once Gamification in on, there will be a new “Gamification” tab available in the Admin role to set up the implementation for your organization. Users who create a new accounts in EZ LCMS will already have Gamification in place.

Gamification is just the latest in a long list of easy-to-use Learning Management features available to users of EZ LCMS. Try EZ LCMS for yourself Free for 15 days right here.

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Video In EZ LCMS With Bookmarking – FAQ

EZ LCMS now supports the direct upload of video as content in your online training course. Along with linking to YouTube and Vimeo videos, you can also upload your own video files directly into EZ LCMS, where they will be converted into an internet friendly, HTML5 video format automatically. Below are some frequently asked question about using video in EZ LCMS:

What video formats can I upload?

You can upload videos in .AVI, .WMV, .MOV, .MP4, .MPG or .FLV format.

Will my videos be processed/converted by EZ LCMS?

Yes, in most cases. Unless you upload an .MP4 video that is 896 pixels by 504 pixels or less in size and has a bitrate of 700 kpbs or less, then your video will be processed by our server. Your video will be converted into an MP4 format that is an optimal size and bitrate for delivery to all browsers and devices automatically.

What file size can I upload?

EZ LCMS will allow a video file of up to 250 megabytes to be uploaded directly. If you need to load a video file larger than this, you can contact us at ezsupport@ezlcms.com and arrange to have your video file loaded through FTP.

Does the student require the Flash Player / Plug-In to view my videos?

No. All video in EZ LCMS is delivered using HTML5 and does not require flash.

Will the student’s location in the video be bookmarked if they leave and return to continue the video?

YES! Unlike many other Learning Management Systems, video in EZ LCMS IS bookmarked. When your student is watching a video file in EZ LCMS, if they close the video and return later, they will be prompted to return to the location in the video where they left off.

How does a student get credit for completing a video lesson?

When the video file reaches the end, the LMS will be notified that the student has completed the lesson.

Will the video controls be displayed on the screen, allowing the student to “skip ahead”?

That is up to you. When editing the properties of your video lesson in EZ LCMS, you have the option to enable or disable the video control bar on the video. (Note: if using Vimeo, you must set the “controls” on or off in the video properties in Vimeo)

Can I use other video sites like YouTube?

Yes, your video lesson can be a video that you upload into EZ LCMS, or a link to a video on YouTube or Vimeo. Videos linked from YouTube or Vimeo will also be bookmarked and recorded as complete when the student reaches the end of the video.

Want to give it a try? You can with the EZ LCMS Free 15 Day Trial.

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Managing recurring training requirements in EZ LCMS

Training is rarely a one-time, “finish and forget it” requirement. Most training leads to skills that require upkeep. Sometimes this means that a student is required to retake the same training courses periodically to refresh their skills and re-certify. In other situations, a major training course may be followed up by refresher training at a later date, to refresh the skills and knowledge taught in the original training course.

Read more

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Buying access to a group of materials in EZ LCMS

EZ LCMS has just released our newest E-Commerce enhancement, the ability to buy access to groups. You already know about the outstanding features that a “Group” in EZ LCMS can provide, like automatic enrollments and specific limited catalogs. Now your students and customers can purchase access to your pre-defined groups, giving them automatic access to all of their features.

Before, if users wanted to purchase more than one course, they had to go to your catalog and select each course individually, using a shopping cart. The catalog that they could choose from was not limited, and students sometimes were confused about which courses to choose.

Now, with the new EZ LCMS group purchase feature, you can make this process a snap for your students by setting up group associations and limited catalogs, and selling access to that group with one single purchase.

 

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Once you have your group established and ready for sale, the LMS will provide you with a direct link where students and customers can go to see your complete group description and content. They can then purchase with a single click, and either sign-in or sign-up directly at the time of purchase.

This new group-purchasing ability is just the latest enhancement to fill out our full-range of built-in e-commerce features including:

  • A Built in Shopping Cart
  • Integration with PayPal and Authorize.net
  • External purchase catalog
  • External course purchase links
  • User self-registration

Experience this exciting new feature and much more when you sign up for the Free 15 Day trial.

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The Performance Review System in EZ LCMS

EZ LCMS now provides a means to tie student performance directly to remediation training. With the new Built-In performance review system in EZ LCMS, content administrators can build task-based performance review tools to be used by managers to evaluate their employees’ performance. Once created, each task is assigned a low, medium and high-performing behavior.

When a manager evaluates an employee, each behavior for each task can be assigned a remediation training course. As will all training courses in EZ LCMS, these may consist of online content, live training events, video, quizzes, tests, surveys and more.

Here is an example of what an EZ LCMS performance review would look like.

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complete 360 view

The EZ LCMS Performance Review system is the last piece of the complete performance-system puzzle. From start to finish, your training and performance system is easy to create, implement and manage with EZ LCMS.

Check it out for yourself with the EZ LCMS 15 Day Free Trial.

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Introducing the Learning Path

EZ LCMS has just introduced a new feature to make the process of training automation even easier. It’s called the Learning Path. A Learning Path is a tool used to build a curriculum with pre-scheduled releases of training over time, with built in re-enrollments, re-certification’s and “time release” training.

Building a Learning Path can save you a significant amount of time and effort. No more checking every week to see who is due for re-enrollments, or who has completed some pre-requisites and is ready for more training. With the EZ LCMS “set it and forget it” Learning Path tools, you build your curriculum once, and it manages itself.

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Though the concept of a Learning Path is not new, EZ LCMS has found a way to make the process of creating and implementing a Learning Path easier than ever. Never before has it been this easy to schedule training over the lifecycle of a job role or course of study. Using a “Gantt chart-like” format, you assemble your training products over time in a way that makes the process of training and advancement effortless.

Each block of training content within a Learning Path has a Scheduled Start date (number of months after enrollment) an expiration period (number of days the student has to complete the block of content) and a recertification period (frequency that the block of content must be re-completed).

Let’s use New Employee Training as an example. You may have a new hire situation where you want the student to complete the Orientation and employee handbook courses from day 1. After that, and within the first 60 days, they must complete the business practices and guidelines course. After 90 days, the student must complete the Sexual Harassment Prevention and OSHA safety curriculums. With the new Learning Path in EZ LCMS, you can simply set up this times curriculum structure one time, assign it to all new employees as they are hired, and the entire curriculum enrollment and management process I completely automated.

Another example we run into frequently is when a “first time” course is significantly larger than the recertification/refresher courses. Using Hazard Communications as an example, you can create a Learning Path with the entire 10 hour hazard communication curriculum to be enrolled on day 1, and the shorter 2 hour Hazard Communications refresher course to be automatically assigned each year after that. It’s so easy!

Try out the Learning Path and all of the other features available in EZ LCMS with the Free 15 day trial.

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Newly Enhanced Branding Capabilities

We are excited to announce that EZ LCMS has just added numerous new features to our standard branding capability. Branding (often called ‘White Label’) is the ability to change the look and feel of the system to look like “Your” LMS instead of “Our” LMS. For years EZ LCMS has provided the ability to add your own company logo, welcome messaging and header colors. Now, we have taken the branding process many steps forward and provided you the ability to change just about everything about the Look and Feel of the Learning Management System.

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You can now match your EZ LCMS account more accurately to your own (or your customers) design. Change page features like font, font colors, font sizes, background images etc. You can now change virtually every feature of the look and feel of the Learning Management System to meet your needs. As always, EZ LCMS also provides the ability to create more than one brand for your single account.

Are you a trainer that provides your training to 10 different companies? You can create 10 different brands so that each of your customers is using a Learning Management Platform and looks and feels like their very own system.

Want to go a step further with branding and automation? No problem. By linking brands to “Groups” in EZ LCMS, you can limit the content that students see based on which brand they log in to, and also create automatic enrollments as well.

Branding is just another robust feature available in the Easy-To-Use, affordable Learning Management System that is EZ LCMS. Give it a try for yourself free for 15 days at: http://www.ezlcms.com/index.php/free-trial/