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Thread: E-learning Questions

  1. #1
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    Hello Everyone-

    I'm in the process of desigining and building a rather complicated e-learning site using HTML and Flash and I have a few questions for you.

    1) Is there a resource like Flashkit for e-learning?

    2) I'm thinking about selling CD collections of the lessons contained on the site but I want to make sure that people don't copy them. Are copy protection methods available for general public use? Can you suggest a good one?

    3) Is Authorware an option or would it require my customers to download a new plugin for their browser?

  2. #2
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Hi

    Funny you should bring up a question about e-learning, as I'm just about complete two weeks of struggling to create an e-learning demo, which, if we land it, could mean a nice, constant supply of work for quite a while. (It's between us and one other company, so it's down to the wire).

    These guys have already bought a system, or platform, on which they want to run the content, and the manufacturers of this platform recommend that presentations be delivered using Authorware. So the past two weeks have seen me alternately laughing and pulling out hair (sounds bipolar!), trying to get this new software to dance.

    I can't answer your first two questions, but I can tell you that Authorware, which is a pretty nice development tool for e-learning, needs a hefty plug-in download before content can display. Of course, if you're making CDs, maybe you can make the course a self-contained player (I haven't experimented with that, as the work I'm doing is specifically for delivery over the wire), but I'm not even sure if Authorware has a Projector-type feature.

    Sorry I can't help you more, but good luck.
    Cheers


  3. #3
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    Thanks for the Authorware info. The majority of my audience will use a dial-up connection so downloading yet another plug-in is not an option.

  4. #4
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    the company I work for, http://www.btl.com , have massive contracts for e learning from http://www.learndirect.com , http://www.edexcel.org.uk/ , and other UK government funded bodies. When I say massive I mean products that contain 3000+ screens.

    A word of advice though, don't bite off more than you can chew. We have taken over several contracts from companies that think they can build products but don't adequately take on board the sheer volume of work involved.

    We use flash for content but produce screens via custom built VB product that combines HTML text, flash, XML and produces SWF's.

    It is definitely a growth area. The UK Government is plowing huge amounts of cash into online learning and testing.

  5. #5
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    I can really see e-learning projects as a path for our company, looking to advance beyond basic customer/consumer website design. It certainly seems like a growing area of the market and as a designer, everything I've cut my teeth on still applies.

    Perhaps one of the best uses for the web yet.

  6. #6
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    Try http://www.astd.org and http://www.internettime.com for learning resources. Also check out the forums on macromedia.com as they seem to be focusing a lot on elearning right now.

    I've also been working on developing elearning systems. What you really need is a Learning Management System that will allow you to plug in your flash content and also allow user tracking and password protection. Blackboard and webCT are two big names in the business but don't come cheap.

    I've been trying to get Postnuke and the Content Express module to work as a kind of open source LMS and it works okay. It will allow me to assign users to view/access certain content and also allows me to link those same user groups to private discussion areas on the forums. No user tracking or SCORM compiance though.

    Chris

  7. #7
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Tw4win, re: the Authorware content player, I forgot to mention that you can choose to embed the plugin in the presentation, enabling viewers to see content without additional installation, but the smallest version offered with the 6.0 software is 800kb (approx), going up to 7MG for the full player. They have a median choice which I think is 2.4 MGs (approx).

    [Yikes]

  8. #8
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    The Minister of No Crap

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    You might find this link helpful as well:.

    Macromedia: Resources for Educators

    -scott

  9. #9
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    Postnuke is a good idea. Where did you find the module for it?

  10. #10
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    Answer to a couple of your questions:

    - There is no real practical way as yet to copy protect CDs. We did a HUGE amount of research a while back for a big client, and in the end they went to DVD. The options offered (and do a Google search for "CD protection" or simialr - there are heaps) all have deficiencies that do not provide complete protection, or else the technique used is too complex (for example, one requires a user to contact you every tiem they open the CD).

    Think about it - if it was that easy Microsoft software would be copyprotected, as would all music CDs - with the current technology they're implementing making it non-playable on many computers.

    - As to Authorware, it's a bloated plugin that is slowly being phased out by Macromedia in favour of Flash and Dreamweaver. Read up on the Macromedia site and you will find out about all the new features that basically allow you to do exactly as Authoware does but without the huge plugin.

    And the number 1 thing with eLearning is accessibility. Trust me, I've been in the eLearning industry for over 2 years now. What you need to look at is something that is simple (emphasise "simple") for a user, and that downloads quickly without needing plugins. We have enough trouble getting our users to download and install Real Player!

    We actually have our own LMS, but unfortunately at present does not fully integrate with custom front ends - it uses a template based front end, but does provide good tracking. If you're interested at all, check out http://www.e-cademy.net, and/or send me an email. Substantially les than Blackboard, but provides much of the functionality. Unfortunately not SCORM compliant, but then anything under $20,000 is not.

    Cheers
    Dave



  11. #11
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalFlashDavo
    Answer to a couple of your questions:

    ...- As to Authorware, it's a bloated plugin that is slowly being phased out by Macromedia in favour of Flash and Dreamweaver. Read up on the Macromedia site and you will find out about all the new features that basically allow you to do exactly as Authoware does but without the huge plugin.

    Hi Davo
    Is this a roundabout way of saying that Authorware will not be expecting a 7.0, in favour of the Flash player becoming LMS-compliant?

    (Sorry if my terminology is butt-backwards)




  12. #12
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    Don't know if they'd go so far as that, would depend on how big the corporate base is that relies on this product, but everything you read about the eLearning support for Flash and Dreamweaver says to me that's what will happen eventually.

    Authorware made certain things easier. As soon as Flash and Dreamweaver make those same things just as easy, but without needing the Authorware plugin, well you take a guess...

    Won't happen tomorrow, but will happen eventually. Why was there no AuthorwareMX??


  13. #13
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Hypothesizing on the no Authorware MX, perhaps this time around, MM were looking specifically to create products for the 'rich application' environment, something with which Authorware, at best, could only be loosely associated.

    I can't see how the capability of knowledge objects, for example, could be worked into standard Flash. That would mean that the common Authorware 'Do you want to allow this app to access your hd' would becomes a publishing choice? Sounds like a lot of heavy stuff that the majority of Flashers would never use would have to be included in the app.

    Not that I'm advocating people jump up and start using Authorware, but becoming proficient in a software and then having it become obsolete leaves a really bad taste.

  14. #14
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    postnuke

    You can get the content express module here: http://pn.arising.net/ce/modules.php...le=index&mid=1

    I'm not sure if postnuke is ever going to be a real solution for elearning but it does a few of the jobs you need - password protect tutorials, assign user groups, link user groups to private discussion forums.

    There is an open source LMS being developed called OKI (open knowledge initiative) by MIT and a few other agencies that might be a better solution but its someway away from being completed. Website: http://web.mit.edu/oki/

    Flash is already LMS compliant. In MX just choose the AICC or SCORM templates and you'll be able to import into Blackboard or similar LMSs. The learning interactions are also SCORM compliant and will send the right data to your LMS if you set it up correctly.

    Its probably worth checking out Macromedia Coursebuilder for dreamweaver as it provides a pretty neat solution for user tracking, score keeping etc.

    Chris

  15. #15
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    Re: postnuke

    Originally posted by dissector

    Flash is already LMS compliant. In MX just choose the AICC or SCORM templates and you'll be able to import into Blackboard or similar LMSs. The learning interactions are also SCORM compliant and will send the right data to your LMS if you set it up correctly.

    Its probably worth checking out Macromedia Coursebuilder for dreamweaver as it provides a pretty neat solution for user tracking, score keeping etc.
    Exactly. Does all the valuable things you need for online learning withut needing additional plugins.

    Sure, as I had already said, with the size of the development community Authorware ain't going to just disappear, but neither will huge time be spent on future developments.

    Why would they have spent, and be spending, so much time on making Flash and Dreamweaver more and more user friendly for eLearning development if they're also continuing improvements with Authorware? Already the features make it almost redundant, and the next versions (MX2?) will probably even more so.

    Anyway, all conjecture, but my 2c worth...



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