August. As the kids go back to school, our thoughts are turned to learning. In the training world, that means in many cases that we are preparing our courses for publishing to a Learning Management System (LMS). Since there are countless LMSes out there, and they all function slightly differently, there’s not really any one guide that can tell you every step of publishing a course so it will work flawlessly in your LMS, but these 5 tips should ensure that your course works in your LMS.
Make sure you know what standards, parameters and settings your LMS requires before you proceed with publishing any course. Each LMS is different in terms of how to do that, so contact your LMS vendor or administrator to gather that information.
So let’s look at the basic steps as they pertain to Articulate Storyline 2:
Step 1: Choose your Publishing Standard
There are currently three main publishing standards in the eLearning world: SCORM, AICC, and Tin Can API. (A fourth standard, CMI5, is coming down the pike, but hasn’t been widely implemented yet.)
I found a great article at My eLearning World that very adroitly sums up each of the standards. I’ve pulled a bit from article to include here, but I would strongly encourage you to read the entire thing to familiarize with each of the standards.
SCORM (Shared Content Object Reference Model)
There are two main versions of the SCORM standard, Version 1.2 and 2004. The key difference between the two versions is course sequencing, it was added to 2004 version.
- Publish and play content across versatile platforms
- Track course completion and time spent
- Archive outdated content in a standard recognizable format
- Develop basic content or sophisticated courses with high production costs
- Blend content coming from multiple different sources and don’t worry about technical compatibility
- Infrequent updates, the latest dating back to 2009
- Doesn’t allow elaborate reporting
- Misses out on in-depth analysis of user activity
- Traditional SCORM content is Flash-based, which may cause issues on new platforms and mobile devices
AICC (Aviation Industry CBT Committee) was one of the earliest eLearning standards to be widely adopted, but has struggled to stay up to date with the constantly-evolving eLearning market, so it isn’t as prevalent as the other standards.
- Allows content to be hosted on a separate server
- Supports secure HTTPS data transfers
- Out-of-date and mostly abandoned by most e-Learning providers
- Limited functionality and lack of progress tracking capabilities
- Requires multiple operations to remove data from the string returned by the server.
Tin Can is the successor to SCORM and has some distinct advantages over its predecessor:
- Capability to view in-depth assessment results
- Freedom of working outside of a learning management system
- Advanced portability due to LRS
- No web browser required
- Greater control over e-Learning content
- Ability to record any relevant activity, any mouse click, answer, etc. (SCORM can only track quizzes and completion statuses by contrast)
- Ability to track diverse learning scenarios, be it games, simulations or any type of blended learning
Since a good majority of LMSes are still looking for SCORM-based courses, we’ll primarily focus on that standard here. But the concepts of making conscious choices to each of these steps still apply when developing a course for any kind of LMS publication.
Step 2: Choose what you’re going to track and report
Tracking and reporting a key part of the process. Tracking lets you determine how you are going to monitor the user’s progress through a course. This can also serve as a placeholder if your users close the course and need to come back in at the same spot where they left off.
Reporting primarily applies to SCORM if you are thinking of what information is sent upon course completion.
You can choose to set the course to Pass/Fail, Passed/Incomplete (useful if multiple attempts are allowed), Completed/Incomplete (for when you don’t need to know if a user passed a quiz, just if they viewed the course to completion), and Completed/Failed (for a course like Sexual Harassment when you may only care that they failed the course, but a passing grade counts as a completion.
Step 3: Choose the format for publication
Making a decision about format relies heavily on some key factors: what is the primary browser of your users/organization, will the course be accessed via mobile devices, and how will the course be distributed to your learners.
In most cases, nowadays, it is highly recommended that you publish for HTML5. Because Storyline doesn’t include responsive design functionality, you should choose Use Articulate Mobile Player for iOS or Android if your course will be accessed via mobile devices.
Notice that down the left side of this window, there are several other options besides the LMS option. These all address how your course will be delivered. If you don’t have an LMS, or need your course available to students who don’t have access to your LMS, you may want to consider publishing it for Web or CD distribution.
Clicking the Learn More About Publishing information link at the bottom of the window takes you to the Articulate site where these options are discussed more in depth.
Step 4: Set your quiz properties
If you are using SCORM as your publishing standard, you will most likely be including a quiz to capture the results.
On the Results page, you can set the passing score required, indicate if a time limit will be imposed, when the timer starts, and what format it will be. You can also select which slides are included in your quiz calculations, and you can choose if you want multiple results slides included in those calculations as well.
The Options page lets you choose which scores to display, whether or not the user can review the quiz, what to show when reviewing, printing permissions/parameters, and whether subsequent attempts at the quiz are allowed. Make these decisions based on what your LMS will allow.
Step 5: Test your course in SCORM Cloud
Once you have your parameters selected and you’ve published your course, it’s always a good idea to test it before going through the process of uploading to your LMS. SCORM Cloud is a web-based tool that allows you to do this quickly and easily. There is a free version that is quite robust and should meet the needs of most users, but even the paid options are very inexpensive and should fit within the budget of most organizations.
To use SCORM Cloud you just sign in and then choose a course and upload.
NOTE: SCORM Cloud can test a course published using any of the major eLearning standards: SCORM, AICC, or Tin Can API. It’s not just limited to SCORM packages.
Once your course is uploaded, launch it and SCORM Cloud runs the course just as it (theoretically) should run in your LMS. It will also provide you information about any errors or potential trouble spots so you can troubleshoot any issues.
Publishing to an LMS can be a patience-trying experience if you haven’t thought things through in advance. That’s why we always try to make our templates compliant – because it’s just that important. Hopefully, through using these assets and by following the steps listed here, your LMS publishing experience will be much less harrowing than most. Grab some templates, set your parameters and let the learning begin.