ACCION International has developed a series of asynchronous courses using the Articulate Rapid e-Learning Studio application. The courses are rich in their design and content, addressing a variety of training topics in the areas of general management, financial management and project management. Recently, however, as ACCION prepared to load one of its courses into their IntraLearn LMS sub-portal, they found that the course was experiencing loading problems – running on some machines, failing to launch on others, and freezing up a few computers.
ACCION’s experience is not unusual among LINGOs member agencies working with asynchronous on-line training. Deploying asynchronous courses in international development, relief and conservation organizations is complex. Users work off a variety of operating systems and service packs; There is no standard browser configuration among field offices; Firewalls differ from region to region; and bandwidth can be a serious constraint. Furthermore, even organizations that work in a single standard environment with uniformly high-speed internet connectivity (and there are none that I am aware of), are still challenged to ensure that the SCORM packages (the code that allow agencies to track learner progress) generated by course development tools like Articulate Presenter are communicating correctly with the learning management system that tracks learner progress.
In this case, LINGOs and ACCION worked together to discover that the course was being loaded as a pop up window in ACCION’s IntraLearn LMS sub-portal. As a result, SCORM code transfers were interrupted between the course and the LMS. At this point, I can imagine the reader’s eyes have just glossed over and you are overcome with a desire to go to sleep. But wait! Before you close this browser and move on to a more interesting article on http://www.people.com, hear me out for just one more minute!
There are two crucial lessons to be learned from this case:
LESSON 1 – TEST EARLY; TEST OFTEN! ACCION’s testing process uncovered the problem early enough so that it could be addressed before the courses had been deployed to learners around the world. If a Country Represenative had been the one uncovering this problem, it could have resulted in serious adoption repercussions that might have been avoided. As indicated earlier in this post, deploying asynchronous learning is a complex process and developers should ensure that their courses are tested thoroughly, inside the LMS environment, with SCORM tracking operational, and on a variety of system/browser/firewall configurations. As is always the case in project management, correcting problems is always more cost effective early on in the development process.
LESSON TWO – LEARN FROM YOUR LINGOs COMMUNITY What wasn’t shared in the case study above, is the fact that this same pop up problem was encountered by another LINGOs member agency several months earlier. As a result, the diagnosis and troubleshooting process to resolve the ACCION challenge only took about 30 minutes. This underscores one of the central advantages of working within the LINGOs Learning Tools Community. Rather than each agency having to test, diagnose, troubleshoot and resolve course development problems individually, each of the agencies can learn from the previous work of other agencies. In this case, the “Fix” to the problem was posted to the Articulate Presenter Workspace of the LINGOs website, allowing other agencies to learn more quickly and efficiently.
These two lessons apply to all of the Learning Tools (Outstart Trainer, Elluminate Live, IntraLearn LMS, the Articulate Rapid e-Learning Suite) supported by LINGOs. The Learning Tools section of the LINGOs web site is continuously updated to reflect the most recent knowledge of the LINGOs member community. Take some time to explore!