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Old 07-11-2001, 01:14 PM   #1
Tallywhacker
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Hi all,
(I'm new here so be gentle)I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with integrating Flash content into a Learning Management System (e-learning)? I'm curious because with all the buzz about e-learning all courseware I've seen on the web (run from a LMS)looks bloody AWFUL invariably the courseware is reams of html text with a tiny flash movie (with no interactivity) embedded in the page.

I'm in a situation whereby the company I work for has created courseware entirely in Flash no html anywhere and we have many blue chip clients who use our courses based on the look and feel of them now suddenly we have to make the courses IMS compliant and re engineer them to work in a LMS, the problem is I cant find any examples of Flash content being used in this way and it seems to me that I have to rip our courses apart and embed every single element onto a HTML page which to me is like taking 1 step forward and 100 steps back.

This situation is baffling because Flash5 is more than capable of performing complex interactions with a database (such as user tracking, password login etc)and yet none of these Learning Management Systems seem to have copped onto this.

Basically I'm asking for any feedback from anyone who has any ideas about this LMS lark and has had any experience in this area.

thanks in advance.

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Old 07-17-2001, 04:57 AM   #2
snowdude
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Hey send me an e-mail and maybe a link to an example of what your trying to do. I always seem to have about 1000 idea's on this type of thing. So maybe I could help. And yes I agree Flash is more then capable.

-Jeff.
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Later.

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Old 09-24-2001, 04:02 PM   #3
weg
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Default Flash LMS integration

Hi Tallywhacker

Sounds like you were in the same boat as us. Have you made any progress? We have Flash interactive course material and want to make it LMS (AICC) compatible. Macromedia are up to their old tricks of promising the earth in their promo paragraphs but on further scrutiny they scurry away leaving vague documentation!

Perhaps we can collaborate to create a solution?

As far as we can tell they are supposed to be developing some javascript to pass the necessary parameters from Flash to an LMS. (I have not been able to find it yet). The built in smartClips seem to be waiting for this also although we don't want to use these for our materials. You refer to the undesirable deconstruction of your Flash elements into separate HTML pages - exactly.

Another solution could be to embed the swf files in Authorware (6). We are waiting for a reply from MM informing us whether Authorware can communicate with Flash ActionScript. If so we could use AuthorWare to pass the tracking information to the LMS.

Perhaps we are making a meal of this and things are a lot simpler than it appears?

From other sources we have heard that WebCT or SmartForce are the preferable LMS systems. As soon as we get a little more info we have both at our disposal to start testing.

We look forward to hearing how you're getting on...

Will
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Old 09-24-2001, 05:05 PM   #4
Tallywhacker
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Hi Will,
Wow I posted this ages ago, unfortunately I've made very little progress on this end, the biggest problem is that its impossible to apply 'standards' such as AICC/IMS etc to an environment which is designed to stand alone and be cross platform compatible (ie the Flash player) in this case 'standards' are meaningless.

Unfortunately when creating these 'standards' they never took into account how quickly the Flash technology would develop so traditionally LMS were designed to treat flash objects as animated giffs and not interactive environments in their own right. So basically (depending on the level of tracking you want your just gonna have to break your flash movies into chunks (or learning objects) embedded in their own seperate pages, (yeah it sucks)

And forget about getting any help from 'e-learning' bodies such as AICC and ADLNET(Scorm) because they're clueless when it comes to Flash (I know, I've spent a lot of time on their forums), also one of our programming/server gurus is currently plowing through the SCORM schemas and in his words "This is Bullsh*t, the code is a mess, I've never seen such a convoluted way of doing something" (and he's been working in the e-learning sector for years).

We have to do a deployment for Docent so I'm currently using the Docent 'Outliner' developement (cough) tool to shoehorn our Flash courses into it and I can say it truly is a nightmare of epic proportions, basically its like creating courseware using microsoft word. (the thing that p*sses me off is if you go to the docent web page and look at their 'partner demos' they're all done in FLASH 5????..what the hell has that got to do with the Docent LMS???.

Sorry for the rant but its so frustrating when youve spent time (and money) creating wonderful Flash based courseware with its own internal tracking/scoring and now its useless because the bleedin LMS technology is so primitive that it wont accept it.

To finish, I've been discussing this on the Flashkit message boards as well and EVERYONE using Flash in the e-learning community is having the same problems.

Bureaucracy sucks.

(dunno if this might help you as I havent been able to test it

http://www.elearningobjects.com

look for the ELO tracker its supposed to allow Flash to communicate with an LMS)
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Old 09-24-2001, 06:13 PM   #5
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i too, work for an e-learning company. we do a little of everything in terms of how we display the output from our delivery system. for flash, and really HTML, display XML is the way to go. flash has a lot of incorporated widgets to work with the xml. now if you're talking database structure and actually getting the xml to the flash, well that's the big part. we also use flash for our class management and class authoring systems as well. XML is the ticket in the transfer of the data form your flash frontend to whatever the engineers have set up for the backend.
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Old 09-25-2001, 09:33 AM   #6
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It's looking grim for the progress of intuitive e-learning. Basically it seems the so-called experts can't see past shovelware mixed with a few multichoice questions. Ideal for the gentleman amatuers sat in their cosy academic offices - rant over.

We'll follow up ELO Tracker. If there is something to cut down the amount of work - great - but XML could be the solution (thanks for joining in mpol777). If only I was more savvy with XML. I've played with the new XML object but need to be more familiar with what I'm trying to do. Is it possible to communicate XML data to an AICC compliant LMS? F**k, look at all these acronyms, I'm turning into a right techy.

We want to be able to "loadMovie" each question into a parent movie. If you can communicate with XML, at the end of each Flash question the LMS could be updated - yeh?

I wish we could just use our own management system but as you'll know the customer is bound to ask the question "is it AICC compliant"? They don't even know what it means!

We're going to experiment with Authorware 6 today and see how well it communicates with Flash.
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Old 09-25-2001, 09:57 AM   #7
Tallywhacker
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Thats the biggest stumbling block I've faced, because the LMSs are based on navigating through a series of html pages the 'loadmovie' command is meaningless to them, for example I have a parent movie which contains all menus and navigation, this in turn loads movies (ie tutorials quizzes etc) as required the problem is where do you store the external swfs?, every client will have their servers set up a different way so its pointless telling Flash to 'Loadmovie c:/tutorials/tut01.swf' because with the IMS packaging schemas (which you have to provide as an xml manifest to the client in order to 'unzip' the files into the right directories)youve no guarantee where on the server the client is hosting the LMS.

XML does seem to be the way to go however the SCORM schemas are bassically Java based (an api applet which is supposed to wrap the content) and they are SO unstable now if theyd gone and used CGI (like the rest of the world use for server scriptimg/backend) we could use GET and POST which would make life so much easier for everyone.

I despair when I see the authoring tools that are being produced by these 'think tanks' THEYRE AWFUL and they cost a fortune, I'm sorry but if I was gonna purchase software for $3000 + I'll buy 3d studio max and not a badly designed , badly implemented piece of software which is using technology which is nearly 10 years old...fools and their money and all that, someone is making alot of money on the backs of gullible people.
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Old 09-25-2001, 04:45 PM   #8
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i guess i must have it good, since our management, delivery and authoring systems are all built in house. with one of our products however, the delivery engine is set up to accept data from multiple management systems. i can't tell you much about the java side of it, since that's not my area, what i can tell you is that XML is the way to go for all data transfer. i've found that the documentation for getting XML into flash is quite poor. there are some places you can dig it up, but it takes a lot of reasearch.

when we use .swf's for assessment we usually use them alone inside HTML pages. mainly because that is how our system is currently set up for grading. this way you can use the flash answer to fill in form elements that can be sent on the submition of the form.

in a recent project we did some cool things with flash and XML. it was a networking application. like most apps it had a toolbar that had the different hardware use to build a network, different buildings and rooms in which to place the euiptment and then gui windows to set properties of the hardware. a user could drag and drop hardware in different rooms, connect them with different cables types, and then set the properties for each connection. the intial settings were all brought in via XML that was generated by JAVA servelets. after a student did all their dragging and setup of the network, the flash app would send the XML that it generated back to JAVA servlets to run assessment on the network they just built. the most important thing was keeping the XML and flash seperate. the XML was brought in, converted to flash arrays and objects then at the end converted back to XML.
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Old 09-26-2001, 09:11 AM   #9
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Hi mp0l177,
The frustrating thing is if we were doing everything in-house we could create our own LMS and then there wouldnt be a problem (in fact the flash courses are designed to work from a database (text files control everything from narrative to quiz scoring/tracking) the problem is the major e-learning customers have gone and purchased 3rd party LMSs such as Docent and Saba and as such we're forced to author for those environments...so basically we just forget about flash (or use it to display 'pretty' pictures).

Unfortunately most e-learning customers dont know/care about Flash, they just want information that can be tracked and stored somewhere, in fact most e-learning courseware (running on LMSs) looks just like an Adobe Acrobat file, text..text..text..text and maybe a 'nice picture' somewhere, I remember when we got the Docent LMS and I had a look at the demo courses provided...first I laughed my ass off and then I cried.

Just gotta live with the fact that at the moment LMS/e-learning courseware is not for designers, the authoring tools are primitive and the 'standards' are aimed at technical writers/programmers.
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Old 04-04-2005, 02:16 PM   #10
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i am in this same boat, has anyone made any progress with this ??? i have currently been directed to build 100% Flash templates that are also SCORM conformant. not fun, but i have learned alot about Flash in the meantime, so i guess it is not a total loss.....

my biggest problem is getting the Flash to send out the javascript calls to the LMS. basically for the time in, time out, test score and quit. i have tried FSCommand and GetUrl but i can not figure out 1)which is best (we are strictly using IE) and 2) the specific code to do that....

my current thought is to have Flash open up a seperate html page off screen that has the right JS calls i nit and see if that will work....

any ideas or solutions would be very helpful.

Last edited by redbear; 04-04-2005 at 02:45 PM.
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