The Challenges

This product encompassed a myriad of challenges; not to mention the least of which, was to incorporate three completely separate courses in one user interface.

Primary Challenges

The challenges for this product were many.

To start, and most importantly, the essence of the product/courseware was three fold: first, the courseware had to encompass three distinctive courses with 7-10 modules each. Secondly, it had to be accessible by user on CD/DVD-ROM. Third, the user’s progress had to be tracked so they could RESUME where they left off once the disc was ejected and reinserted.

Seeing the primary challenges simply written in a few sentences could make one wonder, well, how hard could it have been? If you had a team of proficient guru’s, I’d agree…how hard could it have been? But all of the production, conceptualizing, graphic design, coding, module building, audio recording/editing was ONLY JUST ME…and I’d call that challenging!

Client Requested Challenges

  • The user had to be able to SIGN IN and PERSONALIZE their experience
  • The user must be able to access a myriad of external resources-information-documentation at ALL TIMES
  • The user must be able to take a final exam at the end of a course
  • The final exam questions MUST SHUFFLE (the order of the questions as well as the order of the answers) so the user couldn’t just write down the right answers and retake the exam without really absorbing the subject matter
  • The user must be able to save a copy of their certificate (via image format) to email to the OSC
  • The certificate MUST display the users exam score
  • The certificate must be coded if the user took more than two attempts to pass the final exam

Non-client based Challenges

  • The amount of available resources-information-documentation was quite vast and diverse (PDFs, executables of other full DTIRP products that also linked to external video, MSWord documents, MSHelp file systems), so I had to incorporate a scrollable reference tool section…remember, in a Flash interface
  • Using Flash Shared Objects to store values that could be used when retrieved to indicate if a user actually finished a module and change a NOT ATTEMPTED indicator to COMPLETED in the module completion status report
  • Preventing a user from being able to print the certificate without taking/passing the exam
  • Creating question pools (additional questions the application could pull from) so the user would not be presented with the same questions on exam retake

Although this is a unique product, it was not without its challenge resolution woes. The actual inclusion of three separate courses in one interface was quite the initial challenge. The product that I used to create the content is Adobe Captivate. Captivate is an amazing tool, however, it is basically used to author a single file. But, it does allow one to AGGREGATE multiple single files into ONE…unfortunately, that didn’t solve my problem…now, if Captivate would allow one to aggregate multiple aggregated files, then I’d be on to something.

Since that wasn’t the case, I had to use Adobe Flash to build my interface; then export my single Captivate files (modules) as SWFs, then use ActionScript on the Flash timeline to LOAD and UNLOAD the modules as per user request. I have a more in-depth explanation as to how I accomplished this solution on my blog at http://edscorner.com/ecblog/2012/04/13/using-flash-as-gui-for-captivate-e-learning-courses/

Outside of all of the product challenges, there were hours of narration…and yes, I used my own home-based recording studio to record a professional narrator. Then, of course, I had to create the snippets for importing on the multitude of slides that made up the many modules.

Below are a few screenshots of some challenge areas.

Course & Module Navigation

The amount of content available in the product is so deceiving, given the elegant information architecture of the interface.

Scrollable External Content

Incredibly complex feature just by virtue of being an object in Flash; even though it seemingly performs a simple task.

Saving Certificate Dialog Box

Good thing this feature was low on the priority list of challenges. Had I know in advance the trouble it would cause...

Reporting Exam Score

Not one of the more complex features of the product, but extreamly tricky. Had to use and configure multiple widgets.