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Dated: Nov. 10, 2009

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3. Course Navigation

How smart is your course navigation? By smart, I mean can it communicate with your LMS? Most in-course navigation is pretty boring and perfunctory. If you spice up yours with Flash, your courses will become more useable.

Since Flash can work with SCORM and AICC courses, on-screen buttons can be scripted via ActionScript to send calls to the LMS for certain conditions. A button at the end of a lesson might send a finish statement to the LMS, signifying lesson completion and triggering further actions. Another button might automatically submit the results of a quiz.

Better learning experiences are possible, since the entire interface is completely customizable, and buttons are very easy to create in Flash. If you want, you can even use its built-in library of buttons to create your course navigation.

At SyberWorks, we retro-fitted some existing e-Learning courses (developed for restaurant employees) for our LMS, complete with all of the calls necessary for course status and completion. These Flash-based courses had a cohesive look and feel that was much more compelling than a plain-text HTML web experience.

4. Creating Simulations

Some software tools, such as Camtasia and Captivate, are designed solely for creating software simulations. They have advantages and disadvantages, and SyberWorks does use them, along with other simulation software packages. But what if the software you need to create a simulation for isnt available on your platform, or only works behind a clients firewall?

When the Palm Pilot came out, I had the opportunity to create a software simulation that showed new owners how to use the device. Since the Palm software only resides on the Palm Pilot, I couldnt use a PC-based software-simulation tool to capture screens. So I used my scanner and Photoshop, imported the screens and artwork into Flash, and created the simulation.

At SyberWorks, we are currently working with an Internet company whose proprietary software (for security reasons) only works on computers behind their firewall. Since we cant install or use their software in-house, we had to go to the clients location to take screen shots. Those images were then imported into Flash, captions and highlights were added, and the course material came to life.

5. Video

Video is becoming more prevalent on the web these days, with the rise of YouTube and other video-streaming services. Video can significantly enhance course materials, but (as with audio) it can be difficult to manage, due to multiple video formats and players. On the PC, AVI is the dominant format and Windows Media Player is the usual player. On the Mac, MOV is the format of choice and the Quicktime Player from Apple is the dominant player. However, there are other video formats and players, including Real media / Real Player and others.

When Flash MX 2004 was released, video was a major component. And with Flash CS3, video has become even easier to incorporate. You can deploy video on your own server or on a dedicated Flash Streaming Video Server, for extra bandwidth. Flash has its own video format, called Flash Video (FLV). Flash videos can be played by any Flash movie (SWF) file, so no additional player is necessary. In fact, a majority of the movies found on YouTube were done in the Flash video format.

A short demonstration video, not longer than 1 minute, can be embedded in a Flash movie. Anything longer than that can be linked to a Flash movie file and set to progressively download from your server. If you are expecting a lot of traffic and have longer movies, you should use a Flash Video Streaming server. There are many of these FMS services out there, and SyberWorks uses UpStream Networks to host our larger videos.

With Flash and ActionScript, it is also possible to do more than just play videos. Cue Points can key off of specific video frames, to control other events. And the new captioning feature can add closed captioning for video segments. At SyberWorks, we created a video of a speaker presenting a slideshow. Cue Points in the video triggered relevant text to appear, and made it seem that the viewer was actually on-site, watching the original presentation.

But keep in mind that video is processor-intensive. Consider your audience and the minimum system requirements necessary to view streaming Flash videos. Dropped frames and inconsistent playback can occur on slower machines.

6. Drag-and-Drop Interactions

A simple multiple-choice quiz can be effective in testing situations, but drag-and-drop interactions can add many useful features of an interactive process. With drag-and-drop interactions, you can simulate experiences that mimic the real world.

Using Flash and ActionScript, drag-and-drop interactions can be created from scratch, using hitTest properties and if conditionals to test whether an object has been dropped on a specific target. If the object has landed on its correct target, the application shows a correct response or visual/audio feedback. If the object is not dropped on its correct target, an incorrect response or visual/audio feedback can occur.

In Flash, you can access built-in drag-and-drop (and other) interactions, by going to the Window menu, then to Common Libraries, and then to Learning Interactions. The interactions are ActionScript 2.0 only, but have all of the features necessary to create many desired interactions. You can then use the Flash Component Inspector to configure interactions, change their text, and alter the conditions of their tests.

At SyberWorks, we created drag-and-drop interactions to meet the many custom-content needs of our clients. Doing a custom application gives us complete control over both the look and feel of course environments and the parameters of their interactions. Audio also helps to give user feedback for every action, and a final screen tells users how effectively they completed the exercises.

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Now that you've gotten free know-how on this topic, try to grow your skills even faster with online video training. Then finally, put these skills to the test and make a name for yourself by offering these skills to others by becoming a freelancer. There are literally 2000+ new projects that are posted every single freakin' day, no lie!

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generic doctor's Comment
Loved the images, i really like the among this image, perfecto.
10 Sat Dec 2016
Admin's Reply:

lenny carl's Comment
waka waka
26 Tue Jan 2010
Admin's Reply:

Waka Waka right back at you

kans's Comment
that was a good info, but you could some more too
12 Thu Nov 2009
Admin's Reply: I'll try my best :)