Microsoft LCDS 2.6

Microsoft released a new version of its Learning Content Development System.

These are the new features:

  • compatibility wit Internet Explorer 9
  • enhanced keyboard accessibility for all Silverlight interactive elements
  • new sequencing activity topic template – where you have to put elements in the correct order
  • new card flip game topic template

Click the image below for an screencast of the new sequencing activity.

You can download the new version on http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/training/lcds.aspx.

When you open an existing course, it is automatically upgraded to the new version.

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Microsoft LCDS version 2.5

Microsoft released a new version of its Learning Content Development System, the free content authoring tool. The release notes show the following changes:
  • E-learning created is compatible with Firefox 3.5.9 and Firefox 3.6.3.
  • Microsoft Silverlight 4 Media Player for animations that include closed captioning.
  • Enhanced keyboard accessibility for the sort and tile games, adventure interactivity, and Voice of the Expert element.
  • LCDS authoring and e-learning created are completely compatible with Microsoft Silverlight 4.0.
An interesting new feature is the possibility to create content on the “lesson” level. Previous versions did not allow this, which sometimes resulted in blank pages in the course structure when you imported the SCORM package in an LMS. When you open a course in the new version, you will notice an option to enable the content at the lesson level:
Tip: if you don’t know which version of LCDS you are running, open LCDS and press Shift+F1.
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Converting Captivate screencasts to Silverlight

Recently, I had to produce screencasts that needed to be published/played in a Microsoft Silverlight player. I know, most people are still using the very popular Flash format, but sometimes there are reasons why you need to use Silverlight. For instance because it needs to be published on a Microsoft platform. ;–)

The trouble is that this requires your movies to be in .wmv format. Captivate currently ony produces Flash output (of course).

If you are starting from scratch, you can use a screencasting tool that produces .wmv files directly. You can use Camtasia Studio, or Microsofts Expression Encoder. This will give you a nice .wmv file that you can then embed in your authoring tool, or play directly with a Silverlight player (e.g. the free one on Codeplex.).

But what if you have tons of Captivate movies ready to be published? Or if you like Captivate better than Camtasia? Well, no worries, you can follow these steps:

  1. Remove the “interactive” elements from your Captivate movies. This includes buttons, playback controls, question slides, anything a user can click on. This is important, otherwise your conversion will fail.
  2. Publish your project  and get the .swf file.
  3. Convert the .swf file to .wmv. I used Camtasia to do that (via Import media you can import an .swf file, and publish your project as .wmv), but I heard of other people using tools like Prism to do this.
  4. Integrate the .wmv in your Silverlight authoring tool or in your player.
  5. Done!

You can view an example of the final result. Requires the Silverlight Player (duh!).

Any tips or tricks? Share them in the comments!

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Tips and best practices for screencasts

The people from TechSmith (Camtasia, Jing, Snagit…) recently polled their community for best practices and tips for creating effective screencasts, software animations, screen demo’s, whatever you want to call them.
They bundled the result in a 3-page booklet, in a kind of “tag cloud” format. Quick to read, and very valuable!

You can download it from their blog.

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Interface language in Adobe Presenter projects

In one of our recent projects, we used Adobe Presenter to create some course material and quizzes based on PowerPoint slides. This actually works very well, but one thing bothered me: the “interface” of the course or quiz is sometimes shown in a different language. We are talking about these texts:

presenter1

presenter2

I was wondering how you could “force” it to be in one language, and what was the logic behind it. This is what I found out:

  • the language you get in the interface is based on the Regional Settings of the pc you display the content on. So NOT on the language settings of your browser (which seems more logical to me). This is an issue in Belgium as we have French (Belgium) and Dutch (Belgium), and not every computer is configured correctly.
  • the text is only modified if your regional settings are set to one of these languages: German, French, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese, or Dutch. In all other cases, English is shown.
  • you can customize this text by creating a custom theme with the Theme Editor for your project. Consult the Adobe Presenter help pages for the correct procedure.

And this last topic gives you a possible solution for a “fixed” language: if you set the labels for all languages to the same language, you have your uni-lingual interface. That’s a lot of copy-pasting, but it works!

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