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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Moodle: Flash animations suddenly don’t appear

We experienced a serious issue in one of our Moodle platforms. Flash animations that worked before, suddenly did not appear anymore. Instead, a warning message appears stating that the Flash player used is too old.
This issue was caused by a recent upgrade to the platform. For security reasons, a new parameter was added, that forces the Moodle users to upgrade to a specific version of the Flash player.
The default in my Moodle version (1.9.7) was set to version 10.0.12, which is pretty recent. In corporate networks, users often do not have the rights to upgrade the player, so this might cause some problems.
You can set the value to an earlier version, or leave the option blank to disable the checking. The option is called Required Flash Player Version and can be found in Site Administration – Security – HTTP Security.

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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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Adobe Captivate and the ADL SCORM Test Suite 1.2.7

Today, I have been struggeling with a SCORM 1.2 conformance test of an Adobe Captivate package. Let me share my experience to avoid that others have the same painful experience.

The mission

The purpose is to test an Adobe Captivate 4 SCORM package (SCORM 1.2) with the ADL Test Suite 1.2.7, and prove it is fully SCORM compliant.

The issues

When you load the scorm package in the ADL Test Suite and you run the Content Package Conformance Test, there are two issues:

  1. the metadata test passes successfully, but when you need to launch the SCO, the Captivate content does not load. IE shows a script error:
    Error: ‘document.getElementById(…)’ is null or not an object
  2. if you get the first issue fixed, the SCO launches but test fails with at least one of the following messages:
     ERROR:   LMS Not initialized
     ERROR:   SCO invoked API calls out of order
     ERROR:   LMS not initialized
     ERROR:   Invalid LMSFinish() call
     ERROR:   SCO invoked API calls out of order

The solutions

It took me quite some surfing to find the following solutions:

  • The ADL 1.2.7 test suite software is already quite old, and a lot of forum posts suggested that you needed to use the correct Java RTE, older browsers… I tried all that, but it never helped me. I now have the test suite running on a Windows 7 64 bit (!) , with the latest Java RTE (Version 6 update 15, build 1.6.0_15-b03), and IE 8. So don’t spend your time on this.
  • And now for fix number one: to make sure that your SCO gets launched in the test suite, you need to edit the html file that is generated by Captivate when publishing your content (the .html that has the same name as your project .swf). Open the file with a text editor (Notepad), on the second line you will find <!– saved from url=(0013)about:internet –>. Delete that line.
    Restart your test, and your SCO will now launch. But you will get errors in your test now.
  • Fix number two: change the security settings of the Flash player on your machine.
    • Get some Flash content playing in your browser. Any Flash animation will do. Go e.g. to www.adobe.com.
    • Right-click on the animation, you will get the Flash context menu. Select Settings.
    • You will get a little menu like this:
      flash settings
    • Click the Advanced button. This will bring you to an Adobe Web site.
    • In the table of contents on the left, click Global Security Settings Panel. This will show you a panel like this:
      trusted locations
    • Add the location where your ADL TestSuite software is installed to the trusted locations. The location of the TEST SUITE software, not the location of your zip file or your content files. Those get copied automatically to a TestSuite subfolder when you run the test.
    • Close all your browser windows and re-run the test.

Explanation and credits

There is probably a very good explanation why you need to do all this, but I am not able to give it to you. I’m just summarizing some steps I found in various forum posts. So kudos go to these forum members:

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/212606

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440917

Bottom line?

A lot of forum posters are yelling that Captivate content does not pass the SCORM test. Before I ran my package through the Test Suite, I tried importing it in three different LMS’s, and it worked in all three! So failing the ADL Test has more to do with the way the Test Suite runs local content than with Captivate content not being SCORM compliant.

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