Tin Canny Meets Gutenberg

Happy WordPress 5.0 Release Day!

Are you ready for Gutenberg? Or, more importantly, are your plugins?

If you use Uncanny Owl plugins on your LearnDash site, you might be ready. Users of the Pro modules of the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit, Groups, Continuing Education Credits and Codes plugins are all set with the latest versions available from our site without needing to update. But if you use Tin Canny, make sure to update to version 2.9.9 or higher to use the Tin Canny uploader! Without it, you will not be able to upload your SCORM and xAPI modules to your LearnDash courses.

Tin Canny 2.9.9 isn’t just about Gutenberg though. It’s a big release and the last update before the 3.0 release later this month, so we wanted to talk through some of the changes and what they mean for your site.

Most important is, of course, the Gutenberg uploader for Tin Canny. It’s completely different than what you’re used to seeing for Tin Canny.

Tin Canny Blocks

Uploading modules is now done in Gutenberg using the “Tin Canny Content” block. By clicking that, you can choose to Upload a new module or Select from Library any existing content.

All of the controls you’re used to for your modules are now displayed in the block settings on the right, including the settings you’re used to, like insertion type and dimensions.

Gutenberg Tin Canny Uploader

And that’s it! Making the transition to managing your SCORM and xAPI with Gutenberg might seem strange the first time you do it, but it really is a simple transition once you’ve added 1 or 2 modules.

Outside of the Gutenberg-specific additions, we created a new page to find and manage your uploaded modules. The Manage Content page makes it easy to search through your uploaded Rise, Storyline, Captivate and iSpring modules, as well as preview them and delete them. No more having to dig through the Uploader tab in a post to look through and delete your modules (and we know many people didn’t even know that function existed).

 

There’s a lot more that’s new in the 2.9.9 release; here are some highlights:

  • An easy option to clear Answered and Experienced xAPI records from your database, freeing up space taken by these often less important verbs. (More data management records are coming in 3.0, including resetting Tin Canny data for individual users.)
  • Better support for the H5P Course Presentation content type.
  • Improved time zone support for the quiz reports.

The next big release will be 3.0, so stay tuned for more news on that in the near future!

New Front End Quiz Reports

One of our Tin Canny customers came to us with a great question: How can my instructors and students easily track performance across both LearnDash AND xAPI/SCORM modules? Tin Canny does a pretty good job with LearnDash results, but xAPI results are harder to analyze and none of our existing reports combine all scores together (LearnDash and xAPI). So, to help that client out, we created some new reports—and those new reports are now available in version 2.9.5 and higher of Tin Canny.

The first new report is a front end Group Leader quiz report. Administrators and Group Leaders can use the report to view LearnDash quiz and all scores tracked by Tin Canny (so H5P, iSpring, Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline and Rise) by group and by course. That means no digging into the Tin Can report in the back end and reconciling it with LearnDash quiz scores to get consolidated results. It’s all in a single report. Better yet, if quiz statistics were turned on for LearnDash quizzes, the new report also links to detailed quiz results, including a user’s answers and quiz times. (No such reports are available for Tin Canny scores, unfortunately, as those are LearnDash-only reports.)

Tin Canny Group Quiz Report

Tin Canny users with version 2.9.5 or higher installed can add the new report to a page by using this shortcode:

[uo_group_quiz_report]

The second new report, also for the front end, outputs all scores for a particular user. Available to students themselves, Group Leaders and administrators, this one lists all LearnDash and scores tracked by Tin Canny across all courses.

Here’s the shortcode for the user quiz report:

[uo_individual_quiz_report]

Tin Canny User Quiz Report

The best part of the two reports is that they can be linked together for admins and Group Leaders using a shortcode attribute.

Here’s how to use it:

[uo_group_quiz_report user_report_url="%URL%"]

Just replace the URL in the example above with the URL that shows the new user report. And by doing that, all user names in the Group report will be linked to the user report with that person’s results. These 2 reports together make for a very powerful drill-down reporting solution for quiz scores, especially when paired with the CSV and PDF export options.

Please note that these 2 new reports are included in the Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin only. It can be used without SCORM/Tin Can data as a LearnDash-only quiz reporting solution, but it is still only included in the Tin Canny plugin.

Front End Reporting Solutions for LearnDash

It’s been a constant request from LearnDash users ever since we started building WordPress platforms: “We need better front end reports.” End users don’t like CSV files. They also get confused in the back end, even if they’re Group Leaders. LearnDash users needed a better way.

Gradually some viable solutions started to appear in the LearnDash community. ProPanel add front end widgets a few months ago, and third parties like 247digitalclassrooms started to fill in some gaps. We added some compelling options ourselves, but after a year of countless requests, we’re finally bringing our most requested reports to the front end.

Front End Reporting Comes to Tin Canny

Version 2.2 of our Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin adds the Course and User reports you’re familiar with in the back end to the front end. Group Leaders can finally access drill-down summary and student reports without requiring access to the back end of your WordPress site. On top of that, we have also added a filter for groups, so Group Leaders no longer have to look at combined data for all of their groups if they don’t want to.

It’s super simple to use the new front end reports. Simply drop a [tincanny] shortcode on any page of your site. If the user viewing the page is a Group Leader or Administrator, they’ll have access to the same reports they’re used to on the back end. (For technical reasons, the Tin Can report, which is separate from the Course and User reports, is still only available in the back end.) This is what it looks like:

Tin Canny Front End Reports

Of course, the reporting tables appear below that, but we didn’t want to make the image too large here. When you do add the shortcode, we strongly recommend that you only use it on full-width pages and that no other content be on the pages. It’s a big report.

Other Front End Reporting Solutions

Tin Canny was what people have been asking for in the front end the most, but we do also have several other powerful front end reporting options.

Our Continuing Education Credits plugin adds a comprehensive public report that allows anyone to see and audit LearnDash course completion records. It’s explained in more detail here. Then our LearnDash Groups plugin adds front end course completion and quiz reports for Group Leaders. For both of those plugins, they do work as standalone reporting tools; you don’t need to issue CEU credits or sell group licenses if you just want the reports.

We’re pleased to be able to offer a diverse selection of front end reporting options for LearnDash users now, and we know our Tin Canny users will be especially excited about the new report shortcode!

Updates? We’ve Got Updates!

It’s been a very busy 2 weeks in the LearnDash world.

Version 2.5 of LearnDash was released on November 7, bringing long-awaited features like a visual course builder and the ability to include lessons and topics in multiple courses. The latter is a fundamental change to how courses can be organized and developed.

For LearnDash users, the changes bring welcome new features and far more flexible ways to author courses. And for plugin developers like us, we have to rethink how course relationships work and find new solutions when there are significant architectural changes to the plugins we depend on.

For the last 2 weeks we’ve been working tirelessly to add proper support for LearnDash 2.5 to our plugins. This wasn’t always easy, as LearnDash changed how lessons, topics and quizzes mapped to courses—and with plugins as big and as complex as ours, we have a lot of code that has to look up course relationships, labels, and more.

We released a significant update to the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit 2 weeks ago that addressed several 2.5 related issues and also added a simple new module for easy User Switching. That plugin has now crossed the 8,000 active installs barrier (yay!) and no issues tied to 2.5 have been reported. (As an aside, with 8,000 installs and only 6 reviews, I think we may have one of the lowest review to install ratios in WordPress; if you use the plugin, don’t forget to leave your review!)

Last Wednesday we released a big update to Pro, addressing multiple 2.5 issues (with the timer, course expiry, group drip and autocompletion) and we added a completely new way to track time for courses. It’s still in beta, so we suggest testing it on Staging sites first, but it’s a more efficient way of recording time and can potentially reduce the resources used by our old timer by 80%. On less powerful sites where resources were already being pushed, we do suggest giving the new tracking method a try. And because it’s lighter, we do now allow a polling interval down to the 5 second level for increased accuracy (the previous limit was 10).

LearnDash Timer

The update to our LearnDash Groups plugin was released on Thursday. It’s less related to 2.5 but covers a lot of fixes to our Groups plugin. It’s still our newest plugin and it receives the most feedback and suggestions for improvement, so if you use Groups, you should absolutely update. There are a lot of improvements.

The Tin Canny update with LearnDash 2.5 fixes was released earlier today. We had a lot of complications with this one to make sure course attributions were correct with the 2.5 changes, so it unfortunately took the longest to release.

That’s it! Those were a lot of plugin updates for us in a short span. Let us know if you do notice any new issues related to LearnDash 2.5 and we’ll happily take a look.

LearnDash Groups for Tin Canny

Wednesday’s update to our popular Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin, which adds easy LearnDash and xAPI/Tin Can reporting to WordPress sites, introduced Group Leader access to the Tin Canny reports. With this change, LearnDash Group Leaders now have access to a powerful reporting tool to better understand the learning activities and training records of learners in their groups. Group Leaders can drill down into the courses and users assigned to their LearnDash Groups to see both summary and granular details about the activities of their learners.

Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting

As always, Tin Canny remains a back end reporting tool, making access consistent with ProPanel and LearnDash Group Leader tools. Access for Group Leaders is automatic; nothing needs to be turned on and Group Leaders can immediately see all existing records. Do note that Group Leaders see everything for their assigned groups as consolidated data, so if Group Leaders are assigned to multiple groups, they will see all data together in the LearnDash reports. (Tin Can reports can, as before, be filtered by LearnDash Group.)

We’re really excited with this release and it’s a very big change that took weeks of development. The new addition is going to make it a lot easier for Group Leaders to gain actionable insights about the activities of their learners. Combined with the SCORM support introduced in version 1.2 (which has seen a lot of positive feedback from users), Tin Canny is perhaps the most comprehensive reporting platform available for elearning in WordPress.

Be sure to check out the Tin Canny Knowledge Base articles, which have already been updated with information about the Group Leader changes. We hope your users find the addition of Group Leader support helpful!

Introducing Native SCORM Support for WordPress

The Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin has been a very interesting initiative for us. It opened up LearnDash in a bigger way to enterprise users and proved that it was possible to use WordPress as a viable Learning Record Store (LRS) with advanced reporting. Organizations around the world are now using it, but one thing that’s always been missing is a way to capture SCORM data inside LearnDash. Maybe a business had some content output to SCORM that they couldn’t republish to Tin Can/xAPI, or maybe they were using a product like Articulate Rise, which doesn’t even support Tin Can/xAPI. Whatever the case, today we’re very excited to announce that SCORM modules can be tracked natively inside WordPress with our Tin Canny plugin.

At this time of this post, the Tin Canny plugin officially supports SCORM 1.2 and 2004 as well as xAPI / Tin Can for Articulate Storyline 2, Storyline 360, Articulate Rise (SCORM only), iSpring, Adobe Captivate 9 and H5P (xAPI/Tin Can only). It’s been a lot of work but we’re especially excited to welcome Rise, iSpring and Storyline 360 to the plugin.

Please note that this is the first release for supporting all of this modules, so it’s a good idea to test your modules first and make sure data is being tracked as you expect it to be. The SCORM support is especially important to consider here, as what we’re doing is capturing the SCORM data and then using a wrapper to essentially translate it into Tin Can statements. This makes it reportable along with all Tin Can/xAPI data for consistency, but this also means it may look different than expected if you’ve been using another Learning Management System (LMS).

Version 1.2 of Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting includes all of these updates and more. We also added an easy way to clear all Tin Can data for testing purposes, additional quiz data validation and made some minor changes to user experience.

We hope you enjoy the addition to the Tin Canny plugin!

ProPanel 2.0 or Tin Canny for LearnDash Reporting?

Yesterday marked the release of the ProPanel 2.0 plugin for LearnDash, which is a very exciting improvement for LearnDash users. We’re very pleased to see it available and it makes sense to include it on many of the LearnDash sites we support. Now that it is available, we expect to see a lot more questions from LearnDash users about whether it makes sense to use our Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin or ProPanel, so in this post we’ll explain some of the differences and why one and/or the other might be appropriate for your site.

ProPanel 2.0

ProPanel 2.0

First, the 2 plugins are not directly competitive and they serve very different purposes. We fully expect to use both ProPanel 2.0 and the Tin Canny plugin on many of our sites. They actually work quite well together as complementary tools.

Our Tin Canny plugin is purely a reporting plugin for site administrators (at the moment). ProPanel 2.0 includes an invaluable tool for emailing learners by group and completion status, a learning activity stream, a Group Leader view, and easy access to assignments and essays. Tin Canny doesn’t do any of these things, and we never expect to add anything related to emailing, essays or assignments. If you rely on these things, you’ll want ProPanel.

Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting

Tin Canny, of course, does some things that ProPanel does not. The obvious, of course, is facilitating the upload and tracking of Tin Can modules, including Storyline, Captivate and H5P content. ProPanel doesn’t consider Tin Can/xAPI activity reporting. Our reporting also looks at activity trends and additional data points like time spent in LearnDash courses, quiz scores, specific activity inside a course, etc. Tin Canny is also going to push server load more, as it looks at a lot of data; it’s not recommended in shared environments where resources are limited, and it will provide the most value to large sites with a lot of users. If price is a consideration, our plugin is significantly more expensive than adding ProPanel.

In the end, both plugins can be invaluable additions to LearnDash sites, and choosing one doesn’t mean you can’t also use the other. The combination of both plugins really extends the reporting power of LearnDash.

What’s New with Uncanny Owl Plugins?

We’re continuously improving our plugins and making sure they’re the best possible products for our users. Unfortunately, sometimes we overlook communicating new features and talking about how they can make your LearnDash sites even better. Here’s what you may have missed over the last few months:

Pro Modules for Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit

In version 1.2 we added a new module to clearly label sample lessons. Out of the box it’s not always obvious to users which lessons are samples in LearnDash, so in tables that list lessons we add a very clear label and introduced controls styling that label. You can even change the text, so instead of “Sample” you could use “Preview” or “Free”. More information is available at https://www.uncannyowl.com/knowledge-base/sample-lesson-label/.

In version 1.3 we added a new quiz time control that restricts access to a quiz unless users have spent a certain number of minutes in a course. For courses where you need to prevent learners from completing a course unless they’ve spent a minimum amount of time within it, this can be invaluable. We also added some navigation controls that were removed in LearnDash 2.3 that make workflow more intuitive for learners when autocompletion behaviours are enabled. Finally, version 1.3 of the Pro modules plugin is more translation friendly.

Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting

In version 1.1 of the Tin Canny plugin, we added a new dashboard metric, CSV export options, more control over Mark Complete behaviours when Tin Can modules are present in a lesson/topic, and data for total time spent in a course (to supplement completion time. We’re very excited about all of the improvements, but version 1.2 will really change what’s possible for tracking elearning in WordPress—especially for our enterprise users. Stay tuned for most news in that area, because it will be a first for elearning in WordPress.

Coming Soon

Our next paid plugin will make it possible to manage free enrolment to courses and membership in LearnDash Groups in a much more polished and accurate way. We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but watch for an announcement in the next month. The new plugin represents the accumulation of months of development and has been used very successfully on 5 client sites.

Is there something you’d like to see next in the Pro plugin? The list below includes features we’re considering for the next release. Let us know what you would like most!

If You Use Our Plugins

If you run one of the 2,500 LearnDash sites using our plugins, we could really use your help to make them even better.

First, we field a lot of support requests. If we’ve helped you with a question, it’s always extremely useful when you let us know if our guidance worked, especially if you posted on the WordPress.org support site.

Second, if you do use the free Toolkit, let us know how it helped your site by leaving a review in the WordPress repository. We do read them all and always appreciate feedback.

What Is Tin Can? Should You Care?

What is Tin Can?

The Tin Can API (also known as Experience API or xAPI) is a specification in learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about a wide range of learning activities. Similar to SCORM and AICC, the Tin Can API describes learning data in a consistent format so it is cross-platform compatible. This means different elearning authoring applications (such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate) and systems (such as a Learning Record Store) are able to capture and report on learning activities using  a consistent vocabulary.

Why is Tin Can important?

Although SCORM (and the legacy AICC) are still the predominant elearning standards supported by most Learning Management Systems (LMS), they came about in a different era when elearning activities were limited to what happened in a single LMS. In the real world, of course, learners move around, use different devices in different locations, and do much of their learning outside of an LMS.

Tin Can was developed to address the need of learning beyond a single LMS. Mobile learning, simulations, games, and social learning are some of the things that can now be recognized and communicated well with the Tin Can API.

What Is Tin Can API
Image source: What is the Tin Can API?

How does the Tin Can API work?

  • A Tin Can enabled authoring application (such as H5P, Storyline or Captivate) creates markers for learning activities that need to be recorded. When these activities take place, the elearning module sends secure statements in the form of nouns, verbs, and objects to a Learning Record Store (LRS).
  • The LRS records all of the Tin Can statements. An LRS can share these statements with other LRSs and turn the data into meaningful reports. An LRS can exist on its own, or interface with an LMS.

You may be wondering whether you need both an LMS and an LRS. The main function of an LRS is to store and report on learning records (not deliver learning), whereas an LMS includes many other functions (such as user management, content management, and assessments) that aren’t included in an LRS.

Do you need Tin Can in WordPress/LearnDash?

Out of the box, LearnDash does not track user progress or completion of elearning modules created with Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate, two industry-standard authoring programs that allow the creation of portable and interactive elearning modules. Authoring elearning directly in WordPress is not always the right fit, and sometimes it’s necessary to leverage software like Storyline or Captivate to create highly engaging content with elements that include branching, scenario-based case studies, simulations, or even games.

If your elearning content was (or will be) authored in Storyline, Captivate, or H5P and you would like to track learner interactions with such content and/or have it integrate with LearnDash, you will need a tool like the Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin. This plugin includes an LRS that’s entirely native to WordPress (as well as advanced reporting tools, an upload tool and LearnDash integration). Just upload Storyline or Captivate zip files, or create your own H5P modules, and statements are automatically captured right inside an existing WordPress site. Combined with the most comprehensive reporting tools currently available for LearnDash, the Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting makes a powerful addition to elearning sites with more advanced reporting requirements.

A Tin Can LRS and LearnDash Reporting for WordPress!

Uncanny Owl is very pleased to introduce the easiest way to incorporate Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and H5P modules into LearnDash courses! We don’t just embed modules; we created the very first Tin Can (xAPI) Learning Record Store that’s completely native to WordPress. There are no other applications to install. No endpoints to configure, no complex upload tools, no segregated reporting or any of the other complications that have been historically required to track Storyline, Captivate and H5p modules in WordPress. Easy Tin Can/xAPI and LearnDash reporting is now available with the Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin.

The Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin is more than just a Learning Record Store. Capturing Tin Can statements is of no value unless there’s a great way to present the data—so we built a very powerful reporting tool that combines Tin Can data with all the rest of your LearnDash course data. In fact, even without the Tin Can piece, this is the most comprehensive reporting platform available for LearnDash sites. And that’s still not all—we wanted LearnDash and Tin Can integration to be as seamless as possible, so we modified LearnDash Mark Complete button behaviours so that they only appear after a user has completed all Tin Can modules on the page. (It’s all automatic; if are Tin Can modules on a page, we monitor Tin Can verbs to unlock the Mark Complete button at the right time.)tin_can_report

Everything that’s needed for effective Tin Can use is included in the plugin, from a Storyline and Captivate upload tool (that detects Tin Can vs. non-Tin Can automatically and parses XML files for slide names) and a Learning Record Store to dashboard, course, user and Tin Can reports. Simply install the plugin and everything is ready to go. In fact, the only setting is to toggle whether or not to use Tin Can (as this plugin is also a fantastic LearnDash reporting tool without Tin Can).

course_list

The reporting capabilities really can’t be understated. Here are just a few new metrics that are available for LearnDash courses in the drill-down reporting tool:

LearnDash course completion trends Average quiz scores
Topic completion recordsAverage course completion times*
Time spent in courses*Enrolment records

* Requires the Simple Course Timer module from the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro modules.

And on the Tin Can side, all of the following are available as report filters:

LearnDash GroupUser
CourseTin Can Module
Verb/ActivityDate Range

Head over to our Knowledge Base articles to read more about how the upload tool, LRS and reporting tools work.

tin_can_by_user

At the time of writing, this is the first release of a very large plugin. We wanted to get the plugin out to users as soon as possible, so there a few features that we’ll be adding in the near future to round out the plugin. They include the following:

  • Group Leader reports (right now they’re for administrators only)
  • Additional export functions
  • A report builder that lets you choose your own columns and filters
  • Controls for disabling the Mark Complete integration (it’s currently forced if Tin Can is on a page)

These are all coming in the near future! We will also be making performance improvements to query millions of records in under 5 seconds. Development testing included data for 10,000 learners, but we know we can make report generation even faster.

Please also note that the Learning Record Store is ONLY for on-site use (there is no endpoint for external Tin Can data) and has been built specifically to support Storyline, Captivate and H5P modules only. 

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