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).

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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.

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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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Tin Can for WordPress is Coming!

Update: Our Tin Can/XAPI LRS plugin with LearnDash reporting is now available. Read the announcement.

We’ve seen a lot of excitement for Tin Can use in WordPress in the past but very little use of it in the real world. After all, every Tin Can solution relied on a reporting application outside of WordPress. It meant segregating reporting and figuring out how to send Tin Can statements externally, plus reports tended to be too granular and not practical. Many LRS solutions obfuscated code and prevented customizations, so making improvements was impossible. We discouraged Tin Can use for our  clients because capturing data—and, more importantly, making the data meaningful—was just too cumbersome. Of course, the lack of a viable Tin Can solution also meant that WordPress wasn’t a useful platform for larger organizations that tended to create elearning modules with tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and others.

course_table

We decided it was time to add Tin Can to WordPress. We just finished building a complete Learning Record Store (LRS) that’s entirely native to WordPress. It captures Tin Can statements with no configuration. Just upload Storyline or Captivate zip files, or add H5P modules, and statements are automatically captured right inside an existing WordPress site. And it integrates seamlessly with LearnDash, the leading WordPress LMS plugin.

Please note that all images in this post may change before the final release but were all generated with our plugin from live data. Additional charts will be added before release.

tin_can_report

Of course, Tin Can data isn’t of much use unless it’s feeding a robust reporting platform. We built that too! We’re still wrapping up the reporting work, but it’s going to add a lot of insight to administrators of elearning programs powered by LearnDash. It fact, it reimagines reporting for LearnDash data in a big way. Here are just a few of the metrics you’ll be able to see with our reporting:

  • course_chartAverage completion time of every course
  • Tin Can statements by verb, LearnDash Group, module, user, or almost any other combination you can think of
  • Course completion trends
  • Tin Can statement trends

There’s a lot more available, of course, but the metrics above are examples of data that was never before available for LearnDash courses. There are also drill down capabilities, so you can start from a view of overall course activity and click down to seeing which topics have been completed by a particular user. It’s all inside WordPress too—there are no CSV files or external applications to worry about. We support instant sorting, filtering and searching inside javascript data tables too.

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The plugin will be available before the end of August, 2016. We’re very excited about it, but it’s also new territory for us and we want to make it as useful as possible to people using Tin Can modules in WordPress. Do you use Tin Can on your LearnDash sites, or are you considering it? Tell us what we can do to improve Tin Can in WordPress in the comments below!