I need your help. I’m trying to get an idea of what elearning professionals are doing with regard to prelaunch testing. More companies are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments and making their learning more accessible, some by using cloud LM S products rather than hiding their learning behind firewalls and gateways that make learning painful. This should mean that learning is more vulnerable technically, since it’s harder to deliver the same experience across platforms and external servers can’t be as tightly controlled. But is it a problem? Are companies running into more technicals problems when launching to large audiences? I’ve never seen a big interest in (or budget for) significant technical testing of learning products. Developers might click around from a few browsers, or recruit a handful of users to test, but it’s hardly realistic when it’s a small group of testers (and platforms) doing manual testing. Moreover, with the increase in HTML5 over Flash for rich elearning output, layout and rendering issues should be on the rise because each browser handles things a bit differently. Tell me about your experiences and expectations in the comments. Does elearning need more performance and compatibility testing? How are you working […]
If you work in training, make sure you check out the free tools posted on our Free Learning Tools page. No-one should have to waste time creating common tools, so we did the work and made a few of the forms we use available to everyone. They’re all posted as Microsoft Word files, so you’re welcome to do whatever you want with them. You even have our blessing to remove the Uncanny Owl branding! Our Evaluation Form for In-Class Courses helps trainers assess Level 1 learning for programs delivered in the classroom. It can be quickly adapted to captured feedback on course content and the facilitator from your audience. The Evaluation Form for Online Course captures reaction scores for training developed online. This can be used for capturing feedback on course content and the approach to elearning. Our Venue Selection Form helps people choose the best location for hosting training sessions. With this form you’ll never have to worry about overlooking an important selection detail or having insufficient data to back up your venue choices. Right now we have 3 forms available but we expect to add more in the near future. We hope you find them useful!
Now that Grade Hacks is live, we’re excited to tell you more about what went into it. It wasn’t easy setting up a learning platform that lets us deliver engaging courseware at negligible monthly cost! Grade Hacks is built on WordPress. Cost and ease of maintenance were certainly big considerations as a bootstrapped venture, and we wanted to do as much work in-house as possible (at the time of writing, Uncanny Owl did all of the Grade Hacks work independently). Since Grade Hacks is a paid course, we used Woo Commerce to handle payment processing. LearnDash is the Learning Management System behind Grade Hacks. No WordPress LMS could do everything we wanted, but LearnDash came closest and Justin (the creator) was a big help when we ran into issues. We also tried Sensei but it didn’t have the functionality we needed and the Woo Themes support team wasn’t responsive enough. Of course, WordPress, Woo Commerce and LearnDash weren’t enough on their own to create the platform that we wanted Grade Hacks to be. We turned to WordPress plugins (over 40 of them!) for things like analytics, achievements, permissions, profiles, email, spam, performance, gift certificates, and much, much more. And even […]
Uncanny Owl’s first product, Grade Hacks, went live this morning. Our experience suggested that schools focused too much on teaching information rather than teaching students how to learn and succeed, so we created Grade Hacks to address this learning gap. Using interactive e-learning lessons, videos, downloadable tools, calculators, progress tracking and much more, we’ve created an engaging learning platform to help high school, college and university students reach their academic potential. We’re offering Grade Hacks at a special introductory price of only $25 until December 31, 2013. Check out the free trial to see what Uncanny Owl can do with e-learning. Everything – from platform integration to content development and tool programming – were performed in-house by Uncanny Owl.
Uncanny Owl is working on several new projects, and as a small startup, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) model certainly has appeal. By creating and launching a basic product, companies are able to assess market interest, leverage the community to shape its future into something marketable, and minimize their risk exposure. It’s an inexpensive way to test new ideas and make sure you’re on the right track. Unfortunately, what we’re finding is that companies are overlooking the “viable” part of the equation. The “minimum” part is certainly important to limit risk exposure and test ideas early on, but if the product doesn’t focus on the “viable” piece too, you’re going to alienate your customers and potentially kill your product while it’s still in its infancy. Without naming names (since we’re clients and want to develop industry relationships), we’ve noticed this a lot lately in the learning-related products we’re using. We’ll buy products with interesting feature sets, only to install them and find out they’re not working as expected or are missing key components that make the tools useless. When we follow up, we’ll get answers about how what we need is coming next month or it’s on the roadmap but […]
Yahoo’s captcha system is broken. Horrendously, tragically broken. Today, my colleague (who holds a Master’s degree) tried to sign up for a Yahoo/Flickr account. On the last page of the registration process, he ran into a captcha. After about five attempts to successfully enter the code, he started to laugh and called me over. But since I’ve only got a Bachelor’s degree, I wasn’t much help. We would both stare at the image, try listening to the horrendously garbled audio rendition, discuss the possibilities, then submit our best guess. Unfortunately, even with both of us straining our visual cortexes to their breaking points, it took us five more tries to finally get it right…10 attempts total. How many people would have given up before making 10 attempts at a captcha? I’ll give you a hint: Probably the same number of people that choose Google search over Yahoo. I decided to go back later to try again because I really believed a company like Yahoo couldn’t screw up their registration process – something that is so vitally important to their survival. The first time must have been a fluke. Here’s what happened: First Attempt: Looking good? No, “Please try this code instead”: […]
Last week I decided to write an article on e-learning and see if a popular e-learning news source might be interested in publishing it. Even if it didn’t work out, I thought I might be able to get some feedback and insight on how guest blogging worked. And if it was accepted, maybe we’d get a little more traffic and recognition for Uncanny Owl. Because it was just an experiment, I didn’t put much work into the article. This may have been a mistake, because the article ended up taking off and getting a lot of unexpected attention. Viewed by over 1500 people in the industry, shared over 125 times on social networks, and heralded by the site editor as one of the most exciting things he’d seen for months, the response was overwhelming. It’s kind of exciting to see industry heavyweights cite your work. The experiment was undeniably a success. We’ve had almost 50 visitors check out our website as a direct result of the article, we’ve established more expertise and the quality backlinks will help our search engine placement. I guess it also means we need to write more… Any suggestions for new topics? If you want to […]
We’re still on the hunt for the right tools for the right workflow – and we’re failing miserably. With so many SAAS products on the market today, it should be easy to find something that fits our needs, right? Surprisingly, we’re struggling. We’ve spent the better part of 2 days looking for the right tool to manage client projects. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Set up some tasks, organize them into a project, distinguish between billable and non-billable hours, track time, invoice clients, and maybe even give clients access to see what’s going on. But apparently nobody can get it quite right, and to find out what’s missing, these services need me to give them credit card info just to check out their products in more detail. So what have we found? A supposedly great project management tool doesn’t handle time tracking. Task managers don’t allow planning future tasks, and forget about durations, dependencies and non-billable time. Easy invoicing built in? Not if you’re in Canada. Another seemingly great tool won’t let us see all of our tasks at a glance – we have to drill down into 5 potential projects to figure out what’s going on at the […]
Uncanny Owl recently completed a project that required redesigning the interface for an offline iPad application that captures test data. It used Filemaker desktop and mobile applications to track test scores without any kind of network access for eventual consolidation and reporting. It did the job, but it wasn’t intuitive, it didn’t integrate with other learning data, and ongoing maintenance could be difficult. While outside of our scope, we did a little digging into possible alternatives for this type of scenario. It turns out that there really aren’t a lot of tools that support offline data capture for eventual upload into an LMS! The Tin Can API looks promising, but there are very few LMS options and authoring tools that support it, and those that do are very expensive (particularly for the capture of modular test data). There are HTML5 possibilities too, but they would require some customization to get data into an LMS. With all the interest in mobile learning, where are the tools that support offline learning? Yes, maybe something like Storyline could work, but 1 assessment question per screen is a big limitation for our scenario. What tools are you using to support offline learning on iPads?
Further to the last Uncanny Owl post, we’re finding it more difficult than expected to get certain groups to complete our surveys. We’re trying to collect data for our Canada Translates project, and to do that we need feedback from 2 groups – translators and businesses that need translation. Finding translators was easy. We just found a board that’s used by translators, posted a compelling offer, and waited for the responses to trickle in. That part was pretty easy. But where do you find random people who need translation? We’ve tried Google ads, our networks, targeted landing pages and more, but we’re still not getting submissions. Here’s one of the pages that’s not attracting interest or converting: www.canadatranslates.ca/canadian-translation/. How can we improve our participation rate? On a related note, here’s an important lesson that we learned: Be very careful with Google’s “Broad Match” option in adwords. The scope was far too broad to be of any use and we spent more on advertising than we should have. Multiple, targeted ads were much more effective.