Thursday, January 30, 2014

Raptivity review by Dr.Ann Jackson

Harbinger has made six great changes to the features offered in Raptivity. They have decreased the number of clicks necessary to create interactivities with a new layout which is a great benefit to users by easing the already user-friendly process and cutting the development time.

Additional time savers are the ‘Frequently Used Interactions’ and the ‘Select Interaction Model’ screen that opens up from the stage where you last closed it. These features not only cut development time but increase the user-friendliness of the product by making interactions quickly locatable.

The new dynamic resize feature allows users to make size changes during the development process saving time and simplifying development for different devises.

The changes to the welcoming screen allows users to access many resources in one place. I love this change as it allows me to find videos, community discussions, and other valuable resources centrally located as soon as I open the program.

I am also excited about the updated search features with allows users to not only search for specific interactions or specifics types of interactions, but also for interactions that meet certain compliance requirements. I can easily find all of the interactions that support 508 compliances using the search feature.

With the increasing need to develop for multiple devises, the new html review feature is a great addition. This feature allows users to access a html preview during the development process.

Harbinger continues to meet the needs of Raptivity users by researching ways to improve their product and by listening to and incorporating users suggestions.

Note: This blog has been posted by Raptivity Marketing Team on behalf of Ann Jackson. 

Ann F. Jackson, Ed.D
Educational Consultant

Friday, January 24, 2014

Raptivity 7.7 – The best of Raptivity in a Simplified form

Raptivity team today released v7.7 which is claimed as “Simplified Raptivity” with only 2 offerings – Raptivity Essential and Raptivity Suite. Let us hear from Janhavi Padture, Vice President – Strategy & Research, about this simplified Raptivity.

1. Janhavi, what’s new with Raptivity version 7.7?
[Janhavi] Raptivity 7.7 is fundamentally still the same product; the finest eLearning interactivity builder that users have grown to love.

The most notable enhancement that users can expect with this release is the simplification of the Raptivity pack structure. Now there are just 2 packs for customers to choose from (as opposed to 14 earlier):
i. Raptivity Essential – a collection of nearly 30 ‘must-have’ interactions, to get started with interactivity building. Click here for product details.
ii. Raptivity Suite – the complete set of nearly 100 interactions. These include all the interactions from Essential and more. Not just that, with the Suite is also included the Raptivity Bonus pack for free, which includes another 90 simple interactions. That’s a total of 190+ interactions! Click here for product details.

For users who are familiar with the old pack structure of Raptivity, the Suite is comparable to what was previously known as Raptivity Himalaya.

In addition, Raptivity 7.7 also includes some significant enhancements such as RTF support on eBook, improved

Moodle tracking, HTML5 support for 14 more interactions, improved Product Help, and more. With this release the total number of HTML5 supported interactions in Raptivity has reached 125!

So in a nutshell, Raptivity 7.7 is an improved product in a new packaging!

2. Why were the Raptivity packs restructured in version 7.7?
[Janhavi] Simplifying the product offering for our customers was the main idea. Over the years Raptivity has grown and it now proudly offers customers a wide selection of customizable interactions; over 190 to be specific. However, somewhere along the way it became difficult for our customers to figure out the numerous add-on packs that got introduced. We also realized that most customers were buying multiple packs anyways, in fact many of them had bought the complete suite despite the choice of so many packs. So last year we decided to connect with as many of our customers as possible to get their inputs. After talking to several customers and analyzing the responses to the customer survey we conducted last year, we arrived at this careful decision to have a simplified 2-tiered pack structure in Raptivity version 7.7. And we feel confident that the Raptivity user community will appreciate this simplification.

3. So, the product simplification leads to price simplification?
[Janhavi] Yes, the price change logically follows the pack restructuring. Quite candidly, different Raptivity add-on packs got introduced over time and even though each had a rather small price tag to it, in the end it quickly added up. But once we simplified our pack structure our price automatically got adjusted accordingly as well. We think that just like the pack simplification, customers will appreciate the price simplification as well.

4. What happens to the Raptivity licenses/packs I own?
[Janhavi] You can continue to use your current version of Raptivity without any problem. However we strongly recommend upgrading to Raptivity version 7.7, so that you can take advantage of all the latest enhancements.

5. How do I upgrade Raptivity license?
[Janhavi] The good news is that we have some really attractive upgrade offers for anyone interested in upgrading to version 7.7. Customers who have recently purchased Raptivity even qualify for a free upgrade. Please be assured that you will be able to continue using all your favorite Raptivity interactions even after upgrading.

Write to us at to get your Raptivity 7.7 upgrade.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Experiencing the Tin Can API

The Experience API (xAPI) was formalized in April 2013- version 1.0. Many people still refer to it as the Tin Can API which was its development project code name – much like “Chicago” was the code name for Windows 95 during its development phase.

xAPI was created to provide more flexibility than what could be reported during an interaction. You can use xAPI with many different types of interactions – not all of which need to be your traditional online learning. Other potential uses include “online check-list reporting”, performance support tools, click tracking to see how well people are using their software programs, and better game action tracking.

The underlying API (Application Programming Interface) uses REST (Representational State Transfer) web services and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data to communicate. In the eLearning community, this will mostly be accomplished using JavaScript – much as we are used to with SCORM. However, since we no longer need to be permanently attached to the LRS (Learning Record Store), you can now also use compiled languages such as .Net and JAVA. This opens up a slew of possibilities. My gaming friends are licking their chops! Imagine being able to track every action a gamer takes during a simulation and the data that can be collected and then used to change behaviours.

With such a wide variety of activities that can now be tracked, how are the rapid development tool vendors doing implementing this new API? Sadly, many of vendors have only taken the first tentative step of “TinCan-ifying” a minimalistic subset of SCORM. That is to say – I completed the course, this is my score and maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you how I answered some questions of the graded exam I took.

Bah hum-bug. Why bother? The only advantage I see here is removing the need to always be “connected” to the LMS (Learning Management System) as SCORM demands and xAPI doesn’t.

OK, I get it. It’s only been since April 2013 that the xAPI has been published. But…it has been in the works for several years.

I gave a presentation at DevLearn 2013 on the “Tools” Stage called “Examples of the Experience API with Lectora, Storyline, and Other Tools”. In this presentation I showed how various tools such as Articulate Storyline, Captivate 7, Lectora Inspire,and Raptivity were implementing xAPI. I showed how to report using xAPI without any need for additional code. As stated earlier, this is basically the same information SCORM provided. I also showed how to use JavaScript skills to report additional, “out-of-the-box”, activities using xAPI when that option was available.

How does Raptivity fit in this? Raptivity was an early adopter – supporting versions 0.9 and 0.95. Raptivity is an interaction activity provider. In being this, Raptivity chose a sub set of it’s over 118 interactions to implement xAPI. That’s right, not all Raptivity interactions are able to report using xAPI.The 35 interactions in the Essentials Pack support xAPI. I think this is exactly the right model for Raptivity to follow. Why? By choosing a subset of interactions, Raptivity dug deep into the “actor”-“verb”-“object” activity sets initially created by the xAPI standard and, using that information, identified those interactions which could offer the most robust implementation of xAPI. They choose to do more than just the base that most vendors did. I applaud them for this. I do need to point out that as of November 2013 only xAPI versions 0.9 and 0.95 have been implemented. I’m not sure why but to be honest, at this stage, I don’t see that it is an impediment.

What interactions support xAPI and what can be tracked?

Interactions supporting xAPI

All 35 interactions in the Essential Pack support Tin Can version 0.95.

Category in the Essentials PackInteractions
Brainteasers (5)Flash Cards, Jigsaw Puzzle – Advanced, Classification Exercise with Timed Options, Analogous Pair with Fixed attempts, Wild Cards – Time bound
Presentation Aids (4)Dynamic Bullet List, Picture Show, Flip the Book, Rollover Word Definitions
Interactive Diagrams (4)Concentric Circles with Callouts – Advanced, Pyramid, Hub and Spokes – Advanced, Ladder Steps
Surveys (4)–Generalization Survey – Advanced, Smile Sheet, Survey with Percentage Rating Scale, Survey with two-point Rating Scale
Overview Visuals (2)Buildup and Rollover, Diagram Custom Highlight - Advanced
Flow Diagrams (2)Flow Chart Presentation with Audio – Advanced, Multi-level Cycle – Practice
Software Simulations (4)Let Me Try, Screen Familiarization – Rollovers on Components, Screen Familiarization exercise, Show and Tell
Glossary (3)Glossary, Glossary – Tab Style, Search Box
Interactive Questions (2)Branching Question – Adaptive Type, Create a Tree
SCORM Objects (2)Multi-page Assessment, In-Page Test
Miscellaneous (3)FAQ – Advanced, FAQ on Demand, User Initiated Zoom in Effect

The base activity verbs captured are” Experienced”, “Completed”,” Passed” and “Failed”. This may not seem like much, however, it’s really the object that the verb refers to that is important. A quick look at some types of objects captured with a verb are as follows:

VerbEvent examples
ExperiencedInteraction Loads, video loads
Completedinteraction completed
PassedAttempted question in the interaction and completed them successfully
FailedAttempted question in the interaction and but did NOT complete them successfully

More detailed information is available in Raptivity’s xAPI (Tin Can) Help Guide which can be accessed in the Help section of Raptivity or directly on Raptivity’s website at My suggestion is to play around a lot with each interaction, publish it to your SCORM.COM account and see what information you can gather. I’ve included the basic example I used in my presentation at DevLearn 2013 to help get you started.

Quick Example

Create a new interaction using the Multi-Page Assessment interaction from the Essentials Pack in the SCORM objects category. Create the number of questions you desire, save and select Publish. For this example I did not modify anything from the template Raptivity. When the Interactivity Publisher window appears, select your output type, check the “Publish with tracking” checkbox and choose the “Publish with Tin Can 0.95” radio button from the Tracking tab. That’s it. I then published the zip file to my SCORM.COM LRS sandbox account, opened the interaction, completed it and then viewed the Registration Statement History. I’ve included a pdf of the statements for you to review. What I like about how Raptivity has implemented xAPI is that the statements are human readable. I’ve used several other prominent tools and the statements created by some of them are almost incomprehensible.

Wrap up

xAPI provides an incredible methodology for ISD for gather data about what users do during learning activities. Because it is a framework and not a rigid standard (like SCORM), the sky is the limit for defining the types of activities and associated data. Vendors must pay close attention to how ISDs are using and planning on using xAPI in order to keep up and keep their tools valid in the learning space. Raptivity is an early front runner in understanding the breadth of information that can be collected and allowing non-programming types to publish content that can collect a great deal of data using the same publishing techniques they already use.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vision 2014 – An Interview with Ann Jackson

Our seventh interview in the series is with an another eLearning industry expert, Ann Jackson. Below is an excerpt of the interview:

What are some of the key eLearning trends you are looking forward to in 2014?

I believe there will be more online textbooks and activities and less pencil and paper and hard copies of textbooks. There will also be more schools providing or requiring students to have their own devices for online learning.

What are some of the changes you would like to see in eLearning industry?

I would like to see more individualize adaptive learning to be made available to students. I would also like to see more engaging online courses that are not cookie-cutter mass productions.

You just mentioned about individualized adaptive learning. Can you please explain in detail what exactly do you refer to when you talk about it? What are the implications of it for content creators?

Individualized adaptive learning is vital for all students to be given equal opportunity to the content being presented. If students cannot read at the level at which the content in science, social studies, etc. is being presented, they cannot be successful regardless of their abilities in that subject. Conversely, if students are at a much higher learning ability than at which the content is being presented, they can become bored and disengage. I think it is vital for content developers to provide a broad range of content that meets the needs of individual students at all levels of ability so that students can have their own entry point and progress according to their ability and learning style.

Social elearning has been talked couple of years now. How important is the social element going to be for eLearning in 2014?

As we move more towards online and individualized instruction, it will be vital to provide ways using which students can interact on their concerns related to the content and activities. Social eLearning can provide interesting and engaging ways for these interactions to occur.

BYOD –Do you see this culture catching up in 2014?

I do, however, it is vital that students who cannot afford or do not have access to their own devices be provided with these so that they have equal opportunities in learning.

What are some challenges that you foresee the eLearning industry facing in 2014?

One huge challenge that I see is providing students and instructors with up-to-date, working devices using which they can interact with the content. If students are provided with such devices by the schools or institutions themselves, the expense will be great for school districts, and it will account to not only the initial purchase amount of the device, but the expense for keeping it up-to-date or the expense on lost and broken devices. If students are required to purchase devices on their own, then families might run into the same kind of difficulties with huge expenditures for the device, updates, and maybe lost or broken devices. This will specially hold true for low income families with multiple children.

Another key challenge will be continually providing new and engaging activities for students on these devices. No longer will publishers be able to print a textbook and have it in circulation for seven years. Students are going to demand current, correct information that is relevant and engaging.

About Ann Jackson

Ann has been involved in curriculum development K-post secondary for over 15 yrs. She has a vast knowledge base of technology, both its functionality and its use in the classroom. She has also developed and implemented training for adults on a wide variety of educational topics including: effectively using computers in the classroom, curriculum development, effective pedagogy, engaging students, varied assessments, learning modalities, and integrated thematic instruction.

More interviews will follow soon. Stay tuned to our future blogs to hear from the leaders themselves!
Click here to read the interview with Bob Little, Clark Quinn, Greg Gardner, Jay Cross, Paul Clothier and
Robert Gadd

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vision 2014 – An Interview with Greg Gardner

Our sixth interview in the series is with an another eLearning industry expert, Greg Gardner. Below is an excerpt of the interview:

What are some of the key eLearning trends you are looking forward to in 2014?

I see mLearning really taking off to support more “Just in Time” and Performance Support based training.

What are some of the changes you would like to see in eLearning industry?

With the release of Experience API (xAPI) last April and vendors for tools and LRS finally buying into it, the ability for more Performance Support or Just in Time training really has traction. Unfortunately, most tool vendors have simply “TinCan-ified”

the basic SCORM calls. Right now, in order to accomplish what you really want to track with xAPI, you need to write your own JavaScript. I want to see quicker updates from tool vendors to minimize this.

Can you share more thoughts about any one of the key eLearning trends you have mentioned about previously?

m-Learning’s greatest asset really is its ability to get the information people need at the point in time they need it. Call it “pull” or “I want to know” learning. Having said that, there are certainly other methods for delivery using mobile devices. The “Just in Time’ concept philosophy is really built around

studies that show the small periods of time that people are engaged with their mobile device at a time. There certainly are multiple periods of time that people are using mobile devices; it’s just that those time periods are very short. On the other hand, when a person uses a mobile device for a long period of time in one “viewing”, it is generally when “playing a game” of some sort. Game based, scenario learning should start to be more relevant in the online learning space.

The game-based solution is one spectrum of where mLearning is going. Another is actually re-emphasizing some older technologies that fit very well into mobile delivery, namely podcasting and SMS messaging. These two items have their place in the spectrum of learning and should be utilized as appropriate to deliver a “full” blended solution for clients.

Social elearning has been talked couple of years now. How important is the social element going to be for eLearning in 2014?

It depends on the goal of the learning and the culture of the company implementing the learning. The more informal the learning, higher the chances of succeeding with social media for learning. Informal training is trending more, so this could mean greater integration this coming year.

BYOD –Do you see this culture catching up in 2014?

It’s a great savings for the company, so absolutely. People don’t want to carry multiple devices. I am so tired of carrying my personal device as well as my company issued device – especially since that one doesn’t do anything for me except get my company e-mail. There are certainly issues regarding security. Those can be overcome with current tools and business processes.

What are some challenges that you foresee the eLearning industry facing in 2014?

The preponderance of “lowest –cost” solutions to e-Learning needs means that quality instruction is taking a back seat. More and more clients are looking for Level 1 page turners so they can “buy more” and increase the library of

their offerings. e-Learning should not be measured by the quantity of titles in a library, but the quality of the titles and their ability to “change” behaviours or improve a process. Another great challenge is the understanding that m-Learning is not simply e-Learning delivered on a mobile device. There are many differences on how content should be created so that the learning content is appropriate for a mobile device.

Do you think mobile learning will take a leap to lead the learning industry?

It has to. Look at how people are getting their information today. Less and less time is spent in front of the desktop device and more is spent using some type of mobile device. Also, the trend is for more “Just in Time” knowledge transfer activities rather than multiple hour online courses. Let’s face it; people use their mobile devices as “all knowing machines”. In other words, I need to get some information right now and use the mobile device to get it for them.

Talking about the technologies, will eLearning embrace the cloud technology in the coming times?

Yes. In fact, you can see many vendors using the cloud to not only to distribute their tools as “Software as a Service”, but also

as a repository for the learning objects their tools are creating. These objects can then be embedded into content created by other tools or as stand-alone learning interactions.

About Greg Gardner
Greg Gardner is Founder - g2Learn. He leads the Online Learning Technical Team in the Center for Advanced Learning and Simulation group. His responsibilities include for evangelizing new technologies in the online learning spaces of e-Learning, mobile learning and most recently social learning, developing efficiencies within courseware development and integrating courseware with various Learning Management Systems. He has created e-Learning for Compaq, Microsoft and numerous state and federal government agencies. Mr. Gardner has developed e-Learning content using Lectora, Articulate Storyline and Studio, Adobe Presenter, Captivate, SmartBuilder, and Rapid Intake's Unison. His team is leading development efforts in mobile learning for many clients. He has presented at many conferences nationally.

More interviews will follow soon. Stay tuned to our future blogs to hear from the leaders themselves!