Easygenerator to launch new free web based eLearning authoring software at #DevLearn

This Wednesday (October 23rd) we will launch a completely new web-based free eLearning authoring tool. This launch will be at the DevLearn conference in Las Vegas.

This web edition will be the start of a whole new generation of solutions by easygenerator. We will take all the experience we have built in the past 15 years on eLearning authoring and put it in a brand new product. You can register and start working with this new eLearning software by clicking the link (starting on Wednesday 23rd).

I did show the tool in a preview to Joe Ganci, here is his feed back:

“I am excited to see what easygenerator has created. Here’s a tool that encourages proper eLearning design and development by tying together the important elements of learning: set up your objectives, deliver your learning in small nuggets, and test learners. The interface is inviting and simple and best of all, easygenerator is free! It takes into account modern needs, such as HTML5 and Tin Can tracking, and does a lot of the work for you. While it doesn’t replace more powerful tools at the moment, I welcome easygenerator’s new tool as a wonderful way of ensuring better learning occurs.”

In this post I will explain what the product will be about based on the requirements we have set.

2 Learning experience editor

Must run on every device

The world has changed over the past few years. People expect an authoring tool to work not only on a PC, but also on tablets and smartphones. The published content must run on every possible device with any operating system. Ans it does. The new web edition of easygenerator doesn’t require installation of any kind, it runs in any browser. Publications can be used on every device as well and the content will be completely responsive (adapting itself automatically to screen sizes and resolutions).

Must be an easygenerator publication

Our mission is to help you to create better eLearning. One of the things that set’s easygenerator apart from all the competition is that we placed Learning Objectives in the heart of the design process. We did that in our windows edition and the web edition is completely build around that approach. You have to create learning objectives. After that you create questions to assess the learner on those objectives and finally you add content to the question to help the learner answer it. That is it.

Must be easy to use (no training required)

We want users to use easygenerator’s web edition without ant training what so ever. Therefore we gave a lot of attention to the user interface. We hope that that shows.

TinCan enabled HTML publication

Since we developed this application for the future we choose for a TinCan enabled HTML publication. This first edition has no SCORM, but we will ad that later. The idea is that this web edition will grow over the next 12 to 18 months into a solution that can replace our current windows edition. We have the next major release with new functionality planned for the end of the year. We will keep you posted through this blog and through our easygenerator website

Free eLearning authoring with easygenerator, already over a 1000 users!

Reblogged from easygenerator.com:

We launched the free edition of our on-line eLearning authoring tool November 1st at DevLearn. This week we registered user number 1.000. This post is to celebrate that first milestone. This post also contains information on extra functionality we will make available to the users of the free edition in the coming period and some facts and figures about those users.

Easy Generator Logo _free

We had a lot of contact with the users of the free edition. We have a community in Yammer and we have at least two webinars per week to get them started. Based on the feed back we received we decided on some future changes for the free edition. The highlights are:

The free edition has a fixed look and feel, which is branded in the easygenerator style. We will change this and create a look and feel which is more neutral. In easygenerator you can set the look and feel by applying master pages. In collaboration with our partners we will offer a series of master pages. There will be a number of master pages with a fixed unbranded look and feel, we will have master pages where you can do limited branding (your own logo and background image) and we will offer the ability to use customized master pages. These options will probably be available in January or February and can be purchased for a one time fee.

Question types
The current free edition has three question types. We are currently rebuilding all question types from flash into HTML. In the first half year of 2013 these HTML based question types will become available and will be a part of the free edition.

Extra space
In the free edition you are allowed to create 10 courses and your repository is limited to a maximum of 250MB. Next year we will offer upgrade programs that allow you to create more courses and have a larger repository.

User base
I also want to share some information on the user base. At this moment we have 1077 users, spread over 6 continents and 71 countries. 51% is from the United States, followed by The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Continent Graph

As far as we know about 45% of all users are from corporations and 20% has an educational background. About 10% of all users works for an eLearning company. The rest is from governmental organizations, Non Profits, Student or Unknown to us.

We are very exited about the interest in this edition. When we launched it we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers and types of users. The response has exceeded our expectations and we are curious where this will take us next year. In case you are interested you can register and activate within minutes. Just click here to go to the form.

Blogging about #DevLearn

I will be leaving for Las Vegas in less than one hour, visiting the eLearning Guilds annual conference. I will try to post a daily blog about my findings. I’m really looking forward to it, last year was great. Great keynotes, interesting concurrent sessions, lots of good conversations and contact and the official launch of easygenerator in the United States. This year looks very promising, I like the line up, attendance will be at a new record (approaching the 2000) and we will launch our free edition. Enough to look forward to.

Some figures
As I said attendance will be close to 2000, but there are more interesting figures to share with you:

10.580 – 6573
The number of kilometers/miles I will travel in the next 21 hours.

6/43 – 28/82
The temperature in the Netherlands (Celcius/Fahrenheid) and the temperature in Las Vegas. From drizzling rain and wind to Las Vegas sunshine!

Easygenerator’s booth number at the expo, please come and check us out.

The number of my concurrent session on Business objectives and Learning Objectives. (Wednesday @ 1.15 PM)

The time (AM) I will present the free edition of easygenerator at the Management Exchange Stage. I will present both on Wednesday and Thursday.

559 – 48
The number of users of our free edition (559) and the number of countries it is being used (48). We are very happy with this numbers. We quietly pre-launched our free edition prior to DevLearn to make sure we could build it up slowly and monitor it closely, in order to ensure a perfect authoring environment. But having 559 users in 48 countries in three weeks time, is clearly beyond our expectations.

Enough numbers, my next post will contain more content and stories and less figures.

October 12: easygenerator to release the free edition of her authoring tool

Easygenerator has decided to launch the free edition of her authoring tool on October 12th. From that day on it will be possible to go to the easygenerator website, fill in a form and start working in easygenerator within a minute. This edition is completely free of charge and without any time limits. If you’d like, you may preregister now at www.easygenerator.com/free (you will receive your login instructions by email before the official launch). After the launch this page will become a subscription page where you can fill in your details, submit them and start working right away.

This blog post will give you an overview on what you can expect from this free edition. There is a lot more to tell than I can put in this blog post, so I placed some links to relevant pages in the easygenerator website with videos and presentations that provide more detail.

Click the image to go to the pre-registration form

Click the image to go to the preregistration form and read more about the free edition.

SaaS service
Easygenerator is a SaaS solution, all data is securely stored on web servers and is accessible anyplace, anywhere and anytime. There is already a lot of interest for this edition, there are hundreds of preregistrations already. There will be servers located in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia to support all these users. The authoring interface of easygenerator is a Windows application, so you will need a computer with Windows to run it. That said, the courses you create with easygenerator can run on any kind of computers, browser, or mobile device.

Complete eLearning courses
This free edition will enable you to create complete eLearning courses. It will contain the ‘What You See Is What You Get interface’. With the free edition of easygenerator you can create publications in SCORM 1.2 and in HTML, allowing you to run the courses through your LMS and on mobile devices.

Didactical approach
Improving the quality of eLearning courses is easygenerators goal. Therefore the options concerning the Learning objectives, branching and adaptive learning are included.

PowerPoint import
The free edition will have the PowerPoint import tool, enabling you to import your courses made in PowerPoint into easygenerator and use the texts and images as a starting point for a ‘proper’ eLearning SCORM or mobile course. PowerPoint animations will not be imported, but you can build them in easygenerator with our timeline function.

External review
The external review option will also be included. From the authoring environment you are able to send an invitation to anyone through email and they will get access to your course through the easygenerator web server. The course will look and function completely just as the learner would see it, but the reviewer will have the ability to include comments on each page. These comments will automatically become available inside the authoring environment for the author.

There is a lot more to discover. You can embed web based content such as YouTube videos, create question pools and mor and reuse content. The free edition has some limitations in comparison to the subscription edition. You can only have a single account (so you can’t use our collaboration options) and there is a maximum of 10 courses per author. An overview of these limitations can be found on www.easygenerator.com/free , this page also contains the form to preregister for the free edition.

In order to help new users to a quick start there will be a series of free introduction webinars. People who preregister for the free edition you will automatically receive an invitation for one of these webinars. You can see an overview of the webinar dates and time slots at this page.

Why Easygenerator will launch a free edition of her authoring software

In a few weeks’ time easygenerator will make a big step towards meeting her mission to change eLearning. We are in the final stages of launching a free edition of easygenerator; it will be available in the first half of October. The official launch will be at November 1st at the DevLearn conference in Las Vegas. In this post I would like to explain why this is such a big thing for us and hopefully for the e-Learning community.

The formal announcement of the launch of this free edition will be made through the easygenerator blog and website, so will all the details of available functionality. The table below shows you the main differences between the free and the subscription edition.

The main differences between the free and the subcription edition

You can read more details at our website, you can also preregister. If you register you will receive an automatic notification when the free version is available you will receive an automatic notification and instructions how to activate.

As said I want to focus on the reasons for bringing out this edition in this post. There are two main reasons.

Changing eLearning
Our mission is to change eLearning. With change we mean better and more effective eLearning. The free edition will have all of the adaptive features we developed in the past year. It allows authors to develop complex adaptive eLearning courses in a very simple way. Easygenerator’s approach places learning objectives in the heart of every eLearning course. This leads to better didactical design, courses that will adapt to the individual learning need of each learner and it has a big impact on the quality of your tracking, tracing and reporting. All of these are important things in improving the quality of eLearning courses. We are very proud of our platform and we believe that it can pave the way to the next generation of eLearning. On top of this we will release our new Flex-Learning approach in December. It will change the way eLearning courses look and how they can be used. It is the first step away from hierarchical book-like structures for eLearning courses.

Changing the business model
The eLearning authoring world is still ruled by ‘old’ business rules. We made a first step to change this with our SaaS based subscription system. This is the next step. What Moodle did for the Learning Management Systems needs to be done for authoring systems as well. This free edition is our contribution to this process.

Click the image to go to the pre-registration form

Click the image to go to the preregistration form and read more about our free edition.

DevLearn follow up: Not only curation but also moderation and didactics

One of the most interesting topics at DevLearn was ‘Curation’ and the question attached to it was: “Will e-Learning (developers) become obsolete?”. I took some time to reflect on this and my answer is: “Yes curation is an important development” and: “No, the e-Learning developer will not become obsolete. I believe that the role of e-Learning and e-Learning developers will become even more important in the near future.” In this post I will explain why.

There is now software available that gathers information (based on RSS feeds), republishes it and stores it.The great thing about it that if you find an expert on a certain field that does this, you can tap in to his selection of content. Tony Karrer with his elearninglearning site is someone who does this for e-Learning. And it really is a valuable source of information for me. He selects and filters information about e-Learning. But can this phenomenon replace (e-)Learning?

No, it can’t. Curation filters the information and it will help you to manage the information overload. But you will have still a huge amount of information. Leaving you with two problems. Too much information and no learning experience. Curation is not a new thing at all. Decades ago people where creating publications with clippings from newspapers and magazines and they made them available to others by copying them. The only difference with the modern form of curation is that we have more information and it is digital.

The conclusion must be (as always): There is not one simple solution to a complex problem. Curation is part of the solution. So the question is what else do we need?

In order to help me manage the information overload I need someone who processes that curated  information and gives meaning to it: A moderator. Somebody who discovers trends, makes cross connections, summarizes this and makes it available to me. I want more than tapping into a persons network, I want to tap into his knowledge and experience. I do believe that there is an important role here for learning departments en developers because it is not about the technology, it’s about the content and knowledge.

But we are not there yet. learning is more than the transfer of knowledge. Learning is about acquiring knowledge, skills and new behavior. Learning is about change. In order to make that happen you don’t need information, no matter how well curated or moderated it might be. You need lessons and a teacher, you need learning experiences. That is one of the reasons I believe e-Learning will never replace face-to-face teaching completely. And the same goes for curated and moderated content. I do believe that E-Learning courses will become a bigger part of the formal learning that is offered to the learners. For me the difference between information and learning content are didactics, e-Learning developers, instructional designers and teachers.

My conclusion is that e-Learning will become even more important than it is now and for e-Learning developers there is a whole new role as a moderator. I foresee that e-Learning courses in the future could become the carrier of curated and moderated content. Of course with a didactical approach.

DevLearn day 0; an energizing day

The pre conference day is almost over. Great day. This morning I registered for the conference and I got to meet some people from the guild that I worked with over the past few months, but never met in real live. And I received the conference  bag with our logo on it, it looks great. After that I had an interview with Bill Brandon. He is the Managing Editor of the Learning Solutions e-Magazine at the eLearning Guild. He will publish his article in the magazine tomorrow. I saw his concept and he does say very nice things about easygenerator. Some quotes are:

“The new version adds content reuse features, workflow management, version control, and great functionality that applies some of the latest and best information we have about learning, in a way that will redefine the usage of learning objectives.”

“The result of this philosophy is a set of innovative features and functionalities, such as the objective dashboard, which sets up the connection between learning objectives and the content of the eLearning. easygenerator separates content from presentation in a way that facilitates re-use and supports localization and translation to other languages.”

You can read the whole article tomorrow in the Learning Solutions e-Magazine.

Next was a meeting with Cheri Bruno with whom I made arrangements for our participation in the Learning Solution conference in Orlando. Then we build up our booth at the expo and after that we went for a quick shopping streak in an outlet followed by some ordinary work (mail and phone calls).

The afternoon ended with a session with Joe Ganci. I showed him the latest version of easygenerator. Joe will review easygenerator this month and we will hopefully improve easygenerator further based on his remarks. I’m looking forward to that.

The day ended with my first meeting with our US colleague Steve Harz, who joined easygenerator last week. Despite a shared jet lag (3 hours for him, 8 for us) we had a great dinner. Steve will introduce himself in a blog on our corporate website later this week. I look forward working with Steve, I have great expectations.

Picture of the day: Steve Harz

Easygenerator is growing rapidly. Next to Steve we had three new people joining us from the first of November. Beatrijs van de Griendt as senior instructional designer, Martin Boon as User Interface designer and Kseniya Kobryn as our new scrum master. I’m proud that I can call them colleagues now. The fact that we can attract great people must mean that we are moving in the right direction.

Tomorrow day 1 of the conference, with two presentations to give, a booth to man, interesting sessions to attend and a lot of interesting people to meet. Now I will review the presentations of tomorrow and put the dots on the I’s and then I hope to have a good night sleep.

Project Tincan: What should SCORM 2.0 look like?: Participate!

Today I was interviewed by Ben Clarck from Rustici software. They do a project for the ADL to investigate what the next version of SCORM should look like. They have called this project Tincan.

SCORM is the standard of the e-Learning industry and now and then we say less nice things about it, but it is our guarantee (most of the times) that content from our authoring systems will actually run in most LMS, and that the learners progress and results are tracked and reported.

I will not bother you with all my wishes (except one!) you can make up your own and participate in the project. On their website you can add ideas, vote for others ideas and you can assign for an interview with Ben to discuss everything in more detail.

The one thing I will bother you with is that I would like to have SCORM as an exchange standard between authoring systems. Our customers invest a lot of time and money in creating content in our tools. Whenever they decide that they want another tool, it is almost impossible to transfer their content to other systems. This is what you call a negative customer lock-in. I’m very much opposed to that. I would like to create a scorm-import export for authoring systems. If we at easygenerator do not deliver what our customers expect from us, they can go to a competitor and take all their content with them!

The project Tincan is almost completed, so if you want to be heard this is the moment. Go to project Tincan, vote and talk to Ben, he really is a nice guy.

Why EasyGenerator isn’t open source

Before I joined EasyGenerator we had a series of discussions about a number of topics. One of them: open source. The question was: should EasyGenerator become open source or should it stay proprietary. In the end we decided not to go for the open source model en in this blog I will try to explain why.

Note: With open source software you share the source code of your software with everybody and everybody can contribute to it. As a user you are free to use the software without paying license fees  (see GPL license). Proprietary software is build by a company and you can’t change it or add to it, and you have to pay a fee to use it.

When I worked at Stoas Learning we represented a few open source packages (Sakai, Moodle and Mahara). My open source experience is therefore mainly based on these three. I want to answer the question based on three different outlooks: the business perspective (as a producer of software), the partner perspective and the end user or customer perspective.

Business perspective

The revenues of an open source solution are limited. As a user you don’t pay licenses. So donations and gifts are very important. A lot of open source solutions have a partner network; these partners often pay a fee (a percentage of the revenues they generate with services around the software). Still you will not earn a lot of money. This means that for your organization and for the development of the tool you can only hire a limited amount of people, for the rest you depend on volunteers. This makes it always a challenge to manage the development process of the software; it’s much harder to plan, more difficult to maintain the quality level and it is difficult to guarantee the continuity of your product and organization.

The most successful open source software product in the learning field is Moodle. It now has almost 50.000 registered installations and 36.000.000 users. The actual figures will be even higher because not everybody registers their Moodle implementation. Moodle was founded (and is still managed) by Martin Dougiamas. I had the honor of meeting him, and in my eyes he is a true hero. He started from a pedagogical vision (social constructionism) and now ten years later he still stands firm for this. He has proven that he can build, manage and inspire a huge community and he brought Moodle to the next level (Moodle 2.0 has just been released last week). But even such a successful open source solution struggles, even with a hero like Martin a the steering wheel. It took them for example years to develop Moodle 2.0 and its release has been postponed over and over again. I don’t have an insight in their financial situation, but I know it doesn’t reflect the 50.000 Moodle installations. In other words you must be a super hero to pull this off, I’m afraid I’m just a mortal person.

Partner perspective

As a partner you are directly part of the open source community and you can actively contribute to road maps and the software development. You are not allowed to ask any license fees for the software, so you have to develop all kind of services (hosting, implementation services, consultancy, training, et cetera) around the software and that’s fine.  As a partner you pay a percentage of your revenues to the open source organization you represent. But this has a flip side. Everybody else can offer the same services as you. But as an official partner you are more expensive: You have to pay your fee and you have to invest time in the community, the others do not.

Customer perspective

But for me the most important reason not to go for an open source strategy are the end users. Or to be more specific, the people in the end user organization (school, university, company, ministry et cetera) that are in charge of selecting a software solution for the learning needs in their organization. I believe that in their mind open source often equals ‘ free of charge’. This is a terrible simplification of the intentions of a GPL license, but what is worse is that they often make their ‘buying’ decision solely based on that fact. So they don’t choose Moodle because it is an excellent learning solution based on social constructivist principles: No they choose it because you don’t have to pay a license fee. Of the 50 or so Moodle installations we implemented at Stoas in last few years, only a handful of customers choose Moodle for the right reasons. This is the main reason why a lot of Moodle installations are not using Moodle to it’s full potential or even in the way it is meant to be. In general they are just being used to launch a course and that’s it. A real shame. If people have to pay money for a solution they are much more inclined to look at the added value of your tool and base their decision (at least partly) on these factors.

Proprietary but open

Therefore we decided against an open source software development strategy for EasyGenerator, and we choose the old-fashioned proprietary model. But we believe in an open model. Software packages often create a customer lock-in by prohibiting them to export the content (data) to another authoring tool. We don’t want that, so in EasyGenerator it will be possible to export your content in all kind of formats based on open standards like XML, thus enabling you to use other authoring software. EasyGenerator will connect to a whole range of software products and will let you use and re-use your content freely. We aim to faciltate a community who will share their didactical designs and content. In that sense we will be an open platform.

The mission of EasyGenerator according to Kasper Spiro

Last week I blogged about the vision I have on the future of e-Learning. What is the relevance of this vision for EasyGenerator as a company and as a product? Therefore this week the sequel: ……
“The mission of EasyGenerator according to Kasper Spiro”. This mission will help to decide what kind of features to add en what kind of  developments to take on.

No matter what you do, if you work with a group of people you need to have a shared opinion on the work you do and why you do it: our shared assumptions or starting points. We have summarized these assumptions in one sentence:  We simplify e-Learning development!

Together these words determine what we do and how we do it. I will explain this by explaining what every word stands for.

We represents the complete EasyGenerator team. We are not just a software product or an authoring environment; we are a group of people and a company that delivers an excellent and innovative service to our users.

Simplify stands for a non-technical, well thought through and easy to use solution that meets the needs of our users.

e-Learning is what  we deliver a solution for and what we are passionate about.

Development has a triple significance for what we do:

  1. We support the authoring process, thus the development of e-Learning content.
  2. Our goal is not to create software; our goal is to support development of the learners.
  3. We want to develop e-Learning itself.

This third ‘development’ point links to our long term mission. We will come up with new ideas and concepts that will help change e-Learning. We believe that making content more dynamic (see my previous blog on the future of e-Learning) is a key part of this. We want to turn this vision into reality and by doing so we want to contribute to the future development of e-Learning.

In short. We want to create the best e-Learning Authoring tool in the world and we want to innovate e-Learning along the way. The thought that  the best authoring environment in the world will probably be the most used one, doesn’t bother us at all.


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