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Would you use a Do It Yourself - Online Training Application?

    • 32 posts
    December 15, 2007 6:44 AM EST

    All,

     

    I wanted to provide easy, distributed training (Orientation, Policies, Procedures, etc) for employees. I found a few “Do It Yourself” web-based tools but all were expensive (at least to my way of thinking). So I wrote my own online training framework that allows me to create a module, with one or more lessons. An assessment can be added at each lesson level and at the Module level. It is simple (HTML / CSS based). The training units are easy to create and maintain and assessments are scored automagically.

     

    I realized that there might be a market for a low-end, web-based, Do-It-Yourself training tool (especially for home-schoolers and small businesses). With two – to - three weeks effort I could transform this into a commercial web-based product. The plan would be to host it on my own servers so that clients would only need a web-browser to create and serve training. Unlike other available tools I would allow the client to create and re-use attendee accounts and training modules. The product would have a yearly subscription fee based on level:  (1-10 attendees, 11-50 attendees and so on) and up to “n” (50 to 100) active training modules (meaning you could delete attendees or modules and reuse the slot for each with out incurring additional cost).

     

    My question to you is would you (as a small business owner) be interested in such a product, and what would you be willing to pay for such a product?

     

    Thank you,

     

    David

     
    • 32 posts
    December 16, 2007 8:04 AM EST

    Erin,

    I should have anticipated this request better . So... I went ahead and quickly created a site and ported a section of one of my internal training units to the site. You can find it at TrainingCanvas.com . What you will find is a training module with one leson and an assessment. As I said above I would need to spend about 2 ~ 3 weeks to create a simple to use interface so that clients could create their own attendee lists, modules and run reports on assessments. So the section that allows you to create modules does not exist yet. I currently use notepad which I expect would be inappropriate for most users . I look forward to your feedback.
     
    David
    • 32 posts
    December 16, 2007 8:16 AM EST
    How does your concept differ from this application, where you convert a PowerPoint presentation to Flash? (link)
     
    Good question. I was not aware of this product. It looks interesting. How would my product differ? In several ways:
    1. The application is question is software that will need to be installed and maintained. My product will be web-based and only require a web-browser. Updates to my product would be automatic, transparent and free.
    2. The application in question is more expensive than what I had in mind (especially for the first tier pricing).
    3. The application in question would require you to re-create and re-distribute a lesson set if you made any changes. My product can be changed on the fly - users would only need to hit the "Refresh" button to see the latest version of a client`s unit.
    4. The application is question requires a knowledge of MS Powerpoint and presumbably some knowledge of flash. My product would require nothing other than basic typing and mouse skills.
    I could probably find other differences if I downloaded their 30 day free trial version.
     
    Thanks Craig,
     
    David
    • 32 posts
    December 17, 2007 1:41 AM EST
    Hi David,

    The only thing was that I didn`t get a 100% but it didn`t tell me what questions I got wrong. Maybe I missed it but at the top it told my % and it would really help to know what I got wrong.

     
    Kathy,
     
    You are correct. You and Craig are racing ahead of me . The information is there behind the scenes, just not displayed yet.
     
    To answer the other question - yes a client will be able to embed the training course into their own web-page using a simple IFRAMES statement (e.g. <iframe href=http://www.trainingcanvas.com/presentor ></iframe>). However if you try this at the moment with the sample site I set up you will probably receive an error when you attempt to navigate off of the module page. I threw the sample site together on Sunday in response to Erin`s request and used a simple state cacheing scheme that probably will not work under an iframe (I am drifinting in to geek speak so I will stop now ). Give me a few days and both will be there.
     
    Craig and Erin, can you explain further your idea for demos? I can see training and simple presentations. What did you have in mind for demos?
     
    I am happily surprised (and a bit excited!) at the response I am getting to this idea. Thank you very much for your feed back.
     
    David
    • 32 posts
    December 17, 2007 1:54 AM EST
    I would certainly use your service for tutorials for clients. What formats would you allow?
     
    Thank you Erin! What formats? At the moment simple HTML (or XHTML to be exact). I should be able to support anything that can be embedded into a web-page - I just need to adjust the framework a bit to support new things. Currnetly I allow lists, tables, links and pictures (since this is all I needed at the time). With a few minutes work (per item) I could also support embedding YourTube videos, MS Office documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), Flash files, sound files (so the content could have music or a voice over) etc. Anything that a normal web-page can support. I guess this is all part of finding out what the customer would want in a training application. What did you have in mind?
     
    Regards,
     
    David
    • 32 posts
    December 21, 2007 4:40 AM EST
    All,
     
    I appreciate your feedback on this! I am going to go ahead and create the interface application and will re-post to ask for some BETA testers. Email if you are interested. I will leave the demo app up for the next few weeks so that anyone interested can view it.
     
    Regards,
     
    David
     
    "Free what you malloc()"
    • 32 posts
    December 27, 2007 10:20 AM EST

    Not to be a naysayer, but you can do all this with moodle.org for free.
     

     

    Delzakiya,

     

    Thank you for your comment. You had me wondering for a moment. I had never heard of MOODLE so I went to their site and created an account. It is an interesting concept but widely different from what I am doing. Through this I am not attempting to tear down MOODLE (which is probably a good product) but I want to contrast what I am doing in relation to this product.

     
    Please note that the following is based on a quick site visit (just over an hour) spent reading through the web-site and playing with demos.
     

    MOODLE appears to be a software product that you have to install on to your own hardware.

     

    The product I am working on is web-based and requires nothing more than a web-browser.

     

    MOODLE does not appear to support easy integration with your current web site without a lot of modification.

     

    The solution I am working can be used stand alone or can be imbedded to your own site using a simple IFRAME statement.

     

    MOODLE is also complicated enough that the website promotes two different books that teach you how to use the product. Since I have not set MOODLE up myself I cannot speak to the ease or difficulty with which MOODLE can be installed but the existence of the books speak volumes. Also, throughout the site the documentation mentioned asking your system administrator to do this and that.

     

    The solution I am working on requires no skill other than basic mouse and keyboard skills. It does not require you to hire a technical guy.

     

    MOODLE appears to be geared to work with large organizations (though the web-site does say that it is intended for one to any number of users).

     

    The solution I am working on will be geared to smaller groups and those who want to prepare a quick presentation without a lot of mess.

     

    As a developer what I liked about MOODLE was that it is opened sourced and extensible both of which excite a technical person. My product is not open source and (while customizable) is not extensible – not as exciting to a programmer. However my market is not technical people but those who are non-technical.

     

    Now, why do you want to pay for something when you can get something similar for free? Free is very enticing. But please add up the cost of free. In this instance the cost of a server plus maintenance, plus the time required to learn the product (both books are more than 250 pages long). If you cannot do the technical work yourself you will need to pay for a technical person to do the installation, upgrades etc.

    .

    If you have any question please do not hesitate to email me.
     
    Regards,
     
    David
    malloc12/27/2007 4:23 PM
    • 15 posts
    December 27, 2007 6:33 AM EST

    Not to be a naysayer, but you can do all this with moodle.org for free.

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    Need web copy, press releases, articles for your website or newsletter, or even a video, we can do it.

    Del Williams Media
    Your Communications Specialist

    • 621 posts
    December 15, 2007 7:12 AM EST
    Hi David, is there any way we could have a peak so that we can answer that question better. It sounds promising and I and others may be interested.
    Erin

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    • 621 posts
    December 16, 2007 1:59 PM EST
    David,
    I think what you created is absolutely wonderful, and amazingly fast. I like the simplicity of it and the end quiz. I think that this application should be built out further maybe calling it something with training and demos where companies, educators and  others can easily and affordably construct demos and training material. I am excited to see where you go with this and agree, being able to embed into we pages for users would be great. I would certainly use your service for tutorials for clients. What formats would you allow?
     
    Erin

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    Our Goal Is Your Success!
    Founder Girls with Goals