With eFrontPro, the new, revamped, version of our popular eFront LMS platform we made a (sure) bet into the feature of e-learning, incorporating the latest web technologies, adding several long requested features and streamlining our codebase to serve as the foundation of our future work.
While doing that we strived to keep everything that made eFront so popular and intuitive.
In this post we’ll have a look in the features eFrontPro offers for organizing your courses. Some of them will be familiar from eFront, others are new, and some have minor or major changes in their implementation.
But they were all designed to work together to make your life easier, based on our research into how you use our products.
So, let’s have a look.
Users are the foundation of user management in eFrontPro. The platform keeps a single, unified, user database, so you can manage and keep track of all your users, whether they are admins, instructors or learners.
Users can have a type (User Type). This corresponds to their role in your e-learning organization (e.g. student, content editor, etc), and it’s where you manage what they can do on the platform.
Users can also belong to a Branch. A Branch is a division of your e-learning organization, which can have it’s own professors, courses and students.
An organization, for example, that has offices in different cities, could have a London branch and a Manchester branch. Or you could have a branch per department (“Humanities”, “Mathematics”, “Business”).
Or both, actually, as branches can be organized in whatever hierarchy fits your organizational needs.
Users can belong to one or more Groups. This allows you to treat all of the users in a group as a single entity. You can send messages to the users of a group directly, assign them courses, or see aggregate reports about them.
Your students can also be assigned Jobs (e.g. on works in “Marketing”, the other is an “Accountant”).
This might not make sense for a general e-learning offering, but it’s very useful for organizing the learners in an enterprise e-learning deployment, where they are taught different classes depending on their role in the company.
Users can also belong in an Audience. Audiences are logical groupings of users according to a list of criteria you define, like the Branch they belong to, their Job, their User Type, or even custom attributes that you have defined.
The difference between Groups and Audiences is that the latter are dynamic. If you have used iTunes in the past, think of it as something like the “Smart Playlist” feature.
Between User Types, Audiences, Branches, Jobs and the like (not forgetting the custom attributes you can add), you have the flexibility to organize your users in any way you like. Which takes us to our next topic: Courses.
Courses are the main entity into which you organize your content in eFrontPro. Courses in eFrontPro can be remote (e-learning) or class based, allowing for hybrid learning scenarios. This is defined in the course’s type.
You can assign Users, Lessons and Skills to a Course.
A course’s users are, of course, the students that take the course, and *skills* describe some specific knowledge or experience that is either offered by the course (e.g. completing this course will give you that skill), or required by the course (and can be obtained by taking another course).
Skills are an intuitive way of setting up the prerequisites for taking a course.
Courses also belong in Categories, which can be a flat list (“History”, “Math”, etc) or a hierarchy (“Ancient Languages/Latin”, “Ancient Languages/Greek”) with as many levels as you need to map your content.
Finally, courses take place in a Location. Locations describe the venues (real of virtual) that your classes or meetings will take place. They also allow you to organize your class schedule and inform your students of upcoming meetings.
Students can also view metadata about a location (such as street address, telephone, url, timezone, etc), which is especially handy in hybrid learning scenarios.
Below Courses we have Lessons. A lesson organizes a single unit of a courses’ material, and can contain text or multimedia content, files for download, tests and quizzes.
And there you have it. Those are all the main organizational tools that eFrontPro offers.
Between them, you have everything you need to cover any e-learning use case, including the flexibility to set your virtual school up in the way that you want it.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more posts on eFrontPro, eFront, e-learning and course creation in general.