Dreamweaver, CourseBuilder and eLearning Templates

One bonus of Adobe’s eLearning Suite (eLS) product is a few extra tools that are not normally included with the various products. For instance, Captivate comes with a ‘Multi-SCO Packager’ if licensed through the eLearning Suite, and Flash comes with a few quiz templates and ‘learning interaction objects’ that, again, are not included with Flash outside the eLS.

Another such additional feature is the CourseBuilder extension and eLearning templates that come with Dreamweaver as part of the eLearning Suite. The CourseBuilder extension has actually been around for years in various forms. The current iteration provides an interface to select an interaction and setup the parameters, including SCORM 1.2 and 2004 support.

Now, the way this extension is integrated with Dreamweaver, the term ‘course builder’ could be a bit of a misnomer unless you simply want your course to consist of a series of quiz questions…. Through the Insert > CourseBuilder interaction, that’s all CourseBuilder appears to be – an easy way to create quiz-type questions – though there are a lot of options, from standard multiple choice, to drag’n’drop, to Likert scales. All in all, there around 25 interaction options to choose from.

The gem of the CourseBuilder extension, however, is the ‘eLearning templates’ designed for a range of the more common types of courseware, like Compliance or Soft Skills. Between these templates, providing some decent designs, and the included CourseBuilder interactions, one can certainly develop a pure HTML-based course for mobile/mLearning requirements.

However, helpful these assets may be, there are still issues. With the quick advance in browsers, compatibility is sure to be something that will need significant testing. For instance, the drag’n’drop interactions often have problems with various browsers – especially on mobile devices – enough that we wouldn’t recommend using them at all. And while we’ve not thoroughly tested all the templates, just being ‘templates’, some restrictions on layout and style will be in place…and, again, compatibility with a variety of platforms and browsers/versions can cause issues. And while there is extensive CSS, it’s not really ‘mobile-optimized’ at this point.

The larger issue is, unfortunately, a lack of ‘finish’ to this integration. You can put together a fairly solid eLearning course with the templates and interactions….but then what? Unlike most other tools, DW does not provide any sort of ‘publish SCORM package’ option. You are left to your own devices to figure out how to build an imsmanifest file and how to bundle everything up properly so your LMS will accept it.

There are a few extensions in the Dreamweaver Exchange that can help, but none seem to have been updated since 2004… And there are other ‘manifest makers’ out there…in fact, you could probably cobble something together with a SCORM-published Captivate lesson. BUT why should you have to? Adobe is SO close with a solid HTML-solution with the CourseBuilder extension… Fortunately, of course, here at ICS we have the knowledge and programming skills to make such SCORM wrappers ourselves. If you find yourself intrigued by the DW eLearning options but get stuck on that last step, drop us a line.

So while the overall integration needs refinement, all these features are helpful and can have their place in the development process. We hope the specific tools for eLearning and mLearning development continue to be improved to work with advancements in HTML and browser support, and are included with the various (assumed) forthcoming eLearning Suite 3.0 products.