I have written about SkillSoft before (see SaaS enters e-learning Through SkillSoft and SkillSoft and SuccessFactors Link eLearning to Talent Management). Now their new LMS brings in more Web 2.0 features to respond to user requests. Last week I spoke with Stephanie Pyle, Director of Product Marketing about these developments.
Stephanie said that the goal when they first developed SkillPort was to make it easy for users to access content. Over time they added many features to make it a comprehensive learning management system. However, the system interface began to seem dated. Users who became used to the speed of Web 2.0 applications wanted a similar interface with SkillPort.
So for the past two years SkillSoft embarked on a complete re-design adding more AJAX based features, such as drag and drop and faster response, to bring the interface up to Web 2.0 expectations. They also wanted to continue to make it easy to find and access content. SkillSoft recognizes that a LMS is a means to content and not a destination in itself.
I found it interesting that the initial aspects of Web 2.0 that customers wanted were the look and speed, rather than the social aspects. She said that two years ago users knew what Web 2.0 looked like more than its collaborative aspects. Now users are more aware of the social side and SkillSoft is going to focus on bringing in more of the social components in future releases.
There are four main aspects to the system. First, users want to go to their assigned content. It is divided into the content assigned by others and the resources they assigned to themselves. You can sort by due dates or category. You can also reorder with drag and drop. Here is sample screen for a users’ My Plan section.
Next, people want to be able to search. The new Search & Learn® feature gives users the option to search further within their initial results in order to drill down. Search & Learn results are displayed with hyperlinks that allow users to quickly view and access the various types of learning resources that meet their search criteria. Also new is the ability to view the full details of any learning resource without leaving the existing window. Previously, users were directed away from their search results into a separate webpage, which made navigation in the portal more difficult. Here is a sample search screen.
Users also want to browse the catalog. The SkillPort 7.0 catalog now displays a visual folder tree that organizes courses and content logically, allowing users to quickly drill down into various subject areas. Stephanie said they tried several interfaces and users like the familiar folder structure. You can open the description of several courses at once to make comparisons. Here is a sample catalog page with folders.
Content options include courses, books, videos, simulations, express guides, test prep exams, mentoring, skill briefs, job aids, KnowledgeCenters, Live Learning, and their Business Exploration Series. Administrators now have a more intuitive interface to create custom folders consisting of both SkillSoft and proprietary assets to align the catalog with core learning initiatives. Upon locating a course, the user can quickly add it to their My Plan section, defining goals and due dates.
Finally, users want to be able to see their progress in completing assigned work. You can see the courses in progress and those completed. With the work in progress, you can go directly to where you left off. You can filter the work by due date. The system appeared very intuitive and I am sure that users will appreciate these improvements. Here is a sample screen from a user’s My Progress section.