Previously, MEA has provided training on videotapes that integrated with workbooks issued to trainees. Members, for example, would purchase books for each new employee and update video collections when new content was created. This was an ongoing expense for user companies and created distribution overhead for MEA as well.
MEA then began offering training material on CDs, and although this was more effective than sending hundreds of workbooks out each year, members still needed a more cost effective solution and a product that was easier to maintain and update.
Desiring to develop courses using a variety of media, MEA soon realized that online delivery of training material was the best option and it recognized that it needed a more sophisticated and faster way of updating and distributing its content. The association had also purchased a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) to track members’ course completions and run reports. The LCMS included a basic authoring tool, which MEA used to create online courses and host them on their own or their members’ systems.
While this was a positive step, MEA was constantly running into issues with SCORM compliance. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. Specifically, it governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) communicate with each other.
According to Don Szambelan, Senior Vice President and CLO of MEA, “Some of our members were having trouble using the training that they purchased from our online courses with their LMSs because their LMSs were not integrating well with the courses. The solution was to upload courses to a SCORM package, and even then the courses wouldn’t always fit the specific SCORM packaging required by user LMSs. We found ourselves having to go back and modify each course for our customers, which was expensive and time consuming.”
Szambelan quickly realized that the problem was largely in the course creation tool within their LCMS. What MEA needed was a more robust tool that could seamlessly integrate with their LCMS as well as their members’ LMSs.
The answer for MEA was Lectora elearning authoring software from Trivantis Corporation. Today, Szambelan notes, “We can now publish Lectora courses to members’ LMSs with seamless integration. Lectora has allowed us to develop one standard template with selectable variables for all delivery options. This saves us significant time and facilitates consistency.
“With Lectora, we have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to create and update courses and we are no longer spending time and energy going back and fixing SCORM integration issues,” Szambelan continues. “Previously, we were spending time and energy trying to fix courses that had SCORM issues or that just weren’t functioning properly.”
Szambelan also points to cost and time saving benefits for MEA members using Lectora. For example, members often want customized content for their employees, a process that is now faster and easier because Lectora offers the ability to generate courseware from basic to very sophisticated implementations. In addition, MEA employees as well as vendors can now create courses.
“Lectora’s authoring tool is great for creating engaging learning that previously we could only do in Macromedia Adobe Flash, which required programming skills and added time and money,” adds Szambelan. “We can develop much more powerful courses with Lectora without the need for specialized skill sets. Our users like the online simulations because it gives them a chance to participate in their training in ways that videos and workbooks never offered.”
In one year, MEA has created more than 85 courses with Lectora that feature many kinds of interactive media, including audio, Flash and 3D simulations. And MEA can deliver courses in a variety of ways.
MEA members can purchase courses individually or, as Level II MEA members, can view all the courses on a part of the association’s website called EnergyU. Members can provide their users with access to courses through their own LMS or they can direct their employees to EnergyU, where they can access and take courses.
About the Author: Jessica Athey is the Marketing Manager for Trivantis Corporation.