FlexTraining Management Guide
The FlexTraining Total E-Learning Solution
Copyright 1998 - 2010 National Training Systems, Inc.
A course may be defined by the administrator as requiring an instructor or defined as not requiring one. When an instructor is used, he or she interacts with the students and course content by using the Instructor Menu.
Installations where there are no courses that require an instructor need not use the Instructor Menu at all.
The Instructor Toolkit consists of three sections: Student Info, Course Tools and a Teacher’s Lounge. These sections can be used by the instructor to keep track of students and their progress and to communicate with students.
Non-instructor users may use the Instructor Menu as well. They will have the option of selecting a class to view from a list of all classes, whereas an instructor will be forced to select from a list of classes that are assigned to them.
Once you have chosen a class, you will see the three groups of options and an option to select a different class with which to work.
The Student Data section lets you view student information including demographic information about each student in your class. Information listed includes:
Each email address is a hyperlink. You may click on an address to send an email message to that student.
This feature provides a display screen that lets you see, at a glance, which sections and tests each student has completed. This is also where you may add/change a grade for all completed assignments.
Simply check the box beside a Section or enter a score for a Test or Assignment to indicate that it was successfully completed. If an Assignment or Test was completed by a student, you may place the student’s grade within the corresponding Assignment’s input box. Grades may be numerical or alphabetical (i.e., 100, 80, A, B, 0 & F). Fs and grades lower than 60 represent failing grades.
When you are finished checking off Assignments (or un-checking them), click the “Update” button.
The system tracks the completion of online tests and automatically tracks which course sections a student has read. However, it is up to you, as the instructor, to determine that a student has completed an Assignment and to update his progress accordingly using this screen.
Courses that have no instructor should not have class Assignments.
This feature allows Instructors to post announcements for any authored lesson.
Class Message Board
The Message Board is a forum where students post answers and comments to discussion questions issued. An instructor may access the Message Board to pose a question, and then the students would access it to respond and submit answers.
Also, you might access the Message Board to periodically review the level of participation of each student and the quality of their ongoing discussions. It is a good way to assess how the students are picking up the material and any prior knowledge the students bring to the course.
Class Chat Room
The Chat Room allows the user to "chat" with another user who is online in “real time” and/or send a URL address. The user can chat with an administrator, another student and/or an instructor, all within the same window.
Note: The Message Board and Chat Room do not come standard with the FlexTraining software. You must purchase a valid licensing agreement in order to access these facilities.
This menu option allows you to send an email to the entire class or to individual students without remembering or typing any email addresses. Just check all student names or check only the individuals you wish to email, and then click on the “Compose Message” button and your email window will appear.
Type a subject and your message and send the message as usual.
Add new documents to or remove documents from the Document Exchange. Also, search for a specific document or look for certain attributes.
Online Course Guide
This option opens up the Online Course Guide Viewer in the right frame of the screen. The Course Guide Viewer consists of a top and bottom section.
Top Section: Course Guide Navigator. Lets you choose which Course Guide section you want to view. Click on a Course Guide section title to see that section. The Navigator stays visible while you move from section to section.
Bottom Section: Course Guide Content. Displays the section you clicked on in the Course Guide Navigator above.
Enter Teacher’s Message Board
This Message Board has the same functionality as the “Student Side” Message Board, only this is specifically set up for instructor access only.
Note: If Message Board is not defined for your class, this option will not appear on your Instructor Menu.
Choose whether or not users can save their password when entering the Management Center.
Select multi-language support, if desired.
Define a Language
Choose an existing, “default” language that will be used in the Student Module.
Display Icons or Text
Choose to display Flag Icons or Text in the Student Module language selector. Next, choose a language to edit the icons.
Select a Language
Select an existing language or enter a new language.
Add/Edit Language Text
For a new language, translate the English values to the selected language values as they will be viewed in the Student Module and click “Save.”
Please note that document libraries is a very complex tool and is not recommended for most installations. Under most circumstances, using Course Guides is a much more streamlined way to present a group of documents to your course participants. Document Libraries are meant for people with very large numbers of documents, all of which will need to have a large amount of meta data collected about each individual document in order to make a searchable repository of documents. If you are unsure which method is best for you, consult with FlexTraining Support regarding this decision.
FlexTraining includes a user-definable set of Virtual Document Libraries. Each Library may contain as many documents as you wish, organized into various “Document Types.”
As the administrator, you define the name and location of each Library. You will need to build a “Student” Library, and you may build one Library per course, as well. The Student Library will only be viewable from the Management Center module (and should contain information about the Students, not course-related material), while the “Course Libraries” may be accessed and searched by any student who has signed on to that particular course.
Within each Library, you will define one or more Document Types. Document Types should reflect the nature of the document and its content, NOT the file format. For example, “Job Application” and “Memorandum” might be good Document Types while “Excel” and “Acrobat” would be better defined as “Document Attributes” (see below).
Each document type within each library needs to have one or more Attributes defined. Attributes are like data fields, with values for each document that help you identify the document. For example, an Attribute for a “Performance Evaluation” Document Type might be “Employee Number,” and values might be “12345” and “45678.” Another Attribute for a “Performance Evaluation” could be “Date,” with values representing the date the evaluation was conducted.
Remember that all Document Types and Attributes are defined by you, the administrator.
Any Attribute you define MUST have a column of the same name in the Documents table. The Documents table comes with many columns that make excellent Document Attributes, such as “Subject,” “Title” and “Keywords.” If you define an Attribute that is not a column in the Documents table, you will need to add that column to the Documents table.
The libraries are defined using the FlexTraining Management Center module. Library, Document and Attribute information, as well as the names and locations for all the documents you have stored, are kept in the FlexTraining database.
This screen is used to search for a document for editing purposes. Choose a library from the drop-down box, Documents, Main or Student, and any other libraries you may have created yourself. From this selection, drill down to find your document. (Tip: every document belongs to a document type and has search attributes.)
Choose a library. The system will now show a list of document types that belong to that library. In the Documents pull-down list, select a document type. Enter any search filters. Choose an attribute to sort the results by and click on “Search.”
When you see the results list of documents that match your search criteria, find the document you want to edit and click the pencil to edit the attributes.
Upload documents to a new or established library and then select Attributes. Choose a Library, choose a Document Type, browse and upload the document and enter any optional attributes.
Just as you can add to the document library, you have the option to delete documents.
The Export to CD function allows you to export a single course onto CD. This is a valuable tool for training students that do not have an Internet connection or do not require information tracking.
Not all courses can be exported to CD. The course must contain no external links and must be a FlexAuthored course. The course cannot be based on SCORM content.
You must also have a CD writer and CD writing software installed on your server in order to take advantage of this feature. The Export to CD function creates the file tree but does not physically write to the CD for you. That is left up to the administrator of the server.
You can save your exported course in zip format for easy transfer of the course from one computer to another. To take advantage of this feature, you must register the XZip.dll located in flextrainingadmin/cgi.
To register, go to Start, click Run and type: RegSvr32 “pathToXZip.dll” (replacing “pathToXZip.dll” on the actual path on your server to “xzip.dll” file). If you do not have this file, you can download it from the customer support portal or request the files from customer support.
The Courseware Data Import facility (a premium add on) makes it possible for you to use external learning systems and testing tools, and yet keep your students' data consolidated within the FlexTraining centralized database.
It brings your data, converted to a usable format, into FlexTraining for integration with your main repository of registration and course activity. You will not likely need to use this tool unless you are migrating from another LMS.
This is a utility that is run after a bug patch file is unzipped into the system, executes any database alterations necessary and updates the database to reflect versioning/dating.
If you purchase Message Board and Chat at a later date after initially purchasing FlexTraining, you will have to use the MB Import tool to setup your Message Board and Chat for the first time. It creates all of the message boards, imports all of the students and puts them into the correct classes. Customers without Message Board and Chat will not need this tool.
The API Link Maker function creates URLs that can be sent to students to enable a quick login. This can be valuable for demonstrating FlexTraining to potential students.
You can create an API link based on an email address, student number, unique id, student name, password or any combination of these items.
The StyleSheet Editor specifies the appearance of screens and text in the Student Module. Make sure you are familiar with CSS usage and syntax before attempting to edit this sheet. Colors are specified in standard “#RRGGBB” format (red, green, blue).
A word of caution. Make changes at your own risk. If you create undesired results, simply revert back to a previous version. A “Preview” link is provided so you can see the visual impact of your changes after saving the CSS file.
NOTE: This StyleSheet does not impact FlexAuthoring learning screens.
The Utilities section makes it easy for you to manage deletion of classes, courses, students and time logs. You can also view a list of images included in the Authoring Tool or FlexAuthoring (see image below).
Use the Diagnostics feature to proactively check system options, ODBC source connections and other various system functions. Diagnostics finds configuration errors before they cause problems.
To test the ODBC connections, simply enter the name of your ODBC source and then click the "Test Connection" button (i.e., FT50). If your connection is not set up correctly or if you accidentally typed the incorrect source name, a description of the error will be displayed along with the source name you entered.
The Setup Check facility provides you with a way to quickly locate setup and configuration errors before they cause on-screen errors and processing interruptions.
Run System Check after you add courses, schedule classes, add students or perform other maintenance activities.
System Check does not actually correct problems. It merely informs you of setup or data problems so you can take action to correct them yourself. A typical System Check run might yield a report like the following example, assuming that the System Administrator in this case had been somewhat careless in setting up FlexTraining course components:
Use this function to delete a scheduled class from the catalog. This will not delete the course structure (tests, sections, assignments or guides). It will just make that class not available to the public.
This feature allows the user to delete a course, all corresponding classes and all associated files. Everything is deleted related to the selected course. You must enter the deletion password to verify that you wish to do this because the process is irreversible.
Using this feature removes a student from ALL DATABASE TABLES within FlexTraining. It starts in a "Proof" mode, so you will have an opportunity to view a student's basic record before finally deciding to execute the Delete operation.
This function works like the “Delete Students” feature but allows you to delete several students at once.
The Image Checker allows the user to view a list of all images referenced in the Authoring Tool or FlexAuthoring. The user may utilize this list to remove any images that are using up valuable hard drive space.
This section provides system statistics on courses, skills, the authoring tool, students, users, hard drive usage and other miscellaneous statistics.
The Management Center Access Log tracks all major events occurring in the FlexTraining Management Center. This includes, but is not limited to, System Configuration changes, user creation and user deletion.
This section provides a method of removing unassigned certificates from the system. If a certificate is assigned to a class, it is not removable.
This function un-enrolls students from FlexTraining classes in bulk. This does not delete students from the student table, only classes.
This feature allows the administrator to edit the subscription dates for a student’s enrollment in a class and determines the length of subscription that will be available.
This screen copies student enrollments from one FlexTraining class to another.
This utility notifies students of their Login and Password information. This may be used with the Import Students tool wherein students are not automatically notified of their registration. Bulk import does not notify students. The administrator bulk enrolls students in the online training program, and this notifies the students of their login details. The administrator creates student Login and Password.
The Quick Tour summarizes common activities through the Management Center Toolbar. The features are divided into menus, and each menu is accessed by an icon at the top of the screen.
The Online Tutorials provide recorded demonstrations of FlexTraining in action. The four FlexTraining modules covered in the tutorials include: 1) Visual Course Builder, 2) Assessment Tool, 3) FlexAuthoring, and 4) Report Analysis.
The How Do I link offers recorded “how to” demonstrations of various FlexTraining functions. The FlexTraining tasks covered in the tutorials include: 1) Course setup completion, 2) Changes to existing courses, 3) Adding multimedia, 4) Importing students, 5) Editing student records, 6) Scheduling a class, and 7) Tracking student progress.
The Quick Reference Materials provide useful information that will assist with planning and designing your online training. The reference tips also cover learning content file formats, content authoring software and an E-learning Glossary.
The Management Guide is a PDF version of this hard-copy guide.
This section offers course building strategies on Building Your Learning Content, Planning Your Courses, Creating Content Learning, Best Practices, Case Studies and Using FlexTraining (as detailed in the Courses Menu section).
The Customer Support Portal can be accessed when a user attempts to access a page that requires a valid Username and Password. Users may log in or contact the FlexTraining Help Desk for information and assistance.
Application Program Interface (API) minimizes the steps a student must take to enter the FlexTraining Student Module. The information is technical and requires some ASP/HTML programming knowledge to implement. API may be used in a corporate intranet site in which every user would have a custom link to enter a class without having to enter a login and password or when emailing a student link.
This section contains a list of variable names and a description of what happens when those variables are passed in via a querystring. There are numerous combinations of variables, which include email, first name, last name, unique ID, student number, password and class number.
The API Link Maker (page 148) will assist you in creating links for learners.
The Dynamically Creating Logon Links section provides detailed, technical information on creating a dynamic intranet page on your corporate site with a direct link into FlexTraining, establishing your own class catalog for your learners or producing custom desktop shortcuts that link to a specific class.
The User’s profile is located on the top of the Management Center Home menu, on the upper right side of the screen.
The user can change their name, email, and update their password in the User Profile.
The Student Module is the location that all students will use to enroll in a class and to subsequently access the Student Menu.
The address of the Student Module is defined at installation time (see the Installation section of this guide). It is typically of the form:
From the Student Module startup screen, click on the “New Students” link.
If a student has previously registered for a class at this site, she may go ahead and login.
New students will click for registration. The signup dialogue will then begin with the following screen:
Students must sign in using their unique ID or email address and their own password each time they wish to access their Student Menu.
After a successful sign on, the Student Menu appears (Student Home Page).
This is the Student Module main page or “Student Home Page.” On this page, the student can view a list of all available Sections, Assignments and Tests. Simply click on a link next to the desired item to enter its page. Tests may be available only as defined by the administrator (i.e., if the administrator has defined a final to be taken only after the student has read all the course sections and has completed all assignments, then a link to the Final Exam test will be available after all the sections and assignments have been completed).
On the Student Home Page, you have access to various facilities as listed below:
The Student Home Page also lists the following items:
.NET based reports
Added a reporting module based in ASP.NET for faster reporting.
Added ability to play FLV videos in FlexTraining without needing to supply an SWF wrapper file.
Skill group enrollment email
Added ability to send email to student(s) upon administrator enrolling them into a skill group
Edit single or arbitrary test question in Courses “Table Method”
Added the ability to edit a particular test question, rather than having to run through the entire test.
Send Emails upon bulk student import
Added option to send emails to students with their login info during a bulk student import.
Show answers upon failure of test
Added option to show test answers on fail only, and option to show answers only after failing the final allowed attempts of that test.
Table Method Archive Vault
Using the Courses Table Method, allows courses and classes to be archived and stored, but resurrected, if needed. This preserves student records in the archived class, as well.
Enroll students from Skill Group Manager
Added the ability to automatically enroll students into classes via a skill group.
Skill Group Details - student enrollment
Added the ability for a student to enroll in a class from the skill group details screen.
Skill Group Details - enter class
Added the ability to enter a class from skill group page.
Added a Transcript Report to the list of available reports.
Added Password Policies to control admin and student passwords:
Disable Form Button Double-Click
Added prevention of a second click on form buttons while processing original click on enrollment, test grading and evaluation submission.
Email Warning Period
Added a "Within warning period" filter to the ‘Email Students’ routine.
Auto Enroll for Self Registration
Option to automatically enroll students into a class or batch of classes upon self registration.
Skill Group Target Matrix entry
Added an Email Target Matrix row for Skill Group Enrollment.
SCORM 1.2 Compliance
Added a premium SCORM Compliant FlexTraining Module.
API Link MakerAPI (Application Program Interface). A function that creates URLs and can be sent to students to enable a quick login.
ASPASP (Active Server Pages). A programming environment that combines elements of HTML and scripting.
AssessmentA pre- or post-test designed to measure the effectiveness of training or student readiness for the course.
AssignmentsAn action or task built into a course. Text, images, video, audio or other web pages may be added to the Assignment Directory.
Asynchronous LearningStudents are online at different times. Best suited for self-directed learning model.
Authoring ToolA tool used by instructional designers to create e-learning courseware.
Catalog WizardAdds and edits classes in the Class Catalog (a/k/a Schedule Wizard).
CertificatesA certificate of completion assigned to a course.
Chat RoomA forum that allows the online user to “chat” with another online user in “real time.”
ClassAn instance of a course, wherein several classes may be built on the same course.
Class CalendarA list of classes available for enrollment and displayed by start date.
Content DirectoryA default directory of course content, including images, video, audio or other web pages.
Content LibraryA collection of uploaded files; also, allows the uploading of new files.
CourseA collection of definitions and material, such as content sections, a course guide, tests and, optionally, assignments.
Course FinderA search tool that allows students to find courses available for enrollment.
Course EvaluationAn evaluation of course to be completed by students.
Course GuideWritten supplemental or technical materials for a course, consisting of one document per file, that are used as a reference and not accessed as part of a course.
Course LibraryCourse-related material that may be accessed and searched by any student who has signed on to a particular course.
Course SequenceThe order or sequence of sections in a course.
Courseware Data A function that brings existing data, converted to a usable
Importingformat, into FlexTraining for integration with course activity. Rarely used.
DBMS(Data Base Management System). Used by an LMS to track course structures and student progress.
DiagnosticsA feature that proactively checks system options, ODBC source connections and other various systems functions.
Document LibrariesA user-defined set of virtual documents. Each library may contain as many documents as desired, organized into document types.
eCommerceAn electronic form that redirects students to payment processing pages wherein credit card information is processed through a designated clearing house.
Edit StudentFilters that allow you to sort “student data” by organization, location, department or partial student name and edit student information.
Enrollment StatusStudent enrollment status as designated by the Administrator. Students may be “active,” “pending” or “payment” (requiring pre-payment).
Enrollment Subscription Period of time that is a designated to make course
Periodenrollment available to students.
Export to CDA function that enables you to export a single course onto CD for students that either do not have an internet connection or do not require tracking information.
FlashMacromedia software used to create computer animations.
GIF(Graphics Interchange Format). A format used to store images.
HomeThe Student Module main or “home” page, wherein the student can view a task list of all available classes, assignments and tests.
HTML(Hyper Text Markup Language). The programming language used to create documents for display on the World Wide Web.
HTTP(Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). The set of rules and standards that govern how information is transmitted on the World Wide Web.
Import StudentsA feature that imports student data from a spreadsheet.
Instructor-led TrainingStudents interact with a mentor, expert or leader during the course.
Item AnalysisA report containing test questions, available answers, correct answers, number of learners who took the test, percentage of correct answers given and an answer-by-answer breakdown.
Item BankingUsed in assessments to randomly select test questions from an established pool of questions.
JPEG(Joint Photographic Experts Group). A format for image compression to weigh image quality against file size.
Learners MenuManages student information and all their associated data, including class progress, student information, password and more. Allows you to add, edit or delete student records.
LMS(Learning Management System). A framework for creating and managing online courses and student enrollments.
Management CenterThe Management Center Access Log tracks all major events occurring in this center including system configuration changes, user creation and user deletion.
Media LibraryA collection of “dynamic messages” to be used in training content.
Message BoardA forum wherein students post answers and comments to discussion questions issued.
MultimediaEncompasses interactive text, images, sound and color.
ODBC Source(Open Database Connectivity). An application program interface to access information from numerous types of databases.
Open Source CodeThe source code for software that makes it available so that users can access, modify and redistribute it.
PayPal AccountStudent PayPal account that facilitates student payment for classes.
PDF(Portable Document Format). File format allowing users to view documents exactly as they were created.
Progress TrackingProvides a list of all profile records with the current progress for each student/skill group combination.
RolesFunctions and access levels designated by “Administrator” that impact all roles established within the training environment.
ScalabilityThe degree to which a computer application or component can be expanded in size, volume or number of users served and continue to function properly.
Schedule WizardAdds and edits classes in the Class Catalog (a/k/a Catalog Wizard).
SCORM LogA report containing results from any SCORM-compliant course sections. (Sharable Content Object Reference Model specifications).
Session ObjectSession that is created and maintained for each FlexTraining user and remembers who they are, what they are doing and the name of the database they are working with.
Setup CheckFunction that provides a way to quickly locate setup and configuration errors before they cause on-screen errors and processing interruptions.
Skill GroupsAllows you to add, edit or delete up to 10 pre-requisite and competency records for a course.
Skills MenuIdentifies student-specific training requirements for a given online learner.
SME(Subject Matter Expert). Uses knowledge of topic to create courses or serve as a course instructor.
Source CodeProgram instructions written by a software developer and later translated into machine language that a computer can understand.
SQLA language for accessing information in a database and updating entries.
StatisticsProvides system statistics on courses, skills, the authoring tool, students, users, hard drive usage and other miscellaneous statistics.
Streaming MultimediaAudio or video that plays while it is being loaded, providing a faster and better learning experience.
Student LibraryA user-defined library viewable only from the Management Center module containing information about students (not course-related material).
Student ModuleThe location that all students will use to enroll in a class and subsequently access the Student Menu.
Student NotebookA tool that the student can use to jot down ideas or other notes while viewing a course. The notebook can be downloaded for study purposes and can be used during an open book test.
Student-led trainingAutomated, self-paced, private learning model, also called “self-directed learning.”
Synchronous LearningA real-time learning event in which all students are online at the same time and communicate directly with each other. May use chat or other interaction tools.
Table MethodCourse building methodology that provides a matrix view of the flow of course events. Can be used to create, augment and edit a course. Used to assemble the actual “pieces” that make up the course.
TemplateA predefined set of tools that establish the structure and settings necessary to quickly create content.
Time Limited EnrollmentsA function that specifies the period of time students have to enroll in a course.
Time LoggingA report of the time it took a student to complete a test.
Training EffectivenessA report comparing the learner’s pre-test and post-test scores per student, per course.
UploadTo send a file from one computer or server to another.
URI(Uniform Resource Identifier). Name and address of information – text, graphics, audio, video, etc. – on the Internet. A URL is the most commonly used type of URI.
URL(Uniform Resource Locator). The address of a page on the World Wide Web.
Users MenuIndividuals that are authorized to access the administrator materials and assigned specific roles and access levels.
Utilities MenuSection to manage deletion of classes, courses, students and time logs.
Vector GraphicAn image created based on mathematical formulas rather than by an array of dots.
Virtual DirectoryA specific directory for the FlexTraining Application Directories.
Virtual GradebookThe main repository for tracking training programs, including online and classroom courses. Allows manual entry of test or assignment results for any student in a given class outside of FlexTraining.
Visual MethodCourse building methodology that provides a more graphical view of the flow of course events. Can be used to create, augment and edit a course.
Waiting ListStudents that are waiting to enroll in a course if the class’s maximum enrollment has been reached.
XML(Extensible Markup Language). Webpage coding language that allows site designers to program their own markup commands, which can then be used as if they were standard HTML commands.