You may not know this about me, but I spent most of my corporate career in the training field. I was still working my corporate job when I started my business and to my surprise, I found that many of the tools and techniques used to market an online business lent themselves very well to the world of corporate training – WordPress being one of them.
In order to easily deploy and track online training, you need to have a Learning/Content Management System in place. And those don’t come cheap. So for companies under 1000 employees or without the budget for a learning system, WordPress could be the answer. That’s why this plugin review is particularly close to my heart. This plugin is a solution that brings my two worlds that much closer together.
With the blessing of your IT department or by using an outside hosting provider, you can manage, deploy, and even track training content at your company using a WordPress site. There’s just one problem. The Instructional Designers who build training modules usually don’t have web design skills. And getting online training modules uploaded and working in WordPress is a manual process that takes more time and HTML/website knowledge than your average Instructional Designer possesses.
The Insert or Embed Articulate Content into WordPress plugin by Brian Batts from ArticulateFreak.com is built to take online training modules built in Articulate Presenter or Articulate Storyline and make it simple to upload and manage them in WordPress. (In case you’re not in the training field, the Articulate is one of the leading elearning development software programs.)
I tested the free version of this plugin and while it’s fairly simple, it does its job and it does it well. When the plugin is activated, you’ll have a button on your pages and posts you can click to upload a course.
Simply upload your .zip file through the plugin interface, choose exactly how you want the course to display to the user and you’re done.
Click the Launch button to see an Articulate Storyline module I uploaded as a lightbox with the vintage theme. You can embed the course on a page too, but I think this lightbox effect is pretty cool.
The files are kept in an upload folder behind the scenes and can be replaced with new versions of the module fairly easily. If your WordPress installation is outside the company firewall, security of the modules would be handled through the native WordPress password protect feature, or by using a membership plugin like Optimize Press.
You can deploy elearning, but you can’t track
Don’t get me wrong, this solution is no Learning Management System (LMS) replacement. While the bookmarking features seem to work just fine, there no tracking features included. So even if you have a SCORM enabled module, you won’t be able to see who accessed the training or what score they received.
I asked Brian if he had any plans for adding tracking to the plugin. While he’s keeping his eye on it, there are no plans to implement tracking in the near future. A part of that is because right now the best options for tracking would involve connecting to third-party systems.
Until I can make WordPress act like its own Learning Records System (LRS), I won’t implement a tracking feature in the plugin. I’ll continue to focus on making it as simple as possible to get your elearning content out into the world.- Brian Batt
But will it stick around?
The Articulate plugin is the only plugin I’ve found that will help you deploy Articulate modules in WordPress. So what happens if the developer abandons it like so many other WordPress Plugins?
Well, you could be out of luck. With every update of WordPress core is potential that plugin would stop working if the developer doesn’t update it. And since there aren’t any other Articulate plugins (at this moment), your only option would become manual uploads. However, given Brian’s self-professed absolute dedication to Articulate (which you can read about on his website), I feel that this is one plugin that will be around for a while.
If you’re looking to deploy true, interactive elearning modules rather than just video training, this plugin will save you time and aggravation. It also will make your training interface look fabulous.