Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guiding student pilots through their training with LearningZen

One of my tasks as a flight instructor is to prepare new pilots for their first solo cross country flight. When the big day arrives, the excited student arrives at the airport armed with snacks, water, map and flight plan to be reviewed before they are signed off, ready to depart. As a new instructor, it was a major disappointment to both myself and my students how many times the outcome was ‘sorry, we need to go over your planning again before I can let you do this trip’.

KHVE Sept 2014.jpg

Besides making sure that they know how to control the airplane and how to navigate to their destination, I have to be sure my student has learned how to properly plan their flight. Running out of fuel is the single biggest cause of private aviation accidents, so this is more than just an academic exercise! In order to receive their pilot’s license, a student must demonstrate the preparation of a ‘navigation log’ for a cross country trip. This included a detailed accounting of distance flown and fuel and time required, dependant on many factors such as aircraft type, winds, altitude and power settings used.

Ideally, the student learns this while attending classroom training or performing guided self-study (ground school). Practically speaking, I found that most of my students did not retain this important skill by the time it was needed, and I often found myself spending hours reviewing the material to help them prepare for the solo cross country. This is costly for the student and definitely not good for anyone’s morale or enthusiasm!

To remedy this situation, I created an on-line course using LearningZen, which went step-by-step through the process of creating a student flight plan. By requesting that my students review the course before attempting to create their own cross-country plan, I found the rate of cancelled trips due to poor planning went down significantly. Students enjoyed being able to go through the material on their own time, and seemed to learn the material more thoroughly than they did by simply reading about it in a book or by sitting in a classroom. Of course they appreciated the cost savings of taking a free on-line course instead of paying me to sit with them to go over an incorrect plan. It was great for me too, as I could be sure that each student had reviewed the material they needed to learn, and it was presented in a consistent and methodical way.  

Best of all, I knew they could safely plan their trip and now I rarely have to frustrate a student by sending them back to the drawing board on their big day!

Over 1400 students have taken this highly rated LearningZen course, which is also eligible for FAA WINGS credit.  Check it out yourself at

Steve Gold CFII

Friday, January 24, 2014

New LearningZen Update

We want to take this opportunity to tell you about an update to LearningZen which will be available in the next few days.  This update contains a number of smaller, but significant enhancements, which are designed to improve your LearningZen experience and to provide additional information to you and your students.  A number of these modifications are direct responses to suggestions given to our support team by our customers.  

Automatically Assign Mandatory Courses to All New Users

We created the ability to automatically assign one or more courses to all new users.  This will help you push out mandatory courses that all new users need to take, regardless of their specific job roles.  The selection of these courses is made by portal administrators and is done via the new “Auto-Assigned Courses” link in the Additional Tasks section of the portal administration dashboard.  That new page displays a list of portal courses and simply requires a checkbox to be selected for each automatically assigned course.  Please keep in mind that the course assignment occurs when the user logs in for the first time, so progress reporting will start after that happens.  

Group Name Filtering on Course Assignment Page

For those of you that manage large numbers of groups or groups with similar names, we’ve added the ability to filter group names on the “Assign Students to a Course/Track” page.  For instance, if you need to push out training to all groups that contain the word “Front” in their name, you could filter that word, and then very quickly drag those matching groups over to the selected list.  Then, all the users in those groups would be assigned your selected course or track.  

Transferring of Tracks from One Author to Another

When you transfer course ownership from one author to another, the process will now automatically transfer track ownership as well.  

New Portal Course List for Administrators

We’ve added another new link to the portal administrator dashboard also in the additional task area which displays the portal courses list.  This is a link previously made available to managers, and based on customer support feedback, we think this will be useful for portal administrators as well.   

Default User Import Selection

For those of you that use the Import/Add users feature, we made a small change there.  The default import via CSV or Data Entry option is now the Data Entry option.   You can still click on the CSV option to perform that import option.  

Forcing the Default Bookshelf View

Finally, we’ve developed a type of experimental optional feature and we’d like your feedback on it.  As you know, the My Course Bookshelf page contains has a dropdown where students can control which course view they see—Last Access, Course Name, or Track.  We automatically select the Track option if the student has any current track enrollments.  That functionality isn’t changing, but if you’d like to force this page to always start with a one of the three views, we can easily set a configuration item for your portal to make this happen.  Simply contact support for this.

Thank You! 

We hope you find these changes useful and valuable.  As always, please contact our support team if you have any questions or comments.  Have a great day!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Announcing the new LearningZen Universal Video Manager

We are extremely excited to announce the new LearningZen Universal Video Manager.  This feature will enable you to more efficiently upload your video content, and most importantly, it will allow your videos to be played on any device or operating system.

Here are the major benefits of the new LearningZen Universal Video Manager:
  • You can upload videos in a number of common formats, including AVI, FLV, M4V, MP4, WMV, and MP3.
  • The uploading process is streamlined as compared to using services such as YouTube or Vimeo.  There is no need to first upload your videos to those external sites, and then copy the embed codes to LearningZen.  The new Universal Video Manager handles everything right in our course builder.
  • All of the backend video encoding processing is handled automatically for you.
  • The new video smart player features device detection, allowing your videos to be played anywhere, including on mobile devices, tablets, and computers.
  • The new player quickly streams your videos, rather than downloading, which has in the past caused a delay before some videos start playing.
  • Your videos remain private to your organization and cannot be played outside of LearningZen.
Using the New LearningZen Universal Video Manager

Using the new Universal Video Manager is very similar to using the existing Media Manager.  Click the new  icon on the course builder toolbar to display the new manager.  From there you may upload a new video or you can quickly insert a video.  Other features available here include the ability to set inserted properties such as height, width, alignment, and auto start.  You may also preview any previously uploaded video before inserting it into your content.

After uploading, the encoding process necessary to make your videos playable on any device takes just a few minutes to complete.  This is a notable difference from how videos are handled with the existing Media Manager, as videos uploaded with it are immediately available to place into your content.  You will need to wait for the encoding process to complete in order to preview and insert your videos.  The encoding process is complete when the video preview appears and when the encoding status message disappears.  

What's Going to Happen to the Media Manager?

The Media Manager will continue to be available to support previously uploaded videos.  We recommend that all new videos be uploaded through the new Universal Video Manager, in order to realize the many benefits it offers.   We may decide to obsolete the Media Manager in the future, but only if our user community no longer uses it.  And, if we do obsolete it, we will ensure that videos uploaded with it will remain playable in your course content.

Thank You

Thank you for your support of LearningZen, and please let us know what you think of the new Universal Video Manager.   Watch your email for further announcements about this feature, as we will be offering training webinars and further rollout details soon.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Announcing New Chapter Quiz Feature

We hope you are having a great summer! We want to take this opportunity to tell you about the new Chapter Quizzes feature we are launching soon. We’ve been working hard to create this exciting feature and hope you find it useful. This feature was created in response to customer suggestions.

What are chapter quizzes and why should I use them?
Chapter quizzes enable you to test knowledge recently gained in the chapter just completed. Quizzes can also act as a gateway between chapters, forcing students to complete a quiz before navigating to the next chapter.  In addition, quizzes may function as practice exams for students as they gain knowledge throughout the course.

Is the use of chapter quizzes required?
No, the use of quizzes is completely optional.

How do chapter quizzes differ from pre- and post-tests (exams)?
Quizzes don’t have pools of questions in quite the same way that exams do. Each quiz question you create for a particular chapter is always administered to every student. Other than that, quizzes are much like examsin many ways,except that the list of questions you create for quizzes is separate from the pool of exam questions.

What question types can I include in chapter quizzes?
All of the question types that exams can contain are available in chapter quizzes.

What types of quiz settings are available?
Each quiz contains separate settings for passing criteria, randomization of questions and randomization of answers.

Can quizzes be used along with pre– and post-tests in the same course?
Yes they can. You may combine quizzes and either pre– or post-tests in the same course.

If one chapter in a course has a quiz, do all the chapters need to have quizzes?
No, they do not. You can add quizzes only to chapters that need them.

What is Sequential Navigation?
Sequential Navigation is another exciting option we’ve added to courses. When turned on for a course, this option requires that students navigate sequentially through the content portions of the course (the introduction, chapters, review, and exam sections). This option may be used completely independently of quizzes, so if you want your students to navigate sequentially through a course but don’t want to include chapter quizzes, you may do this. This option is located on the General Settings | Title tab of the course builder.

Do Student’s Quiz Answers Appear on Any Reports?
At this point, they do not. We are capturing quiz answer responses, though, and the reporting of this data will be added soon.

How can I find out more about Chapter Quizzes?
We’d love to have you attend one of our upcoming webinars that will further describe and demonstrate this feature.  Contact our support team, and we will schedule a session for you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Learning Tracks Feature

Happy New Year!  We want to take this opportunity to tell you about the new Learning Tracks feature we've recently launched.  We’ve been working really hard the past couple of months to create this new and exciting feature.  Here are details on the new feature.  

What are learning tracks and why should I use them?
Put simply, learning tracks are courses that you want your students to complete as a group.  You may specify whether completion certificates are given to students upon course completion, track completion, or both.  When students register for a track (or are assigned a track), all of the courses in the track are assigned to the student at once, greatly simplifying the process of assigning multiple courses to students.  

What’s the difference between learning tracks and course prerequisites?
The introduction of learning tracks has not eliminated course prerequisites.  We support both types of course relationships.  We recommend using course prerequisites when you want to link a few courses together, and don’t need to grant a special certificate at the end of the last course.  On the other hand, learning tracks are very useful when you want to link more than just a couple of courses together, and when you want to grant certificates at the end of then entire track.  Pre-requisites force you to take courses in a specified order.  Learning tracks group courses together that can be taken in order, or not, depending on which you desire. 

We’ve made one more related and very useful enhancement: when assigning individual courses with prerequisite relationships to students, we’ve eliminated the need to wait for the prerequisite course to be completed before the subsequent course may be assigned.  This will allow you to assign a series of courses with prerequisites to students. 

Who can create learning tracks?
Both the Educator and Portal Administrator roles may create learning tracks.  Keep in mind that Educators may create learning tracks that only contain their own courses, so you should plan accordingly. 

How does a student register for and take courses in a learning track? 
Students may register for learning tracks using the new navigational link under the Study tab.  That new page displays a list of all available tracks, Clicking the register button for a track is all that is required to start the process.  Once registered, students will see tracks on their familiar bookshelf. 

We’ve added a new student bookshelf organization tool as well.  There is a new dropdown that allows students to organize their bookshelf by date of last course access, course name, or by track.  When a student has registered for one or more tracks, the track view is the default option, facilitating navigation through the courses in tracks. 

Can we limit which learning tracks are available to certain students?
Yes, you can.  Just like our feature to limit access to course categories based on user group membership, we’ve created the option for you to limit access to tracks based on group membership.  Portal Administrators set these permissions. 

How are learning tracks assigned to students?
Learning tracks are assigned to students in one of two convenient ways.  First, learning tracks are available on the “Assign Students to a Course/Track” page, which is available to Portal Administrators and Mangers.  In addition, tracks may be assigned to students using the “Course Assignments” button on the Portal Users list. 

How is student’s progress through learning tracks reported?
Progress on tracks is reported using the new “Progress Report by Track” report, available from the reports list.

How can I find out more about Learning Tracks? 
We’d love to give you a quick training on how to make learning tracks work for you.  Contact our support team, and we will schedule a free training session for you.