Several years ago on this blog, we reviewed two web-based content development apps: Claro (from dominKnow) and Composica. Recently, dominKnow reached out to us to get our opinion on the current iteration of their web-based tool, dominKnow | ONE, which contains an updated version of Claro as well as many other tools.
At the time of the last article, dominKnow had created a robust web-based app in Claro. The only major negatives from that review have been alleviated by continued development and the advancement of technology. In dominKnow | ONE:
- Themes, templates, and objects are extensively customizable and reproducible.
- Everything is completely taken care of by a standard web browser. Flash (may it rest in peace), and Java are not necessary. (Side note: you can author in Mozilla Firefox, but dominKnow does not officially test/support this browser, so maybe have a second look in another browser.)
In addition, dominKnow | ONE includes a plethora of additional features. Rather than list out what all is included, we wanted to focus on a few key features that you might not find in your current content development app.
Fixed Pixel and Responsive Design
Inside dominKnow | ONE you will find that the Claro app has been joined by the Flow app. Claro was set up with the assumption of desktop-based viewing, so it resizes content to tablets and phones as if they were just small monitors: all the content stays in the same relative place but just becomes larger/smaller (“Fixed Pixel Design”). Flow, which has ALL of Claro’s tools and features, was set up without an assumption of the viewing experience, so content shifts place and changes format to adapt to the device (“Responsive Design”).
Mobile View – Fixed Pixel Design
Mobile View – Responsive Design
Therefore, starting your design in Flow, where you can specify how the content should display on different devices, allows you to offer learners a better mobile user experience without losing any design and interaction possibilities (again Flow contains ALL of Claro’s tools and features!).
Course and Job Aid
In addition to viewing format (as well as eLearning publishing format, which I will touch on below), dominKnow | ONE allows designers to publish a course or parts of course out to a job-aid format. This job aid does not have to be just a printed list of slides (though it could be) but rather can be a well-designed checklist or visual of course content that learners can use on the job to improve their performance. The idea of creating a helpful “take-away”, which is what designers ultimately want learners to do, is planned into and made literal with this feature.
A video (created entirely with dominKnow | ONE) inside a course.
The main steps of the video published as a step-by-step handout (auto generated from Capture, their software sim / screencast tool)
Accessibility Design in the Flow of Work
Typically, and unfortunately, accessibility features are tacked on to the end of most content development tools: if you know your way around, you can add alt text to images for those with visual impairments and set the tab order for keyboard and screen reader users. dominKnow | ONE, however, features prominently displayed accessibility tabs in its options whenever you edit a screen or object. These tabs include lists of ways to make the screen or object in question more accessible. The app also alerts designers to places where accessibility elements have been ignored. By placing accessibility more prominently in the designers’ toolkit, dominKnow | ONE supports early inclusion of accessibility into a learning object’s design, making the final product more accessible and more usable for everyone.
Prominent accessibility warning on an imported images with no alt text
Specialty Feature: Pushing Updates
This next feature is somewhat niche, but if your needs fit into that niche, you might just do a dance of joy. For designers that provide the same course to several different systems, providing updates to those courses can take a while. First, you make the changes. Then you publish. Then you login and upload the changes to EVERY.SINGLE.SYSTEM. This publishing and upload routine even gets old when loading courses into just one system. In the case of courses created in dominKnow | ONE, you have the option to publish out a SCORM “stub” to upload to your systems, which then refer back to dominKnow | ONE ’s servers. This means that when you make updates to your course, you can choose to update the version your LMS (or other) systems are pointing to. Updates done. This feature, called Convey, comes at an extra cost based on the number of learner registrations to a course; however, at medium and large volumes, the cost is just pennies per registration. Certainly, this is something to consider when managing multiple systems.
Specialty Feature: LMS Reliability + Interaction Tracking
Finally, we would like to point out a feature that is tucked away in the eLearning publishing settings that, really, should be standard everywhere but is not. dominKnow | ONE publishes eLearning to all the current standards (SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC, cmi5, xAPI, etc.), but also lets you combine any publishing type with xAPI. In this way, you can publish your courses out to SCORM to get the reliable signaling that many systems rely on to determine completion, timing, and scoring, while ALSO setting up a way for user interaction data (“What buttons did a user push?”, “Which branched path did a learner take?”, “How long did the user take to make a decision?”) to be sent to a Learning Record Store (either inside the LMS or outside) where this data can be analyzed. In this way, dominKnow | ONE addresses one of the big problems of the adoption of xAPI, namely the idea that xAPI has to replace SCORM. Why do that when you can have the best of both worlds?
dominKnow | ONE publishing screen with concurrent settings
for SCORM (for the LMS) and xAPI (for the LRS)
One of the complaints that used to be leveled against web-based content development apps, was that they had limited feature sets. This was apparently the case a few years back with dominKnow’s Claro regarding its visual design capabilities. Some, of course, saw and see this as a positive: offering a lighter-weight tool that is easy to navigate and quick to build with, especially for beginners. Indeed, this might be okay for people who only occasionally need to author content. However, if you spend any appreciable amount of time designing and building content, you will almost immediately run into the boundaries of such tools.
dominKnow | ONE illustrates that web-based content development apps can and have evolved to offer robust feature sets that can deliver not only quality visuals but also helpful job aids for learners, publishing help for authors, interaction tracking for analysts, and accessible content for everyone. Plus, with just a bit of time invested into using the thoughtfully placed in-platform help tools, even beginners can get started easily with a set of tools that will support their mission of creating powerful learning experiences.