eClass - From Custom Content to Full-Fledged Application Training Authoring
When Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) approached us in 2006 to build 20+ courses for SAP training we were thrilled. We were just getting into e-learning and glad to see that companies were starting to notice this emerging efficient approach to corporate training. Our task was straightforward – get some screenshots from the SAP system, make the UI of the course intuitive and arrange the required information in a logical manner. Then we gave it a second thought.
We calculated that it would be more cost-effective if we were to build a content-authoring tool. It would not only streamline the production of the 20+ courses, but also allow CCH to add new courses and update existing ones. We offered this alternative to CCH, who welcomed it because they viewed SAP training as a long-term commitment of their company. We helped our client build a tutorial structure similar to the way transactions are organized in SAP. We abstracted each step so we could build a unified interface and learning workflow. This process was the foundation of eClass.
After extensive testing and more than a few modifications, we ended up with a stable, intuitive Flash-based training solution for SAP transactions. This is an example of what one step of the training workflow in the course player looks like:
The key UI elements are clear-cut three-tier navigation, large screenshots, succinct and relevant information with highlighted key elements we call ‘hotspots.’ We also implemented support for a cross-referenced glossary, dynamic content map, quizzes, feedback forms and a detailed help menu. The content search is designed to be convenient to those accustomed to specific SAP transaction codes and abbreviations. The content is completely dynamic and managed by a back-end administrative module developed as a centralized, web-based solution using Microsoft .NET here:
Another back-end feature worth highlighting is a user tracking mechanism that makes the success of eClass measurable.
The Story Continues
Eventually, the training staff at CCH started using the content editor Melon developed to create interactive presentations and surveys. They wanted to be able to include videos and sound, Flash animations and to have a flexible content structure. These requirements basically translated into the idea of a PowerPoint-like authoring tool that would be excellent for creating e-learning courses but also would answer a vast array of presentation needs. This evolution of needs and the advance in the Flash technology prompted us to propose to CCH the development of a more powerful solution: this was the specification of eClass2.
This time, the authoring tool was a desktop application allowing content authors to develop their courses locally. The authoring tool could export the course as a standalone desktop application, an online course or a SCORM-compatible package. The courses were also compatible with SAP’s built-in learning management system. Using Adobe’s then recently released Flex framework, we built a moderately sophisticated software solution. It featured an undo function, screen templates and asset library, revamped quiz-creation options, video converter and more. The solution was tailor-made for CCH and based on what would work best for their training staff. What our client could then do was create and organize the course content in any way they wished.
There were some bumps on the road. Flex was released not long before we started development. It had its flaws, but our team built workarounds without hindering the solution’s performance. A lot of time was spent on optimizing code, making sure no memory leaks or similar complications occurred. We also needed to provide a way to migrate the massive content from the first version of eClass to the latest one. eClass2 was built to be backwards compatible and we are proud to say that the 70+ courses created for the previous version were successfully imported.
The best thing about this solution is that it can go anywhere. It was built to easily accommodate feature improvements which now provides us with a basis for an even more compelling authoring tool that can include animations, custom interactive object authoring and more.
Below is a glimpse of what the new authoring tool looks like:
Since its launch, the CCH staff has created more than 70 common transaction trainings for SAP for over 20,000 employees across the region. At our client’s request we additionally developed multi-language support and a SCORM-compatible version of the tutorial player.
"Melon AD are a very dynamic company. Our team of Business Systems Education Consultants and me personally enjoy working and learning from them. Melon's team have inspired us with enthusiasm about e-learning, great design, simple but flexible functionality, client-oriented approach and most of all - genuine knack for 'making things work' even if the project seems impossible at times. We have been partnering in the e-learning area for over 4 years now and together we have brought to our approximately 6,000 learners many online self-study courses in English & local languages (Russian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, German). I know we are one of the most difficult clients Melon has: our team is an early e-learning adopter in Coca-Cola Hellenic and therefore we have experienced many changes of the approach, business requirements and overall e-learning strategy. Nevertheless, together with Melon we achieved recognition from our Group Learning & Development management and the results of our common work are now being considered as content creation solutions for Business Systems Education in the Group of 28 countries"
Business Systems Education Consultants Leader
Coca Cola Hellenic