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Breeze Training Article

Creating Curriculums with Macromedia Breeze Training

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I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news, but rapid training really seems to be catching on. Training departments can produce engaging content faster and at lower costs. Customers are satisfied with the effectiveness of the material, and they benefit from the shorter development times. The Macromedia Breeze team couldn’t be happier about this trend. When we started planning our latest version of Breeze, we heard a few things repeatedly from the customers who helped us shape our vision. Some of their issues were: training departments needed more functionality to manage a training program and customers who were creating multiple courses on related topics needed a way to organize the courses into manageable groupings.

Curriculums are one of the major features of Breeze 5 developed specifically to address customer feedback. Curriculums allow you to collect a variety of learning events, such as courses, meetings, and content into a single training program that you can manage easily. You can create applications to organize your training and use prerequisites to ensure your learners complete the material in the proper order. This article shows how easy it is to create a curriculum in Breeze 5. There are a few ways to organize your curriculum to meet your training objectives.

You should think about the following considerations before you begin:

  • Make sure you are familiar with Breeze, especially navigating the Training application, creating courses, and creating meetings. Learning about curriculums is easier if you already understand Breeze basics.
  • You should follow best practices to produce a training program. Managing multiple courses designed to satisfy one or more training objectives requires more organization to produce.
  • You should always have a separate login, which allows you to log in as a learner, to view your training from the learner’s perspective. For curriculums, this technique helps ensure the training you create makes sense to the learner.

Requirements

To complete this tutorial, you must have the following:

  • Access to a Breeze server that you can safely use to create training
  • Some sample content, courses, and meetings to create sample curriculums
  • A basic understanding of Breeze and creating Breeze training, content, and meetings

Curriculum basics

Breeze curriculums allow you to combine many courses and learning events into a single training. You can select any of the learning items you created in Breeze and organize them into groupings that make sense to your learners. You simply list the courses in the order you want your learners to follow. You can then enroll learners in the curriculum in the same way as enrolling in a course. When a learner clicks a curriculum link, a list of the items appears, in the order you specified. Figure 1 shows an example of curriculum created in Breeze 5.

The Mortgage Training curriculum

Figure 1. The Mortgage Training curriculum

The training in this article is based on the Experience Bank, which is a fictitious company the Breeze team created to discuss Breeze functionality. The training manager at the bank needs to teach employees how to sell mortgages to customers. The curriculum that appears in Figure 1 contains training created to meet this objective.

Learners start by taking a review course of mortgages. This course teaches the basics of mortgage terminology along with different types of mortgages. Then, the learners must complete the product training application and the application on selling mortgages. Each learner must complete the Mortgage Assessment item to ensure that the training was successful. After that, learners are encouraged to complete a feedback survey for the training team.

Before you begin working with curriculums, you need sample courses to use in this tutorial. Log in to Breeze, and create a folder in your training folder called Curriculum Tutorial. You can create courses in that folder, using any previous uploaded content you wish, with the following names: Mortgage Review, New Mortgage Training, Using the Mortgage Calculator, Making the Pitch, Finding the Right Mortgage, and Training Survey.

Creating a simple curriculum

You’re ready to create your first curriculum. Open the Curriculum Tutorial folder in the Macromedia Breeze Training application. Click the New Curriculum button to start the new Curriculum wizard. This wizard helps get you started with a curriculum by walking you through the following set-up process:

  1. In the Curriculum Name text box, enter Mortgage Training for the name of the curriculum.
  2. Click the Next button to show the Add Items step of the wizard. You use this step to add courses and meetings to a curriculum.
  3. Click the Add Course button to show the course selection interface.
  4. Navigate to your Curriculum Tutorial folder, and click the check box next to each course you want to add.
  5. Click the Add button to return to the wizard. All the courses you selected appear in the wizard.
  6. Click the Next button to go to the next page, and then click the Finish button to complete your first curriculum.

Your page should look similar to Figure 2 (but only a portion of the curriculum editing interface appears in the figure). The selected courses appear in the order they were added. You use the Curriculum Information page to change the order of items, add new ones, or remove ones that are no longer needed.

The Mortgage Training curriculum page

Figure 2. The Mortgage Training curriculum page

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Your curriculum items are listed on the left side of the Curriculum Info page. The right side of the page shows information about the currently selected item. You can observe this by selecting any of the courses in your curriculum. The name of the selected course appears on the right as well as its ID, summary, and other information. The buttons at the top affect the selected item; for example, by moving it up or down within the curriculum. Make sure you always remember to select the item on the left before making changes on the right!

When learners open a curriculum, they see a simple interface that shows the items necessary to complete the curriculum. Figure 3 shows the learner’s view of the curriculum from Figure 2 (again, only a portion of the interface appears). Learners see items they’ve completed, their score, and any other items they still need to complete.

The learner’s view of the Mortgage Training curriculum

Figure 3. The learner’s view of the Mortgage Training curriculum

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If you look back at the curriculum in Figure 2, can you see anything that might need to be fixed? You may not have noticed, but the current order has learners filling out a survey about their training program before they actually complete it. The survey should move to the end of the curriculum. Remember, the order in which items appear on the page determines the order that appears to learners as they complete the training. Changing the order is as easy as clicking the check box next to Training Survey and then clicking the Down arrow until the survey is at the end of the list. Use this technique and the Up and Down arrows to rearrange your curriculum to match the following order:

  1. Mortgage Review
  2. New Mortgage Training
  3. Using the Mortgage Calculator
  4. Making the Pitch
  5. Finding the Right Mortgage
  6. Training Survey

After your courses are listed in the proper order, you’re ready to enroll learners and view detailed reports to see how learners are performing.

Blending learning with curriculums

In addition to Breeze Training, Breeze has other product applications that support the Breeze mission to get content and information to people whenever and however they need it. You use the Meetings application to create web conferences for collaboration and document sharing. Training departments often call this virtual classrooms. The Content library stores many different types of content including Flash documents and standards-based e-learning content. Content such as product literature, process diagrams, and company organization charts can be converted to Flash using Macromedia FlashPaper to output web-savvy content. Figure 4 shows the Mortgage Training curriculum with different types of items.

Meetings, Flash documents, and courses in a curriculum

Figure 4. Meetings, Flash documents, and courses in a curriculum

Icons indicate different types of items within a curriculum (see Table 1). Book icons represent courses such as New Mortgage Training. The Mortgage Brochure icon represents a Flash document. The training manager added this item to the curriculum so the learners could see exactly what customers see when they download product literature. A flow diagram of the sales process, Sales Proc. Flow Chart, was created using FlashPaper to allow learners to review the sales process at a high level before getting into the details. And finally, the training manager added an online meeting called Scenario Testing for learners to demonstrate their communication skills to the sales manager using the Breeze Meetings application.

Table 1: Icons found in the Blended Learning curriculum
Icon Description
Course – Learners take courses at their own pace.
Meeting – Virtual classroom or collaborative sessions allow learners to interact with subject matter experts.
Flash content – Online documents that learners read for information or print for later reference.

Blending different types of training, such as content, courses, and virtual classrooms enables you to customize a training program to the needs of your learners. Curriculums present these items in an intuitive list so your learners can complete the program easily. And, of course, reporting features capture results so you can track the success of the curriculum.

Prerequisites and completion

The default organization for a curriculum is a list of training items where each item must be taken for the curriculum to be complete. Learners will generally complete a program following this order. There are times when the order is important or even required for the learner to be successful. Imagine taking a course such as Using the Mortgage Calculator before learning the basis of mortgages in New Mortgage Training—that would be like requiring someone to use a calculator without knowing what the numbers mean.

Prerequisites help you control the flow of your curriculum so that learners do not take an item out of sequence. You can suggest an order to ensure learners are given a warning when going out of order. You can even hide certain items until all prerequisites are complete.

You set the prerequisite for an item in a curriculum by selecting it on the Curriculum Information page and then changing the Prerequisites setting on the right side of the page. When you select the item and click the Edit button in the Prerequisites section, all the previous items in the curriculum also appear on the right. Your choices for each prerequisite include the following three options:

  • Suggested – The learner receives a warning when accessing an item out of order.
  • Required – Learners must complete the prerequisites first.
  • Hidden – The learning item is hidden until the learner has completed all the prerequisites.

In our sample curriculum, if you want to ensure the learner understands mortgages before learning about the Mortgage Calculator, the learner would need to complete both the Mortgage Review and New Mortgage Training courses because you set these items as Required for the Using the Mortgage Calculator course, as shown in Figure 5.

The Mortgage Assessment determines learner completion

Figure 5. Prerequisites for Using the Mortgage Calculator

You can define exactly what training learners need to successfully complete by using completion requirements. For example, compliance testing may require that learners need to pass only an assessment of their skills. Courses and other training materials within the same curriculum might be listed primarily to help learners prepare for the test. Along with prerequisites, completion requirements ensure your learners correctly follow your training program.

You click the Edit button of the Completion Requirements section to specify what the learner must complete in a curriculum. Make sure you select the curriculum by clicking its name. After clicking the Edit button, you see a list of curriculum items with a pop-up menu so you can select the items that are required to complete the curriculum. There are also items that the learner can select at their discretion. In Figure 6, Mortgage Assessment is the only required course that learners must complete. A learner might, for example, be trained already and interested only in recertification, so the other courses might be needed only to pass the assessment.

The Mortgage Assessment determines learner completion

Figure 6. The Mortgage Assessment determines learner completion

Organize Your Training with Applications

Curriculums allow training departments to combine related content, courses, and other items into a single program. If a curriculum becomes long or difficult to follow, you can use folders to organize the training into related groupings or applications. This organization helps learners concentrate on certain areas and not become overwhelmed by a long course list. This article uses new mortgage training as an example. There are three main areas of this training: product training, training on selling, and assessment for the learner. Figure 7 shows how you might organize all that curriculum material into folders.

Organizing training into folders.

Figure 7. Organizing training into folders.

This curriculum starts with a review of mortgages. The learner continues on to the product application. After the learner is familiar with products, the next step is to learn how to sell those products. The assessment application, Sales Testing, validates the training by using an online exam and a virtual classroom to demonstrate communication skills. This curriculum provides a logical training program that students can easily follow and that training departments can use to ensure employees are properly trained.

Where to go from here

You can learn more about curriculums and Macromedia Breeze Training by exploring the following projects:

  • Create sample curriculums with existing content and then try changing prerequisites and completion rules to see how that affects the learning experience. Completion requirements can be used in folders as well as the entire curriculum.
  • View curriculum reports to see the valuable data Breeze tracks for each learner. Your sample curriculums are ideal for this task.
  • Test-out is a feature not discussed in this article. You use test-outs to assess a learner’s knowledge before taking a course. If the learner has sufficient knowledge, he can test out of the course and move on to the next item in the curriculum. Give it a try!

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