iSpring have released iSpring Suite Max, which is an exciting new elearning product that incorporates iSpring Suite 10 authoring environment, the new iSpring Space, which is a very welcome addition for content sharing and collaboration, and a very large assets library.
All together as iSpring Suite Max, this is a compelling content creation and collaboration environment that really delivers on many different levels.
Here at Learning Light, we have long been fans of iSpring learning technology. We wrote about the iSpring Learn LMS a while back saying how well integrated it was with the iSpring Suite, and how iSpring Suite allows elearning course creators to start producing content quickly and easily.
We also noted that iSpring Suite is actually a very powerful tool as well that “sophisticated elearning afficionados” could use. Well, iSpring Suite Max makes the whole experience even better with some nice updates and new features, and the arrival of iSpring Space, which is very good as it allows for online collaborative and project-based elearning development.
It also has some very nice neat additions, including an API and micro-learning development capability with the online article editor. There is a lot to iSpring Suite Max.
Let’s dive in with iSpring Suite 10 to begin with…
At its simplest iSpring Suite is a PowerPoint add-in that converts your PowerPoint presentations to HTML5 and allows you to export them to an LMS in SCORM 1.2 OR 2004, xAPI format, AICC or CMi5. If you wish you can stick to HTML5 and publish your courses for uploading to a website or as a slide show in MP4 format to YouTube.
There is also an e-book format you can publish to as well. Just so you know iSpring comes with compatibility assurances for over 150 LMS. You know it’s going to work.
With iSpring Space you can store courses, share your courses with colleagues as part of a collaborative development process, manage updates of them and more. I promise we will come back to iSpring Space presently, but before that lets explore iSpring Suite 10 a little more as it is a really powerful piece of kit and to call it “just a PowerPoint Plug-In” is very unfair indeed.
Let’s take a trip – left to right across iSpring 10 and the “blocks” it is divided up into, beginning with Record Audio. Yes, you can create audio in PowerPoint pretty well, but in my view iSpring has a real edge to doing this as it makes it quite easy and gives you the tools to synch the recording quickly and easily slide by slide with the manage narration feature.
If you want to publish your slides to HTML5 and be confident it works use iSpring is my very best advice. If you wish to appear with your slides speaking via recorded video, again iSpring does this very well. Again, using the editing tools, you can polish and perfect your performance and the overall production values to a much higher level than just using PowerPoint.
Audio files can be exported as MP3 files as podcasts and iSpring allows for interview Podcasts to be created as well which I am rather taken with as a learning modality at present.
Interactivity at the next level
Let’s take a look at block 2, but I want to stick with the interactivity elements first, before we get to the supersonic quiz features. It is very quick and easy to take a screen recording and embed YouTube videos into your courses with-out too much effort.
However, with Dialogue Simulation, learning designers can start to express themselves and have some fun focusing on the learning while iSpring takes care of providing images, backgrounds and presents a powerful graphical workflow to keep track of the branches as the dialogue options unfold.
iSpring has a large image library made up of very high-quality images of individuals from many walks of lives and background scenes – think retail or office for example out of which dialogue simulations can be built and the learner offered the opportunity to choose responses to a customer or colleagues’ question.
This is very easy to do with the provided digital assets and the overall presentation is sharp, allowing the learning designer to focus on the dialogue and options offered.
Yes, sure may be a bespoke video is better, but that takes time and costs, iSpring can build equally engaging in context learning content very quickly, you can use your own backgrounds if desired. Remember, this is rapid elearning made easy and cost effective.
Still with Block 2 the web object option allows for web based resources to be placed in your course either as a slide or as a resource that opens as a separate tab. Interactions are interesting and allow iSpring Suite to up the game of any PowerPoint presentation with a library of interactions that are available directly as HTML5.
Step by Step interactions can be quickly and easily created, with images added and these can be made to look really good. There are 13 different types of learning interactions to choose from and again is a wonderful example of iSpring seamlessly moving the elearning developer on from simple to more sophisticated learning very smoothly.
Powerful quiz maker – supersonic actually
iSpring 10 still has the very powerful quiz maker with its standalone development capability and this means powerful quizzes can be developed in iSpring and uploaded to your LMS with ease. There is an LMS reported option and a simpler survey option that is not tracked by an LMS.
The Quiz maker is very powerful indeed benefiting from a series of pre-developed templates. Branching is possible from the Quiz function as well which is nice and naturally the quiz can be deeply integrated into the actual elearning courses as well.
So far, we have looked at iSpring through the prism of PowerPoint, and yes, it is very true that many elearning courses start their lives as trainers PowerPoint presentations or when learning designers start storyboarding their projects in PowerPoint.
As we have seen, iSpring makes it easy to build high quality elearning from PowerPoint. However, iSpring 10 now brings in browser elearning development, which is ideal for micro-learning and quite a lot more as we shall see.
This is where iSpring 10 and iSpring Space overlap as the browser-based development option is delivered via iSpring Space directly allowing for elearning to produced quickly and effectively with a simple editor. Here text can be added, videos and images added and all in real time.
iSpring Space allows for colleagues to be added easily to the project team for collaborative development projects. Storage is in the cloud and iSpring Space allows for all the developed in iSpring Suite to be held in this cloud repository which is very useful.
This is helpful indeed for allowing collaboration and the re-use of learning assets and will be a big benefit to many organisations. It is still possible however to develop in iSpring Suite offline if required.
The whole iSpring experience can now be found in iSpring Space and iSpring Suite shows iSpring Space as an option location as to where to publish courses. This is joined up stuff and it works well so Quizzes can be created in iSpring Space now as well as Suite.
iSpring has pulled off a very clever development with Space, on the one hand iSpring is becoming more modular and flexible in what it can do which is good, on the other hand with iSpring Space the overall product – Max remains completely coherent – a clever move.
iSpring and the learner experience
Let’s jump back to the iSpring 10 interface and look at how iSpring ensures the learning User Experience (UX). iSpring Suite really dives deep to ensure that any learning presentation developed has the highest possible production values applied. The preview option is powerful in that it allows for immediate access to the learning materials for improvements or amendments to be made.
Great attention to slide templates and slide transitions is allowed with edits and timings. The audio performance is likewise managed to perfection to ensure nothing distracts or annoys the learner. A nice touch is the use of the large arrow icon to start the course to overcome the tendency of modern browsers to block auto plays. I find this granular attention to the learner UI and UX exemplary.
The overall iSpring experience is further enhanced by the ability to customise text used on the player and that there are several different player options available, my favourite is the video lecture option which is very well thought through. Another plus for iSpring from a learner perspective the iSpring player gives excellent control to the learner with an effective and intuitive interface.
Resources such as PDFs or the iSpring flip ebook can be incorporated into the player for download. iSpring 10 brings an open API option so a client user can develop their own course player design.
The API also allows for detailed reporting of the learner engagement with the learning materials so any issues can be spotted and dealt with quickly. This goes to reinforce iSpring’s commitment to delivering an exemplary learning experience.
iSpring Suite makes creating elearning seem simple, but the quality of output that iSpring produces means that elearning produced by iSpring is highly polished and professional. iSpring 10 is very solid and builds on the success enjoyed to date by iSpring users, usually in-company development teams producing quality in context elearning quickly and iSpring’s commitment to listening to their users.
Stepping beyond PowerPoint
iSpring Space will help these teams work more efficiently and Space brings a super little tool that creates pages – we touched on this earlier around micro-learning. iSpring Space also allows for materials to copied and pasted in to chapters and pages incredibly easily.
These pages can be grouped as chapters. Each page can be given properties with in-page design and in-page navigation. Naturally, fonts and colours are all provided for at a high standard.
Two things impress in this approach, one the ease in which “flat text” can be chopped up and edited into meaningful engaging material that is easy to navigate and include presentations and quizzes and secondly, they can be packaged up as SCORM or xAPI files for use in an LMS.
Do not underestimate the capability of iSpring Content Library either as iSpring is adding digital assets to its library at a rapid rate.
This gives you the ability to take and enhance a dry and dull document and bring it alive with images and dialogue simulations using a nice simple editor to pull it all together.
Who is iSpring Suite Max for?
So, if you are a training provider looking to digitise your face to face course provision from PowerPoint or other formats iSpring Max is a good product to consider. If you are an organisational training team and looking for an authoring tool that is easy to get going with but allows for increasing levels of sophistication and collaboration, iSpring Max is a worthy solution.
If you are a manager and you want to share a procedure with your team, but the documents are dry and dull, iSpring Max could well help you bring them to life by adding some interaction and engagement surprisingly easily. In all cases iSpring produces quality content quickly and easily.
iSpring Suite was always slick and simple to use, but it has been adding sophistication for some while now with its production values capabilities. Now with iSpring Space and its API, along with Micro Learning and my favourite Article Editor feature, it has got very smart indeed as iSpring Suite Max.
Lead eLearning Consultant
Our lead elearning consultant David Patterson is an expert in training technologies such as LMS and content development tools, and in elearning best practices.
He has helped many public and private sector organisations across the UK, Europe and worldwide to create and deliver engaging, effective elearning.
David is joint author of several research papers including the highly acclaimed Learning Light reports on the UK elearning market.