Our E-Learning is built in Fantom

Published on 14 Feb 2020 by Emma Eynon

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We improved our Learning Management system by making it entirely in Fantom.

At Fantom Factory, we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Fantom programming language. After we completed work on the initial LMS site, which was built with industry standard website solutions, Steve and I were still unhappy with much of the functionality. For anyone who has used "off the shelf" products in WordPress, you’ll perhaps appreciate the kinds of restrictions that we faced.

We wanted to employ the best possible training methods available to the online environment. Training on a screen, often involves watching long videos or reading lots of text and trying to memorise definitions or examples for a boring multiple choice quiz all the way at the end. After sampling lots of online training courses ourselves, we realised what we DID NOT want to have on our training site. This meant that we were looking for a web platform that would host videos, images and multimedia of course, but what was very important to us, was the ability to use interactive exercises and questions.

Just by using different question types, like matching up answers by dragging boxes on the screen, can really make an online session so much more interesting. We wanted to use a variety of questions, moving answer boxes to sort list orders, mix and match and fill in the blanks to make our training feel more interactive. It actually also helps us to pose different kinds of questions to challenge thinking.

One big challenge we face, is to be able to present coding question types for our programming courses. To prove real knowledge, it would be ideal to test the code string that a student would input and have that automatically assessed. We believe very much in testing the practical ability of the student which is why we insist on using SkySpark within our SkySpark training courses.

So, problems we faced with using WordPress and a system called LearnDash included:

  • Navigation issues
  • Display inconsistencies
  • Limited profile handling
  • Poor layout options
  • Question limitations
  • Limitations on quiz handling
  • Complicated database system
  • Poor responsive options
  • No gamification or achievement integration
  • Slow page loading
  • Over complicated and confusing
  • Lack of support

That is not to mention the huge number of extra plugins and add-ons needed to provide the basic functionality we were looking for. Including the email, e-commerce, and basic form functionality needed for the site, we had to install over 40 products! Taking gamification as an example, we wanted to provide achievements for various actions and had to buy a subsequent product for this. This product does not include a notification on the screen – this is another product! This also does not include video or multimedia integration – yet another plugin!

In a nutshell, we found our ideal training site was becoming more and more of a grotesque and bloated monster!

Enter ... the STEVE!

Steve was determined that he could do a much better job by using his beloved Fantom code to hand craft a site that would do everything that we needed. He started on 1st December 2019 and after a short Christmas break, he has done exactly that in just 2 months. It really helped to have a final platform design to work towards, given that at the start of the project we were relatively unclear of what exactly we wanted to design.

The new Fantom platform, solves ALL of the problems we faced using the WordPress system. Actually, our achievement engine, question handling, notifications and profile handling is now superior to anything money can buy! We are very proud of this new website and after some work on reproducing our first released commercial training course, SkySpark Analyst, completely in Fandoc formatting, it is all ready to go!

As a further idea, to show off our new LMS, we have created our free Induction Training course which is available to anyone upon new registration. Why not give it a try?

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