So I was procrastinating as usual. Already for some time, I knew I wanted to download SharePoint Learning Kit (SLK) but somehow I was distracted again and again. Working for one of Switzerland’s leading E-Learning specialists, it really would make sense if we could offer a simple and cost effective E-Learning Portal solution for SharePoint
Start to imagine the benefits for a Trainer. He has been asked by the management of Fabrikam to make sure all of its employees complete a Compliance Training. He simply uploads his Web Based Compliance Training package to a SharePoint library that resides in a SiteCollection that has been configured as an E-Learning Portal. Once uploaded, he can assign that training to any number of SharePoint users without the need of capturing those users by hand. They simply are taken from the authentication provider SharePoint is told to integrate with e.g. Active Directory or an SQL Membership database when using Forms Based Authentication. Continue to imagine the user’s experience when he or she navigates to the E-Learning Portal that is part of Fabrikam’s SharePoint Intranet. When the welcome page loads, first thing he notices is a comprehensive overview of all courses that are assigned to him. Simply clicking the assignment will start a Web Based Training player and everything is on a roll. Did I mention the manager quickly checking up on overall progress?
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume the Use Case in the previous paragraph is accurate and complete. Next logical step would be to test it against the SharePoint Learning Kit. Simply go to http://slk.codeplex.com, download the latest stable package and make sure you start by reading the installation instructions that are part of the download package. I used a simple SharePoint 2010 Foundation environment as I’m a thrifty person and like to make sure that it’s compatible with the “SharePoint on a Shoestring” paradigm. Installation basically is as simple as executing the AddSolution.ps1 PowerShell script that comes with the download package. Once installed, the solution should be deployed to a web application. At this point, SLK is not yet configured. You need to go into the Central Administration and explicitly tell SLK which SiteCollection(s) you would like to configure as an E-Learning Portal. When configuring the first SiteCollection, you are asked to create a separate MS SQL database. Hence it is important that the identity running the Central Administration ‘s application pool in IIS has enough rights to create a new database on your MS SQL server or else the installation may fail. When configuring any subsequent SiteCollection, you can choose to use the already configured database or create a new one, depending on your need to create independent E-Learning Portals. You’re almost done. Only three more steps are required before you can take the SharePoint Learning Kit for a spin. First you need to enable the SiteCollection and Site Features so that the SLK functionality is activated in your E-Learning Portal. Activating the SLK Feature(s) will transform any document library in your E-Learning Portal into a storage space for E-Learning content. It will also provide three additional permission sets. Using these permissions, SLK can differentiate between Trainers, Learners and Managers tracking progress. Secondly, you need to create groups and assign them those unique permissions. Last but not least, you need to edit the welcome page and drop the Assignment Web Part onto it. If all went smooth, your E-Learning Portal should look similar to mine, shown in the following image.
(Click image to enlarge)
There is a lot more to tell about the SharePoint Learning Kit. However, altogether I found it extremely easy to install and handle. It’s a perfect start for anyone who is looking to satisfy basic E-Learning requirements for hosting, playing and tracking E-Learning materials when there is a SharePoint Intranet around. Also, I found that Richard Willis is doing a great job keeping the community alive at codeplex. You can also check the ad for SharePoint Learning Kit at http://www.sharepointappmarket.com/ads/sharepoint-learning-kit/.
A SharePoint Learning Kit Primer,