Adapt Learning - offering the third way

August 23, 2018

When searching for a modern E-Learning authoring tool that meets the needs of your learners Adapt really ticks all the boxes. It creates beautiful, fully responsive content that works on any device in a matter of minutes. It is supported and maintained by industry leading e-learning companies such as Kineo, Learning Pool and SpongeUK to name but a few. The core product is being constantly updated with new features, in the last 12 months alone language translations and xAPI support have been added natively as well as major version updates bringing tonnes of nifty features. On top of that a community of dozens of companies, organisations and individuals are creating new interactions and functionality in the form of plugins and they freely share their creations back with the community using the Plugin Browser, it's basically the App Store of e-learning that you can visit at any time and enhance any of your projects instantly. E-learning innovation is no longer centralized to a development team whose purpose is to maximize profits and instead freedom is given to the teams of talented instructional designers and creatives who actually make the courses. Enabling them the opportunity to push the envelope and reimagine how they can delight their learners, or if they are pressed for time just use what someone else has made for free.

The best part is, as this is an open source product released under the GNU GPLv3 license all of this is 100% free; saving your organisation thousands in licensing fees and ensuring that you are no longer tied down by propriety vendor lock-in.

Could there be any downside?

Unfortunately getting setup with Adapt isn't quite as straight forward as traditional authoring tools. As it's a server based tool you don't get the same installer you get with Storyline or Captivate. To install it you will need to learn how to use your computer's command line, which can be quite daunting.

If the thought of going anywhere near the command line scares you off then you can try using a version of Adapt that is hosted by one of the project collaborators: Can Studios, VYASS and Learning Pool all offer their own versions of Adapt which you can sign up for and have your own tenancy for your organization for today. These tools offer cloud based collaboration so you can share work between your colleagues, even those who work remotely. They offer useful enhancements such as easier theming and handle the complex process of running your own Adapt server.

However, once you are signed up to one of these tools you are back in vendor lockdown town. All these companies have made their own modifications which have made them incompatible with each other. You no longer have access to the Plugin Browser and all the cool modifications that the open source community has created and shared. You are paying a hefty fee per user per month, punishing your ambition to scale your content authoring by bringing on more staff. You are beholden to your vendor in the same way you would have been if you signed up to any other cloud based authoring tool.

If you are willing to put the effort in the Adapt community can help. They have created useful guides on how to install both the Framework, the core product of Adapt; as well as the Authoring Tool, the server based version that you can access from anywhere with your browser. If you get stuck you can pop onto the Adapt Gitter channel, a chatroom where the Adapt developers hangout (if you see me there say hi!) and if they have some time will be happy to help you with your questions or issues.

Developers aren't volunteers

Bare in mind these are developers not tech support staff. They are employed to create new functionality for their own companies benefit, not to help you. Whilst the companies and organisations behind it believe in open source software they are still trying to make money to remain afloat and it isn't sustainable for them to spend hours of their developers' time to help every single user who has a problem. Their developers would probably prefer to be working on new features that benefit the whole open source community, rather than dedicating their time trying to query why your npm install is failing. They may be able to give you some pointers on how to install Adapt or where your plugin may be going wrong but if you needed extended help or require a developer to deliver the idea that your team has had you are out of luck.

Once you have installed the Adapt framework or even setup the Authoring Tool locally or to a server, you can get around to building your first course. The reality is that someone in your team will have to have at least some CSS knowledge to get started in creating your courses theme. If you want to go further and create your own extension or component you will require someone with Javascript skills. This is probably the biggest make or break point to using open source Adapt and many organisations don't have access to a member of staff with the skill set to work with Adapt or the budget to bring on a full time web developer.

A third way

What if Adapt users had another choice? Instead of being forced to choose between the ease of use but vendor lock in provided by hosted versions of Adapt versus the freedom but complexity of open source Adapt. They could instead have freedom to use open source but have premium developer support available when needed. The Adapt ecosystem has evolved to the point where freelancers can exist and offer huge value to users of the technology. This model exists and is very successful for open source platforms that are much more popular than Adapt such as Wordpress, Drupal and Moodle. A pool of skilled freelance developers who can provide their services to create themes, plugins and hosting solutions to clients keen to keep their independence.

Innovation à la carte

By working with an Adapt specialist who has worked with the technology extensively for over three years, you can be sure I will have the skills to get you setup with Adapt. Whether you need help setting up your own Authoring Tool installation, creating your first plugin, or training your staff to do so. I'll be happy to apply myself to the task at hand.

I'm working as a freelancer so you don't have to worry about the large overheads that come with agency work. I'm keen to be as transparent about the work that I'm doing for you and prove my return on investment. By working on a project by project basis you can choose when it make sense to work with me.

So if you have been waiting for the perfect chance to get started with Adapt or have a certain development project you have in mind. Then please contact me and I will be happy to assist you!