It’s summer fever for IT vendors and customers. Microsoft announced Windows 10, Google announced the new Android a couple of weeks ago and Apple just announced the next iOS and OS X versions. But, the best news is probably about the platform you use everyday and really care about: eFront has been updated to 4.2.0.
Ever since we introduced eFront as a modern, future-proof base to build upon, we’ve worked hard to get major updates full of new features coming your way with impressive frequency (and don’t let the version numbers fool you, what we call 4.1 or 4.2 other vendors would have happily called 5 and 6 feature-wise).
But I digress. Let’s open the (virtual) box, and see what goodies eFront 4.2.0 brings to the table…
eFront 4.2.0 takes the instructor led training (ILT) features we’ve introduced in earlier eFront versions to the next level, giving physical world trainings and webinars the same first class status online courses had.
Physical world training is represented with a Training Event, which is a special form of Lesson, and can have one or more Training Sessions, each being led by one or more Instructors and taking place in its own location and/or date/time. eFront 4.2.0 is even smart enough to prevent you from accidentally assigning the same location to more than one sessions at the same date/time (resource sharing prevention).
To handle enrolling and capacity issues, eFront offers automatic waitlist management and automatic iCal invitations (compatible with MS’s Outlook, Apple’s Calendar and most popular calendar applications). ILT sessions are also integrated with eFront’s own calendar, so that a user’s upcoming sessions automatically appear there too.
Instructors can pre-book seats, but it’s also possible for students to self-enroll to their preferred training sessions, with successful attendance leading to automatic lesson/course completion and certification.
Oh, and for those of you that have configured BBB or Webex in eFront, you now get one-click setup of webinars.
eFront now integrates with the OpenSesame service, a huge marketplace of SCORM compatible content that you can purchase and add to your eLearning offerings.
Administrators can browse the whole OpenSesame catalog from eFront’s management interface, and purchase any available content with one click. eFront takes it up from there, automatically converting purchased content to Lessons that can be allocated to courses at will.
If you’re interested in more details about working with OpenSesame material in eFront, stay tuned as there’s an upcoming post dedicated to this alone.
Upgraded upgrade system
Upgrading just got a lot easier with 4.2.0, as installing the latest version from now on just takes a simple click on the “upgrade” button within the management interface.
This makes it dead simple to stay up to date, which means you get all the new features sooner and always have the latest and more secure version installed.
Keeping in sync
eFront 4.2.0 comes with a powerful engine that can periodically check for CSV files in specific folders, and update its own data, making integration and syncing with external sources as easy as pie.
Here’s how this works: the administrator creates import tasks that are ran periodically (e.g. every 24 hours). When the task is run, eFront looks for data files in a predefined folder and imports them, just as if the administrator had manually used the “Import from CSV” option.
eFront keeps detailed reports for each task run, and notifies the administrator if anything went wrong (e.g. data mismatch).
It’s a whole new day for the calendar
A new, easier to use yet more powerful calendar UI is available in the full calendar page.
Not the tame, humble calendar you once knew, this one supports drag-and-drop handling of events and one-click export of its data in iCal format (suitable for importing in Outlook, Google Calendar etc.).
eFront 4.2.0 also brings back some advanced question types you might remember from eFront 3.6: HotSpot and Matrix.
HotSpot allows the professor to upload an image and specify parts of it that need to be clicked for the answer to register as correct.
Matrix questions are based on a MxN table (a grid, or “matrix” in math terms), where the user must pick the correct rows and columns.
New security features
Besides the dead easy one-click updates we’ve already mentioned (which will ensure you always have the latest security updates installed), eFront 4.2.0 brings a few more security enhancements.
First, there’s a new Security tab in the Settings page which will make configuring the various security options easier.
Then, there are (even more) elaborate password rules you can set, including password expirations, the option to forbid password reuse, account lockup after several unsuccessful login attempts, etc. (all optional of course). You can also optionally enforce unique email addresses.
What’s more, any security related errors are logged for later inspection by the administrator.
A simple to use file library is now available in all lessons.
All the professor has to do is simply drag and drop files to add them to the library, and they will be made available to all of the lesson’s users.
As always that’s not all. eFront also comes with lots of smaller features, bug fixes and enhacements. Dig in the new version to find out for yourself, and keep an eye open for our upcoming decicated OpenSesame post.
Bonus: You can now create your own personalized eFront trial learning portal by visiting the following URL: http://www.efrontlearning.net/demo
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