By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-06-26 Print this article Print

The QMind Design Collaboration Platform does a good job of managing content in a way that makes it easy for teams to create, review, and publish training or marketing content.

Updated in May, QMinds hosted application allows users with a Flash-enabled Web browser to manage projects such as budgeting and creating e-learning content. Priced starting at $99 per user per month for the core application set, the service is relatively easy to use and provides users with excellent content management and revision tools.

eWeek Labs tested QMind Design Collaboration Platform with the optional Production Automation and Project Management packages, which push the price up to $197 per user per month. We really couldnt imagine using the service without Production Automation and Project Management, though, because of the packages storyboard template and resource-management features.

A licensed user is one who has content creation and/or management rights. QMind doesnt charge for users tasked with reviewing content and providing feedback.

QMind provides project leaders with a template that divides a project into lessons and breaks down each lesson into discrete, schedulable workflow tasks (including project setup, content outlining, storyboarding and review). To complete a schedule, all we had to do was enter a start date, an end date and time estimates and then assign the task.

Each QMind project comprises lessons, topics and storyboard scenes. During our tests, we first mapped out a set of lessons and topics in outline form before diving into the complexities of creating scenes. We liked that we had the option of using a basic forms-based tool or a graphical tool for mapping out scenes, but that we also had access to the logic for routing the audience from scene to scene (see screen).

Click here to read listen to a podcast of Michael Caton discuss QMinds e-learning tools. The storyboard editor provides the forms-based methodology for creating a scene. We just needed to select an existing template or create a new one, enter text, and attach appropriate media files (including graphics, video, Flash and audio files).

Scenes can contain multiples of any of these elements, and we found editing and re-ordering the elements in the storyboard editor to be a straightforward process. The rich-text editor isnt overly robust, but QMind does have an integrated text-to-speech engine for mocking up scripts.

In training applications, the graphical PolyNav tool allows authors to see branching and scene flow based on trainee answers. Completed projects can be bundled into a dedicated Flash application. For training applications, projects can be published in SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) 1.2 or SCORM 2004 formats, as well as in QMinds own XML format. (SCORM support requires the Production Automation package.)

We appreciated that workflow has been integrated throughout the application. Each scene in the storyboard editor includes a section detailing comments submitted by reviewers, and issues associated with a project appear on users welcome pages. In addition to the commenting capability, Qmind has a message feature that allows users to publish project messages that can be viewed on group members welcome pages. We also liked the integrated instant messaging application, particularly since we could save message threads.

User management is defined by roles, with seven roles available for managing the account and various elements of the application.

Each projects estimated and actual deadlines can be viewed in calendar form from the welcome page, and each user can have an assigned bill rate.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist.


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