A few days ago, a group of IT students asked me "What does your company do ?". I tried to summarize, as non-technical as I could, what the SHIFT experience is.
While SHIFT allows rich media courses to be created, its core value resides in its ability to save significant amount of labor and time for project managers, instructional designers, writers, graphic designers and to eliminate programming. Lower costs, faster to market, richer experience. SHIFT allows the user to create a course with the features of a rich media course, but with the budget of a rapid eLearning authoring tool.
SHIFT is a development platform. It's web-based, designed to work in an environment where there are multiple users, with different roles, profiles and access rights, designed to run multiple courses being developed at the same time and in multiple geographical locations. It's designed for organizations where content changes rapidly and needs to be updated, and where rich media is used to enhance the learning experience.
SHIFT has a set of tools that allow easy rich media course creation, including:
250+ preconfigured (as of september 2010, growing by 10% per month), smart templates, some of them that automatically reconfigure themselves based on content. When the ID or writer is creating a course, an XML database is written with the subject matter. It is independent of interfaces. That allows the ID to easily interchange interface interactions among families of similar interactions, because the interface is just a manifestation of the content, but not tied together like other development tools. The 250+ preconfigured smart templates include several families of exploration (animated) screens, exercises, games, system simulation and information screens.
SHIFT also has a built-in scenario engine that allows users to create scenarios with zero programming or technical skills. This engine allows the selection of backgrounds, actors and even emotional states. The ID writes the dialogue and the avatars come automatically to life, no lip-synch needed as it is done automatically for the ID.
A built in audio recording studio, where voice talent can record a course from anywhere in the world and where SHIFT automatically crops, optimizes and uploads audio, at the same time sorts audio for male, female or any other type of special requirements. For those that do not want to record with a human, a built in TTS engine (Text-to-speech) allows automatic recording of courses with a single click. The TTS engine can be used solely or in combination with a human-recorded course. SHIFT identifies those audios that have been previously recorded by a human talent and would record only the leftover audios with the TTS engine.
To upload images, SHIFT has a build in image editor. It allows the user to select an image, crop, resize, rotate and flip images. No need to use graphic design tools.
SHIFT allows for easy allocation of graphic design tasks to different team members. They could even be outsourced and SHIFT manages the whole process (from assigning work, to uploading, integrating, reviewing and approving). SHIFT even has RFQ functionality so that organizations can easily engage with outside vendors, seamlessly, through the system, reducing to zero the media integration costs.
SHIFT has an on-line and an off-line edits and bug tracking system so that all parties involved in the development and review can participate.
SHIFT has several built-in security features: users, based on profile, are allowed different things, including creating, editing, deleting or just reviewing courses. Project managers, based on their profile, will be able to track the progress and upload documentation, but not edit the content itself. A graphic designer may be allowed only to upload arts, but not edit content and so on. Once a course is done and approved, it can be locked so that no one is able to change it unless given permission. Daily backups are created automatically in a different network infrastructure for redundancy.
SHIFT' s architecture allows for distributed teams to work together. A graphic designer can log into SHIFT and work on a specific project, assigned to him by the project manager and only on that. The project manager or the ID can track, in SHIFT's report section, what the progress is on each screen, each media asset, in real time.
SHIFT is also designed for organizations that want to share and reutilize content. Each module and screen can be tagged and can then be imported into other courses. Since content is independent from interface, when a module is imported into a new course, all interfaces will be updated to the look and feel of the new course. No rework is necessary.
Thus, SHIFT can be used as a one-person development environment, with most processes fully automated, or as an "industrial strength" development environment where many people, with many different profiles work together. SHIFT's heavy automation of non-value added tasks will dramatically reduce person-hours needed to develop rich media content, while allowing very fast time-to-market and easy updates and maintenance.