NelsonNet is a brand of Cengage Learning providing text books and learning aids for both students and teachers. Cengage developed a range of rich media content that they wanted to make easily available to students and teachers while protecting their Intellectual Property. IBC Digital used Verdi CMS to deliver the following two systems for Cengage.

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Project 1: Resource Sites

Cengage had developed a range of rich media content such as Fact Sheets, Worksheets, Question and Answer system, Video Tutorials etc. that they wanted to make available to both student and teachers. There were a large number of resources available for each book (between 200 and 600 resources) making it unpractical to manually upload and setup the resources within a CMS. Cengage also wanted the ability for resources to be shared between different titles and teachers to have access to all resources for within their subject and year level.

To deliver this solution, IBC broke the requirements down into three different solutions:

Resource Importer

Rather than manually creating the resource sites, IBC Digital developed a resource importer that can be used to quickly create sites based on a media grid (excel file) provided by Cengage. To setup a new site all the user would need to do is:

  • Choose an existing site to duplicate - This allowed administrators to quickly create a new site based on an existing site
  • Select a media grid to use
  • Select the folder that contains all the resources
  • Enter chapter names if desired
  • Provide security details - who was allowed to access the site

The Importer would validate the media grid provided and report any issues / errors found in the grid. The importer would then create a new site structure based on the original site chosen, or a template and would add all the resources into the appropriate chapters and categories within the CMS. The administrator could then add any additional content to the site and could have a fully functional resource site ready within a couple of hours.

The system is fully integrated with a Single Sign On system provided by Cengage's parent company in the US, allowing users to have one username and password to login to all systems provided by Cengage.

Verdi has a powerful permissions system that allows access to content and resources to be available to only users with the appropriate permissions. This means that teacher resources such as Teaching Plans or Answers to Questions can be added to the system with teachers being confident that students are not able to access this content.

Resource Finder

As different states within Australia have different curriculums, Cengage wanted to provide teachers with the ability to create rich lesson plans using any content available for the teachers subject and year level.

To help facilitate this, IBC Digital developed a resource finder that allowed teachers to search for resource based on the subjects:

  • Strand
  • Sub Strand
  • Resource Code (published in the text books)
  • Category
  • Keyword

A predictive search feature was added to the system to allow the teacher to narrow down the search when trying to find resources.

The results from the search could then be filtered based on:

  • A Book Title
  • The category the resource belonged to
  • The FileType
  • The Last Updated date

Using this facility teachers could find rich resources for their lesson plans from all the resources available to teachers in other states.

Central Access

One of the difficulties being faced by Cengage is that the resources available within the Resource Sites needed to be linked to via external applications. Unfortunately this meant that when resources are moved or changed the link from the external application no longer worked. The Verdi CMS does include the ability to redirect resources from an existing URL to the new URL and while this worked when there were a small number of resources within the system, this was not a practical solution for the large number of resources being added to the system.

To address this issue and to avoid external systems linking directly to resources, IBC Digital created a central access system where all resource requests would go to the Central Access system. The system searches through the available resources based on the parameters passed to the system and redirects the user to the correct resource. This ensures that no external systems need to be changed when resources are updated within the resource sites.

Project 2: Dashboard

Cengage Learning were using a central Dashboard provided by their parent company in the US. The Dashboard was branded as Cengage Learning and had a different interface for teachers and students. Cengage Australia wanted to create a Dashboard specifically for the NelsonNet brand with a customised layout but wanted this to keep all the functionality currently available to student and teachers through the US Dashboard.

NelsonNet Dashboard

IBC Digital reviewed the functionality provided by the US and the web services available, to deliver the requirements, and broke the project up into 3 phases:

  • Feasibility Study
  • Branding

The first phase involved IBC Digital's technical staff reviewing all the documentation available for the web services and producing a document that outlined all the Flows, Function Calls and required development needed to create the Dashboard. We liaised with the Technical Team in the US to ensure that all the functionality required was possible using the current functionality available.

Once the document was reviewed and signed off by all stakeholders, IBC Digital proceeded to create a pilot of the system. This provided a number of challenges and some minor changes to the scope to ensure that the functionality met the expectations of all stakeholders. Once the pilot was tested, IBC Digital styled the application to match designs provided by Cengage's UX expert. The final application was retested and is currently live for all students and teachers.

The current system has one interface for both students and teachers with the following features available on the system:

  • Login using a Single Sign On account
  • Dashboard with a list of available titles for the account
  • Links to external applications that the account has access to
  • Ability to add new resources to your account
  • Ability to hide any resources not current being used
  • Ability to update your details and including Single Sign On access details
  • Ability to contact a Sales Representative (Teachers Only)
  • Student Registration process - Automatically creating a Single Sign On account for the user
  • Teacher Registration process (2 step process) - Teacher accounts get added to the Cengage's CRM for authentication. Once authenticated the user receives an email that allows them to complete the registration process