Absorb's optional Mercury module offers a Billboard tool. With it Admins can produce messages broadcasted to any number of select Learner audiences. Billboards can be published as either video or photo banners (the second of which can also include a hyperlink) and can be displayed on one or more areas of a Learner's Dashboard. Once Billboards have been published to the LMS, the targeted Learner audience can be given the choice to navigate each message in the Billboard slide show independently through a set order, or have each one cycle automatically, while the Learner remains on the Dashboard page.
How it Works
In any learning situation the power of images to help communicate information is indisputable, which is why visuals can always be included as part of any Course created in Absorb. But with the Mercury component both moving and still pictures can be used in another way - to inform, promote and inspire a Learner to learn by encouraging them to use the learning resources you create, every time they access the LMS. Because of that impressive ability, Billboards are awarded the largest and most prominent space in the entire Learner Interface - the first page, top and center. It's an excellent place to make announcements, start new initiatives, promote the resources available - anything and everything you as the Admin might want the Learner to know about and take advantage of.
Billboards can be added to Absorb by using the Billboards workspace and the following tabs
The General Tab is used by the Admin to enter the bulk of the information required in order to create a Billboard.
|Title||This is what the Billboard will be named wherever it appears in the LMS (mandatory). It is not shown in the Learner Interface and is used for Admin identification purposes only|
|Description||This is the explanation for the Billboard, as written by the Admin using the built-in text editor, and can be used to capture whatever details the Admin wishes to preserve (e.g. how long to run the Billboard for, who created the visual, etc). This information is also not shown in the Learner Interface and is again used for Admin identification purposes only.|
|Billboard Type||This is the format of the Billboard - either 'Image' or 'Video' to allow the Admin to choose what style of message they want to display.|
|Large Image||This is the biggest image size to be used for the Billboard and will be the one the displayed to the Learner when they view the message on a large display (e.g. computer monitor). This image should be uploaded in a size that measures 950 x 366 pixels.|
|Medium Image||This is the intermediate image size to be used for the Billboard and will be the one the displayed to the Learner when they view the message on a medium display (e.g. tablet). This image should be uploaded in a size that measures 630 x 366 pixels|
|Small Image||This is the smallest image size to be used for the Billboard and will be the one the displayed to the Learner when they view the message on a small display (e.g. smart phone). This image should be uploaded in a size that measures 310 x 178 pixels.|
|Target URL||This is an optional hyperlink address that an Admin can add to an Image Billboard and which is be used to redirect a Learner to an external site, an internal site or a direct link in the LMS. This option can be used to augment the message with an additional linked resource or provide a link to the intended end destination that the Billboard is promoting. Please note that the entire URL including "https://" should be used.|
|Video (Poster)*||This is an optional introductory image that can be displayed to a Learner as part of a Video Billboard in place of the opening frame of Billboard's media file. Having this option allows the Admin to create a title, a summary or whatever supporting information they want to display as the lead-in for the Video. If no image is provided here the Billboard will automatically default to the first frame of the Video instead which the Learner can launch and control using the built-in media player. This image should be uploaded in a size that measures 630 x 366 pixels.|
|Video (Webm)*||This is the Billboard media file uploaded to the LMS in Webm format (a royalty free version of the HTML5 video format) and is compatible with most web browsers, except Apple's Safari. If an organization does not have any Learners that might elect to use an Apple-branded computing device to access the Learner Interface, then this format is acceptable.|
|Video (MP4)*||This is the Billboard media file uploaded to the LMS in MPEG-4 format which is compatible with all web browsers and is the preferred file format to use for adding a video to the LMS if an organization has Learners that might elect to use either Apple or non-Apple branded computing devices to access the Learner Interface.|
|Author||This is the name of the Admin that initially created the Billboard. It is automatically populated by Absorb but can be changed to any other Admin name that is contained in the LMS.|
|Order||This number sets the displayed sequence of Billboards presented to the Learner on their Dashboard. This number is also responsible for a master ordering of all Billboards present in LMS, regardless of which Learner audiences they are intended for - or which Admin created them. For the Learner they will only be presented with those Billboards that they have been granted access to as per Absorb's Availability Rules. For them their particular Billboards will always follow the master sequence order and skip over displaying any Billboards in the LMS that they are not permitted to see|
|Tags||This is a group of identifiers added to the LMS by the Admin which can be used to create custom associations with a given Billboard. The purpose of this option is provided because the Absorb Learner Interface can allow for the inclusion of more than one set of Billboards on the Dashboard page. So by tagging individual Billboards with different Tags an Admin can elect to have some Billboards displayed in one area of the page and others in another (e.g. Having general Billboards at the top, Course specific Billboards at the bottom). Please note that this option requires additional configuration work on Absorb's back end in order to work (see Tags below).|
|Publication||This switch determines whether or not the Billboard will become active and be displayed on the LMS. As soon as the Admin publishes the Billboard (by setting the Publication option to 'Published' and saving the change) it will be automatically added to the Interface of every Learner that has been selected as a viewer for that particular message the next time they navigate back to the Dashboard.|
(* - Field options available after the Billboard Type has been set to Video.)
When creating a new Billboard the Actions available for use by the Admin are:
|Add billboard||This button will launch the Billboard workspace where the new Billboard can be created.|
|Save||This button will save the new Billboard and return back to the Billboard Report page where the newly created Billboard will now appear in alphabetic order by Title in the Report.|
|Cancel||This button will cancel the newly created Billboard without saving it in the LMS (which the Admin will be prompted to confirm) and return the Admin back to the Billboard Report page.|
Billboards can also be modified in Absorb using the same Billboards resources.
When working with a previously saved Billboard the Actions available for use by the Admin are:
|This button will relaunch the Billboard workspace where any selected Billboard from the Report can be updated and re-saved.|
|Delete Billboard(s)||This button will erase any Billboard(s) selected from the Billboard Report (which the Admin will be prompted to confirm). Any Billboard(s) deleted here is permanently removed from the LMS and cannot be recovered.|
|Deselect||This button will clear any Billboard selection(s) made by the Admin in the Billboard Report.|
|Save§||This button will save any changes made to an existing Billboard and return the Admin back to the Billboard Report page.|
|Cancel§||This button will cancel any changes made to the existing Billboard, revert back to the last saved version (which the Admin will be prompted to confirm) and then return the Admin back to the Billboard Report page.|
|Quick Save§||This button will save the existing Billboard without returning back to the Billboard Report page so that the Admin can continue working on the Billboard they are currently editing.|
|View History§||This button will open a new dialog box containing a detailed breakdown of any and all of the change(s) made to the Billboard since it was created - including the date and the party responsible for the update(s), listed in order of most to least recent. This feature can be useful for any Billboard that multiple Admins may have worked on and/or to review any previous changes made to the Billboard's content or information.|
(§ - Action options available after the Billboard has been reopened for editing.)
Once the existing Billboard is re-saved the Admin can decide to run a filtered report based on the group of Billboards residing in the LMS.
Absorb's Billboards tool will launch using the standard Report layout as its starting point where an Admin can: create a new Billboard; work on an existing Billboard; and/or, run a custom Billboards Report.
The basic Billboard Report can be customized to provide data on any of the following parameters:
|Author ‡||This column displays the name of the LMS Admin that authored the Billboard.|
|Date Added ‡||This column displays the date the Billboard was first created and saved to the LMS.|
|Date Edited ‡||This column displays the date the Billboard was last updated and re-saved to the LMS.|
|ID||This column displays the Billboard identifier automatically assigned by the LMS and can be used in creating deep links in Absorb.|
|Is Published ‡||This column displays the date the Admin switched the Publication toggle in the General Tab to 'Published', making the Billboard available to Learners on the LMS.|
|Order ‡||Refer to the definition in the General Tab above.|
|Title ‡||Refer to the definition in the General Tab above. (Note: Report order is based on this field, alphabetically sorted.)|
|Type ‡||Refer to the definition in the General Tab above.|
(‡ - Columns shown automatically as part of the default report view.)