Demystifying UPK Professional

Demystifying UPK Professional

Oracle’s User Productivity Kit (UPK) is primarily a content development tool that can capture system process steps in any IT system. From a single capture it can create multiple online and documentation outputs to accelerate User Acceptance Testing, Training, User Adoption and Knowledge Retention. UPK is currently shipped in two versions; UPK Standard and UPK Professional. In this post I will seek to clarify the differences.

Both versions of the product include the same content development tool with all of the same features and functionality. The online and documentation outputs produced by the development tool can be deployed to the relevant audience using the standard methods and infrastructure already in place in your organisation. The online outputs are essentially web pages that can be served up to end users using any web server. The documentation is produced in Microsoft Office or PDF formats.

If you wish to track who is accessing the content, one option is to use the UPK Knowledge Center. This is essentially a web based portal utilised for content delivery, tracking and reporting. There are two versions of the Knowledge Center; UPK Standard and UPK Professional, and this is where the two versions of UPK differ.

UPK Standard includes the content development tool and the Standard version of the Knowledge Center. The Standard version can be used to deploy one or more outlines of content to users but it is not possible to restrict access by user. If a user has access to the Knowledge Center in the Standard version of UPK then they have access to all of the content available. They can access the content in any order and, although the Knowledge Center will bookmark the last visited item for when the user returns to the site, there isn’t any way for the end user to track personal progress and previously viewed items.

Tracking and reporting on content and assessments is available to Managers and Training Staff in the Standard version of UPK using a built-in report writer. However, the only information about the user that can be included in the report is their username. Reporting based on department, location, manager, etc. is not possible without connecting to other data sources.

UPK Professional includes the content development tool and the Professional version of the Knowledge Center which offers advanced functionality and is known as a Learning Content Management System (LCMS).

The Professional version of the Knowledge Center brings many advantages over the Standard version:

Knowledge Paths allow Training Managers to create bespoke courses that include content and assessments. The Paths can be made up of one or more Activities, each of which can contain a pre-course assessment, an entire or partial outline of content and a post-course assessment. A curriculum can be enforced within the Paths to ensure that a user works through an outline of content and proves their proficiency in that area, using the assessments, before they can access further material.

The content inside each Activity can be automatically tailored to the user based on their responses to the pre-course assessment. If the user proves that they are proficient in a particular area of the content, by achieving a predetermined score on the questions associated with that area, then they can choose to opt out of that area of content.

Using the Notebook facility, users can bookmark pages of content similar to the favourites feature inside an internet browser. Comments can be added to each entry and a hyperlink to the page is also included.

Experts can be assigned to Knowledge Paths to provide support to end users. Inside the content pages the end user can click an icon to open the Question window. Previously asked questions can be viewed from here, or the user can ask a new question. The assigned expert or experts are then sent an email closing the question or leaving it open for further comments. The end user is sent an email notification for any answers provided.

Similar functionality is available to provide feedback on the content. Feedback Monitors are defined against the Knowledge Path and reviewers or end users can provide feedback using a similar screen to the Question window.

One of the strongest features of the Professional version is the ability to customise the information that can be stored against each user. The big advantage of Custom User Fields is that they can be used to group and filter the reports from the Knowledge Center.

Custom User Fields are often used to map the organisational hierarchy of an organisation by including Team Leader, Manager, Director, Department, Division, etc. Other uses include geographical location, job title, payroll number and qualifications.

The Reporting capability of the UPK Professional version is far superior to that of the Standard version, as a higher level of detail is captured around the content, assessments and questions. The Custom User Fields provide grouping and filtering capabilities and the ability to integrate any third party Business Intelligence tool introduces a wealth of functionality.

Progress percentages, number of attempts, scores and time taken for each subject, as well as pre and post assessments are captured per user. Course usage statistics and individual question responses are also captured.  Each end user has the ability to view a Usage Summary Report which includes their progress. Team Leaders, Managers and Training Staff can be assigned the ability to report across the organisation.

With the release of UPK Version 11.1.0.1 Oracle has added support for Third Party SCORM content in the Professional version of the Knowledge Center. This means that any content that has been created with another tool can be imported into the Knowledge Center and tracked and reported on, as long as the content adheres to the SCORM standards.

This additional feature allows the Knowledge Center to become the single point of all eLearning content for an organisation, as soft skills training can be integrated with systems training as well as other assets.

In summary, whether you are considering UPK Professional for compliance or simply to meet the demands of your organisation, the bespoke Knowledge Paths and role-based deployment coupled with the hierarchical reporting delivered by the standard and external reports, provides a powerful, targeted learning tool.

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Jamie Blacoe

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