Everyone loves to receive gifts. Whether it is a result of a wedding, anniversary, baby, birthday, holidays or whatever – it can be a fun and exciting time. Especially when it is wrapped all nice and neat. I’ll admit, my gifts are either in a bag, wrapped in newspaper or just handed to people. But, hey that’s me.

But for others, they take the time to put a bow on it. Wrap it in beautiful paper and add a card. The seeing of this adds to the guessing and fervor of such a potential treat.

Is it a blu-ray player? A gift card? Some DVDs? An expensive watch? Clothing you need?

Or is it something you will never use, want or leaves you thinking – “what the heck is it?” I suspect many of us have gotten the – I will never use this and why would someone think I wanted it.

With Knoodle it seemed like a wonderful gift. All dressed up in a nice box, bow attached and ready for use.

Good

  • Tutorials available immediately – support and help everywhere
  • Layout and look very nice
  • Fast upload times
  • Snapshot and Search
  • Presentations readily visible
  • Drag and drop window

Average

  • Standard files available for upload
  • Ability to create tests, presentations, courses
  • Dashboard with histogram
  • Ability to add groups

Poor

  • Confusing once you dive into the product – see below
  • News and announcements at bottom of the screen – honestly, I don’t care and I do not want it – waste of space (not sure if this is only visible in the freebie, but if it universal – ugh)
  • Problems with recording audio
  • Video goes in and out with the audio – They explain it has to do with the latest version of Flash, but how about coming up with an alternative. See an example below
  • Problems abound within the product – not bugs mind you, just poor processes (IMO)
  • Library not visible on the screen – unless you add media/files, etc.

Gift wrapped

After logging into Knoodle you go right to the main screen

Below this screen is “My Presentations” and “Knoodle News” mainscreen

At the top of the screen are the headers:

  • Home – your main screen
  • Manage – Presentations, Courses, Tests, Portable Presentations
  • Groups – have to click on “Groups” to see the window with your groups listed and the option to “Create New Group”
  • Support
  • Your Account – make changes to your information, organization, see your activity, see your portable presentation list
  • Logout

One of the befuddling issues with the headers is the inability to mouse over Groups and have the options such as “Create”, “View” “Edit” or something along those lines. The same with “Your Account” – name, organization, blah blah.

This is especially relevant since the headers are visible on every screen. People have limited time and having to go extra steps – I know you might be thinking “I’m only clicking” – still makes no sense.

Let’s dive back into the main window box – which is similar to viewing a gift box and trying to figure out what it is – without shaking it.

mainwindows

One of the features I do love about the product is the ability to drag and drop – yet this is the only screen you can do it from.

Once you add slides or media, it goes to your Library – which is fine, but to add more you have to use the buttons.

I found this to be an issue because I thought you could just drag and drop, which wasn’t the case.

Yeah you could view the tutorials, etc. – but how many people really do that? I mean when was the last time you looked at a manual or even a game manual to see what to do? Many people just jump right in.

Under Slides

The following is available:

  • Choose from Library
  • Upload from Computer
  • Import from Google docs

Under Add Media

  • Record Live Audio/Video
  • Choose from Library
  • Upload from Computer

Let’s talk about the “record live audio and or video option”. When clicking this option, the next window will ask your permission to access/use your webcam and mic. Seems simple enough. On the right side of the screen, you name your presentation, select either “video” or “audio” and cancel, preview and save.

I found the record live audio and video (which is occurs when you select “video”) to be a disappointment. Even when just doing it, I saw delays and then upon saving it and viewing it (in preview), massive synch issues. Now considering I have a super fast broadband connection this shouldn’t be happening.

Another irritation is that it saves it as a .flv file. I’d love to know how you can use this with the iPad and Safari? Sure you can use an alternative browser, but the vast majority of people don’t do it.

Opening the gift – anticipation is high

After you select create – which you can do after adding media or slides, the screen changes to

timetoedit

On the top you write the name of the presentation, and a brief description.

The main window is your presentation.

On the side toolbar:

  • Add/edit slides
  • Add/edit media
  • Add/edit tests
  • Record Voiceover

The timeline enables you to move around the slides and synchronize them to whatever you have added. In my case I added an audio file.

Under Synchronization

  • Play and Synch
  • Set Slide Duration
  • Clear all Synch Points

It is within this whole screen that Knoodle seemed to misplace the following feature

  • Ability to play on the screen, rather than click Preview to do so – which is how the product is set up. I saw this as just one reason to scream at the product, “What were you thinking?’

Other buttons are “Cancel” and “Save as Draft”.

Gift is open

After saving as a draft, a popup box tells you that the presentation has been saved. The screen changes to show you the presentations you have already saved or if this is your first one – it shows that. An image of the presentation is visible, along with the name/description, last modified and status.

On the right side of the main block are some options

  • Edit – Edit slides/add synched media and tests to the presentation
  • Properties – Modify name, keyword and description of the presentation
  • Attachments – Add attachments to the presentation and/or add links to other web sites
  • Publish – Click to publish presentation and make it live
  • Copy the presentation
  • View options – how users can view the presentation, which includes annotation/notes, office hours (chat), e-mail notifications, user rating and so on
  • Access Links – can be sent to users so they can view the presentation directly and the system shows you (the client – not end user) how the end users are accessing the presentation
  • Collaborate – add users who can collaborate on this presentation
  • Collaboration notes – Post a comment for other collaborators to read

Gift is either something you want or want to toss

After you publish the presentation, you see

editscreen

On the screen, the end user can play the presentation – and any media – say voice overs, music, etc., as well as some other features.

These features are

Annotation/Notes, attachments, comments (on my screen it is visible, but the default is off), chat – more on that in a sec., e-mail content creator, rate, bookmark, post info.

The chat function was strange. When you click it you see a window where you can set time, etc – but it calls itself “office hours” – which is higher education, but what if you are corporate? Who in the heck calls themselves office hours? Even weirder is that it says “chat now” and that is the only option. What if I don’t want to chat now? Personally, dump this feature and offer some social media components right there on the screen. Maybe send link to Linkedin or Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Again, with over 2,400 social media sites you can go beyond.

Personally, there should be a button for Slideshare.

Once I clicked “Publish”, a popup appears with some information. One of the options is the ability to generate a portable presentation. Because I was using the free version, I was unable to use this feature and thus cannot tell you what it looked like and how it played on a mobile device.

Creating courses follows the same fashion as creating a presentation, so I won’t bore you.

Creating tests is simple enough, but you have limited question options. True/False/Yes/No, multiple choice and text response. Knoodle also offers you the ability to hide questions, set minimum scores/percentages, show teacher comments (again education) and a couple of other items.

I’ll be frank here. I love products that are fun to use and create. Especially when you have to do multiple things. This product was far from it. I couldn’t see how they could call themselves a social learning platform, because it seemed more to be an online authoring system or if you want to stretch it, a hybrid next gen lite LMS.

Bottom Line

In the end, this was a gift I did not want. A shame really because anticipation was high. I’d love to tell you that I will keep and cherish this gift forever, but that isn’t the case.

Perhaps I will re-gift it to someone else. Maybe they will enjoy it.

Then again, maybe not.

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