Create a Custom Learning Portal by Leveraging Articulate Online API

Written by Gabe Anderson — Posted in Customers

Introduced just over a year ago, the Articulate Online API is a great way to extend the capabilities of your elearning delivery and tracking solution. The API allows you to do a number of things, including PayPal / e-commerce integration; user self-registration; automatic user login (single sign-on); and more.

With the built-in Articulate Online User Portal, you can give your users access to a learning portal that shows assigned courses and quizzes, along with some basic reporting capabilities. However, it’s currently not possible to customize the look and feel of the User Portal, which is a requirement for a number of customers.

Creating a Custom Learning Portal

Enter the API once more. With the API, you can create a completely customized learning portal powered by Articulate Online. It’s like building your own Learning Management System without having to worry about all the tricky technical stuff like how to invoke a call to LMSGetValue(cmi.core.lesson_mode).

One of the best examples of an Articulate Online-powered learning portal we’ve seen was created by Pivot + Levy, a Seattle-based design firm that leveraged the API to build a custom LMS for one of its customers.

Custom Learning Portal Highlights

Below is an Engage interaction containing a series of screenshots that highlight key features of the custom learning portal Pivot + Levy created for its client:

View Custom Learning Portal Interaction

Interview with Pivot + Levy

kevinbI asked Kevin Bolduan of Pivot + Levy about his firm’s experience creating the custom solution:

Why do you and your customers use Articulate Online?

We first turned to Articulate because of the great tools for creating content (Presenter, Quizmaker, etc.). We could confidently recommend these tools to our clients, especially after suffering through some older alternatives. The next natural question, of course, was “how can our clients distribute their content?” Full-featured LMSes were too cumbersome, very expensive, and, frankly, quite ugly, so out of the gate the simpler feature set and design of Articulate Online (AO) was very appealing.

As a marketing and communications agency, however, we noted limitations in the branding and organizational capabilities of AO and quickly turned to using the API. As much as we liked what AO can provide, our goal was to use the API to deliver a fully client-branded experience for end-users, while still harnessing the hosting and reporting functions found in AO.

What are your favorite product features?

The quality and breadth of the reports available from within AO are very appealing. While not available through the API quite yet, we figured out a means to pull report data so that we can display it and provide access to users in a very customized manner and, more notably, to users who wouldn’t normally have access.

What have you done with the Articulate Online API, and how is it different than the standard product offering?

Everything. 🙂 Our solution uses nearly every hook provided by the API to allow our own web-based tools to handle User and Group management (adding/deleting/modifying) as well as content management (full categorization and assigning permissions to users and/or groups). Neither admins nor users ever have to log directly into AO unless they want to get some of the comprehensive reports. This helps our clients maintain the branding of their offering both to their end users as well as to their internal teams. Our philosophy is to mirror and extend the functionality of AO.
We inherit the user, group, and content item concepts, but can take them further. One example of this is that our system allows for the concept of a Group Administrator. This is not something currently available within AO, but allows our clients to delegate management responsibilities internally.

Another example is that through AO’s API, our clients can provide access to appropriate training content. Currently, AO users are presented with a simple alphabetical list of content. Our solution enables our clients to apply their business rules to content so that different classes of users are presented with only the content relevant to them. Because AO is completely transparent to both end-users and admins in our system, they get the benefits of AO but also have the flexibility to manage their content for maximum efficiency.

What kind of feedback have you received from your customers using your Articulate Online-based solutions?

The system we created is an extranet for Christie Digital, one of the leading manufacturers of digital theater projectors in the world. Here’s what they had to say:

“With a field force spread throughout the country, and a need to provide technical training to them and our customers, Christie – Managed Services selected Pivot +Levy to assist us in designing and creating our training extranet.

“It is critically important for our technicians to have up-to-date information when servicing digital projection systems. By directing them to the site, we are assured the latest versions are being used… and we can track their usage, too. We no longer print documentation and dollar savings is significant.

“In addition, we have revised our entire curriculum into facilitated and web-based training; whereas in the past all of our training was facilitated (classroom). We are saving thousands of dollars each month by not having to fly technicians into our Cypress, CA headquarters for training. Our techs are better prepared to service the equipment because they can go online, take a course or locate information that ensures their efforts are successful.

“Our instructors spend much less time in airplanes and instead, spend more time creating content for web delivery. Productivity within this team has skyrocketed.”

If someone is interested in your services, how should they contact you?

Contact Pivot + Levy via email (, or call Paul Allen at 206-285-6191.

You can also download a PDF case study on the topic.

Thanks for sharing your story, Kevin.

Have a story you’d like to share? Let me know.

2 responses to “Create a Custom Learning Portal by Leveraging Articulate Online API”


this looks great, but I think the company have gone out of business- e-mails bounce and their website phone number rings through to a fax machine. What a shame!

Mike // Posted at 2:05 pm on November 14th, 2011

Do you build custom Learning Management Systems? If so, what is your price range?

Gerald Croswell // Posted at 7:40 pm on November 27th, 2011

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