More options!  More choices!  More modern!  More responsive!  More accessible!

The new SoftChalk Create V11 is all about enabling you to create beautiful, interactive, responsive, accessible lessons for your students. And so we have completely rebuilt the architecture and redesigned the styling of your SoftChalk lessons. Our three objectives with this redesign effort:

The easy-to-use authoring tool itself has changed very little, but the content you generate is completely new and updated! And updating your existing content to the new format is quick and easy!

Here’s a quick look at some of the new Create 11 features:

More options! More choices! More modern!

We’ve updated and redesigned the lessons you create with SoftChalk, and in the process, we now offer three new lesson layouts to choose from.

  • Horizontal layout (see sample):
    • Designed to update the ‘look and feel’ of your lessons with these new features:
      • Customizable banner at the top of lesson page
      • Streamlined nav bar
      • Student score display in nav bar
      • Nav bar display on upward scroll makes navigating easy from anywhere in the page
      • Table of Contents display in the Sidebar
      • Customizable Sidebar that opens and closes
  • Vertical layout (see sample):
    • Designed to maximize the lesson page area devoted to content by offering:
      • Elimination of the banner at the top of the lesson page
      • Customizable sidebar includes both a title area and footer area
      • Table of Contents display in the Sidebar
      • Previous page navigation displayed on upward scroll allows more room for display of content on the page
      • Sidebar that opens and closes
  • Classic layout (see sample):
    • Designed for those who like the classic look and feel of their SoftChalk lessons, this style retains many of the classic features, but updates your lessons with:
      • Streamlined navigation
      • New sidebar options for open/close and custom widths
      • Page Names now support longer names

All of the new layouts also include these features:

  • New Overview Page replaces old table of contents page
  • Support for more than 25 new font choices and new default fonts styling text and headings in lessons
  • Support for additional heading styles (H4, H5, H6)
  • New page designs that provide more whitespace on the page
  • New color options for page designs with higher color contrast for better readability and accessibility
  • Textpoppers have been updated to Tooltips with more modern formatting and responsive design
  • QuizPoppers and Quizgroups have been updated to a more modern and responsive design
  • Tables have been updated to a more modern and responsive design
  • New option to add captions to images
  • New Sidebar options
    • Table of contents within sidebar
    • Sidebar visibility: open/close options
    • Customize the width
    • New styling
    • Customizable panels replace stock options
    • More control over heading and content display

More Responsive!

Everyone has gone mobile—so SoftChalk lessons needed to up their mobile game! And with this update to SoftChalk, you can now create beautifully responsive lesson pages that look good no matter what device or browser you’re using to view them.

The lesson page design now responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation, which makes the content usable on desktop, laptop, tablets and mobile screens. SoftChalk lessons automatically respond to the user’s environment and actions.

And it’s all “built in” to every SoftChalk lesson that you create! As the content author, you don’t have to do anything extra to ensure your content is responsive. It’s incredibly easy! (For the nerds in the audience, the new architecture behind your SoftChalk lesson HTML, CSS and Javascript is Bootstrap, an open source framework for building responsive, mobile-first content for the web.)

More Accessible!

If you’ve been using SoftChalk for a while, you know that your SoftChalk lessons already have many accessibility features “built in.” This makes it very easy for you and your organization to meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 AA requirements for online content.

But addressing accessibility is an ongoing effort at SoftChalk—we continue to elicit feedback from our users as well as experts in the field of accessibility. As such, we continue in our efforts to improve the accessibility of the content you create with SoftChalk. Below are some of the newest updates related to improved accessibility.

(Special thanks to the folks in the Disability Resources & Educational Services department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for their assistance. Jon Gunderson (Accessible IT Group Coordinator) and Lori Lane (It Accessibility Specialist) were invaluable resources who evaluated SoftChalk lesson content and provided recommendations for improvements.)

  • Visible “Skip Navigation” feature: Previously, there was a  “skip navigation” feature automatically built into every lesson page. However, the “Skip navigation” link was not visible for keyboard-only users, or screen enlarger users with low vision. The recommendation was to make the “skip navigation” link visible. In V11, the new visible “skip navigation” link appears at the top of every lesson page when the learner selects the “tab” key to tab through the lesson.
  • Table of Contents simplification: Previously, it was possible for an author to select and include multiple TOC navigation options in their lesson. Our accessibility review revealed that this could be confusing for those using screen readers. The recommendation was to allow only one TOC option in a lesson. In V11, we still provide multiple options for configuring the TOC in your lesson, but you may only choose one of those options per lesson.  e.g.—you cannot have both a drop-down TOC on the nav bar, and a TOC in the sidebar.
  • Improved accessibility of the TOC elements: Previously, some of the TOC elements were not keyboard accessible. Also, in some cases, the learner had to tab through dropdown or rollover menus (secondary list items) rather than through the primary list items first. In V11, this has been corrected.
  • Improved and Corrected page Landmarks and ARIA tagging: Previously, there were some “roles” that were duplicated in a lesson page, creating confusion for screen reader users. There were also some issues with incorrectly identified roles and landmarks. In V11, these have been corrected.
  • Changed the illogical tab order of the page: Previously, the page tab order did not follow the logical structure of the page. In V11, this has been corrected so that the tab order more closely matches the visual rendering of the page, for those using screen readers and keyboard only navigation.
  • Enhanced the visual focus indication: Previously, it was difficult for those using keyboard-only to see the visual focus indication as they tabbed through the lesson, making it difficult to identify and track where they were in the page. In V11, this has been addressed by making the visual focus indicator a more prominent outline.
  • Logo Image Alt tag: Previously, when a user added a logo image to their lesson theme, there was not an option to define an alt tag for screen readers for this image. In V11, this has been corrected.
  • Banner section heading structure: Previously, the lesson “title” that appears in the banner section of the page, was not structured with an H1 tag. The H1 tag in the banner helps the learner identify the purpose of the web page. In V11, this has been addressed by changing the structure of the title from a paragraph tag to a heading tag.
  • Sidebars used wrong default heading style: Previously, sidebar elements were structured such that each element used an H3 tag for its heading style. This impaired the heading structure of the page. In V11, this has been addressed by allowing the author to choose the appropriate heading level for the sidebar elements.
  • Some text and background color combinations did not have enough contrast: Previously, the author could choose from over 100 different “lesson styles,” some of which used text and background colors that did not have high enough contrast for users that are colorblind or low vision. In V11, the style options have been changed to offer only selections with high color contrast between background colors and text colors.
  • Order of document content was not logical for screen readers: Previously, the HTML code order of the page content was such that the sidebar content was read by a screen reader before the main content area of the page was read. This could be confusing for those using a screen reader to read the lesson page because it did not follow the visual order of the page. In V11, this issue has been corrected so that the HTML code order of the page follows the visual order of the page, with the main content area presented before the sidebar, and then footer areas of the page.

For more information about SoftChalk Create 11, contact learnmore@softchalk.com.