Wow, I feel really torn about posting about this at all. When I stumbled across this today I was quite excited; while the promise of content interoperability has been there for quite a while now, the availability of easy to use tools for producing such content outside of the CMS delivery environments has been scarce. So any time I see a tool like this I am anxious to check it out. more…
Continue reading “XERTE – Free Visual Editor for SCORM compliant Flash Learning Objects”
Bruce pointed me to a video of a talk by Barry Schwartz to staff at Google on “The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less.” (Worth a view – examines the idea that facing a plethora of choices, people act less, not more, that more choices has the paradoxical effect of inducing paralysis).
This led me to realize that Google is filming all of the talks of invited guest experts to their staff and posting them on Google Video for all to share. The topics range from the technically daunting (for me at least – “Multiview Geometry for Texture Mapping 2D Images onto 3D Range Data” oh my!) to the enlightening (“Impact of Technology on Reducing Poverty and Alleviating Social Issues in India”). Though I truly still hate this as a way to learn things, hard not to say “Good on ya” Google! – SWL
Like I said, “affable tools for rich media manipulation” – a few years back I wrote about the availability of some Flash-based authoring tools from the UBC Arts Computing group. Since then, they have created many more; in addition to the original timeline tool, they’ve developed a multimedia learning object authoring tool, a vocabulary memorization platform,’ a language pronunciation tool and a very cool character stroke recorder for Asian characters.
In the past these had all been freely available, but only in a version hosted on the UBC server. Now all of these tools are available for free download so you can install them on your own server and offer them to faculty for use in your own environment. I am also looking forward to working with these guys to integrate these tools with SOL*R and to see them work with other environments. – SWL
Staying with the Sakai-theme for a bit (but in fact the more interesting theme emerging for me is “affable web-based tools for rich media manipulation,” more to come), in the Sakai wiki I came across Project Pad from Northwestern University. It is a suite of audio and video annotation tools, including tools to annotate quicktime a/v files, flash movies and mp3 audio streams, still images, and do audio transcription. The suite includes two tools for searching and managing content stored in external digital media repositories such as Fedora systems, Z39.50 library catalogs, and Google and uses the Common Query Language. And it looks to be becoming integrated with Sakai. Not sure this is a flickr-killer (but who says it needed killing anyways) but maybe one alternative worth investigating for those attracted by some of that functionality (it is actually much broader) but uneasy with sending their faculty off to 3rd party commercially hosted services. – SWL
Note to self: The start of November is a bad time to launch a new system if you also want to attend conferences 😉
So while I have no time to be away right now, I am lucky to be spending this week in downtown Vancouver with a good portion of the academic world’s best minds in the field of learning object networks research.
I am not going to even try blogging the conference. My boat anchor of a laptop’s wireless doesn’t work (2 weeks and counting until brand-spanking new laptop arrives!) and I’m a lousy typist to begin with. Instead, here’s a brain dump of questions the first few sessions triggered for me or quotes that roused me enough to write them down:
– if the metadata field isn’t mandatory, don’t even ask for it
– what is the equivalent of a ‘playlist’ for learning objects? Is it the re-aggregated form (lesson, course) or something else? (and how do we get the information? how do we build the last.fm of learning objects)
– handles/unique IDs *are* in fact an important issue (and URLs aren’t the solution for them, but neither is any system that requires manual work to create the handle).
– need to find out how people (mainly instructors at this point) make evaluative judgements on the potential usefulness of a learning resource? what do they base it on? how long do they actually take in making these judgements?
– identity management is *the* major nut to crack for the next tsunami of innovation to break (web 3.doh?!)
Sorry if these don’t make any sense to anyone but me (do they make sense to me?) Wish you were here 😉 – SWL
The folks at Connexions have released the software that powers that site as open source code, so presumably you can now run your own instance if you wanted. Connexions is neat in that it shows a working example of learning content as XML being re-aggregated and re-skinned. For me the challenge with its particular implementation is in how the content is created – the Word-to-CXML convertor has got to be a great improvement over asking faculty to hand-code XML (where but at a Science and Engineering school could you even begin to get away with this), but it still strikes me as a barrier to the approach. That said, 115 courses/2000+ modules is nothing to sneer at, so clearly some users are willing to use the current set of tools on offer through Connexions. It should be noted too that the paradigm for reusable content has always been more reusers than original authors, and in this regard, reusing content in other contexts once created in Connexions seems reasonably straightforward.
Tools like eXe offer some glimmer of what an easier to use tool to author learning content that was also XML might look like, but I’m not sure I’m convinced yet. Some will no doubt rejoin about the virtues of RSS in this regard; again, I remain interested but unconvinced. Not of the virtues of XML or of the traction of RSS for syndication of content, but unconvinced that it represents the solution of how to easily author learning content in a format that is then easily findable, re-aggregatable or re-presentable (which I take to be the problem at hand, but maybe I’ve misunderstood). Structured blogging? Again, maybe.
I know that in my own project, our first attempt to get an approach working that made use of an XML database as a backend failed. Our second attempt, which went into pilot last week, uses The Learning Edge. It doesn’t deal with XML-native content at all, mostly because no one has any for us to deal with. It focuses on dealing with what people do have – all sorts of HTML, Word docs, powerpoints, PDFs, Flash movies. It tries to assist with re-use (the ‘re-aggregating and re-presenting’ above) by integrating a WYSIWYG authoring environment directly with the repository that allows people to drag and drop existing content into new collections. We will see how it works. I am definitely not holding it up as the way to do this either; in general I remain unconvinced (and exhausted) by the entire enterprise, and mostly just want to go off and play my bass. – SWL
If you are currently using or planning to use LAMS or Atutor and are located in B.C. or Alberta, please let me know. I am currently scouting out integration opportunities for our repository software, and these two are potential ones that have come up, but I need to know if its of any value to my current stakeholders (no, I’m not planning a takeover of Alberta; we have colleagues there who are also implementing the same repository software). – SWL