Thursday, May 31, 2012

Capacity Focus, 46b: Xerte video tutorials, Moodle and e-course development

Last time, we took a first look at Xerte -- a slide-oriented learning objects development toolkit, which has been called "the Moodle Saviour." This is important to the ongoing push to develop a viable cybercampus based education system for the Caribbean, and of course the AACCS. (A Xerte-Moodle based cyber education development course looks good for educator development too . . . )

Let's see if the just named and linked slideshare presentation will embed, as it is itself a good intro:

Now of course, Xerte is based on scripting, so the developers can build further options on top of the 54 slide types that are already shared in the download; though it should be noted that the slides are a bit rigid -- they are not set up to move elements around etc, but then, that may actually be a good point for ordinary teachers -- if you want a fancy slide show, do it in PPT etc, then export to Flash and use as a multimedia object.  (Don't forget, too much of bells and whistles makes for distractions.)

In the meanwhile, let us look at how we can build on familiarity with PowerPoint (or Open Office's Impress or Google's online presentation app, etc) and use Xerte as a tool for educators. 

From having run through the series yesterday, I can vouch that Ron Mitchell's tutorial series (7 - 15 or so minutes each) at YouTube will work well for this:
 1] Xerte Online Toolkit: Tools and terms

2] XOT Text based pages

3] XOT Learning object icon properties

4] XOT Graphics and Sound

5] XOT Zoom-morphing an image to a close-up

6] XOT exporting and re-editing learning objects

7] XOT integration with Moodle, part 1

8] XOT integration with Moodle, part 2
It will of course help to familiarise oneself with what can be done, by looking here at a run through of the various slide types, and the sampler itself is full of ideas so it is a good example course.

Onward, the thing is to integrate Xerte into Moodle, which is a full bore educational content and administration management system, also free for download. Let's just say, that Open University has gone for it, to give an impression of how useful it is. (Of course, it is also used by the ever so familiar UWI for its Open Campus.)

This course in the Scratch Programming Language shows how Moodle works, with multimedia elements. The Mt Orange demo dummy school, shows how Moodle can be used to develop a cybercampus. As tutorial sessions 7 & 8 above show, Xerte can be integrated, and of course so can be other content development packages.

Of course, to practice, it is suggested that you try the sandbox, but -- from a comment in one of the tut vids -- that looks like it is only accessible from academic sites in the UK. Ouch, rather limiting. At any rate you can get Moodle and Xerte as an integrated package, here, for use on a USB stick, for playing around. Indeed, in the video tuts, that is exactly what Mitchell uses.

The bottomline is obvious: we have a viable free- for- download option for building cybercampuses and for building courses. Of course, it would be wise or even necessary to invest in some technical and learning resources and research/learning time to develop the skills set, and to document that learning. 

It would be great if that in turn could be made into professional development courses!

The feasibility of the proposed AACCS etc is now ever more plain. So, our real choice is whether we will do it for ourselves, or it will be done to us by those with agendas that do not have our best interests at heart. 

Therefore, again: why not now, why not now, why not us? END