Authoring for any System

The Set Up

My district frequently purchases digital content for online classes. The content is good – chunked information, videos (albeit usually in flash – hello future headache), and useful interactive games. The content is built for the web – essentially the content provider gives us an extremely vast website that (sorta) works like an online textbook.

The problem I face is how to best get this content into our LMS (or any LMS) in a useful way.

The content provider’s solution is to create simple hyperlinks. The old “CLICK HERE and read pages 1-20”. I’m not a fan of this because:

  1. It doesn’t keep the navigation simple. Kids quickly get cut loose from their learning narrative.
  2. It doesn’t provide any feedback mechanism for your LMS.
  3. Reading 20 pages without some kind of built in break leads to neural downshifting. And happy click-throughs of pages.

The Direction I Want to Explore

Moodle, for example, has a module called “Lesson”. A lesson takes students through a serious of pages while asking students questions at the end of each page. Based on student answers, they’ll be able to go forward in read more or skipped back to review missed material. And the usual metrics of how long students spend on the lesson as well as how many questions they got wrong are tracked.

Sort of a choose your own adventure for learning.

This is just one example of what I’d like to have in order to deliver content to students. Other options are using tools that create SCORM packages, which any LMS worth its salt will read (although most display SCORM content in the most hideous manner possible). For a long time I was a big fan of eXe (an abandoned open-source project), but now find it dated.

So What’s the Problem?

Take Spanish 1 as an example. We purchased Spanish 1 from Aventa Learning. The content from Spanish 1 came as a website that had:

  • At least 2000 individual web pages
  • Thousands and thousands of files linked or embedded in those web pages

Moving that content from webpages to a Moodle lesson is a lot of work. Not hard work, just very, very long work. My typical method is to have good old NotePad++ open (thank you find and replace) and copy/paste code, clean it up, and then add it to Moodle so that the lesson works like a dream. And it does, just after a lot code grease!

Any time I find myself doing algorithmic work, I find myself look for the code or program that will automate the process. This is a perfect example (copy, paste, search, find) that a good program could do without a human necessarily having to do the heavy lifting.

Dream Solution

What I really want is the company that allows me to pick and choose what core items I want for a class and then bundle those items in any format I want.

Say I want to teach the Declaration of Independence. I login to good old Holt/Pearson (or at the rate the publishing world is going,, pick the texts, video, quizzes, interactive games, etc. I conduct the narrative I want to teach my students using quality content. Then I hit an export button and it gives me these options:

  • Html (website)
  • ePub (standard version or Apple’s funky version)
  • SCORM or whatever to plugin to my LMS of choice
  • App (or HTML 5 dressed up as an app)

How cool would that be?

The Challenge of Getting Code to a Lesson



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