Original Message -----
Thursday, December 02, 2004 1:00 PM
Re: [IIEP] FOSS authoring tool for e-learning - eXe project
Hi Martin and friends,
Thanks for your feedback -
valuable thoughts and contributions. First off - can I have permission
to copy your thoughts and insights onto the eXe project on Eduforge.
Its smart thinking and I'd like our development team to have benefit of
your insights. Apologies for the long response - but you have triggered
a number of important aspects relating to the eXe development. (Sorry -
eXe is my passion <smile>).
We are very excited about the
project -- I think that eXe fills an interesting gap in the suite of
available technologies in the FOSS for elearning landscape. Thanks also
for your offer to introduce the technology at your "Learning Media
Design" workshops . That would be fantastic because we are looking for
constructive feedback from potential users to make sure that we end up
with something that many folk will use.
Martin - I'd like to extend a
personal invitation for you (and everyone else of course) to join the
project @ http://eduforge.org/projects/exe/.
Your experience and foresight in this area will add considerable value
to our project. We need your inputs and thoughts.
Herewith some feedback on the
questions and ideas you have raised.
1) On-line versus off-line: eXe
will be developed as an offline technology that will run in a browser
on the local desktop. Users will NOT need connectivity to use eXe. I
know that this is a bit confusing at this stage, because the
proof-of-concept runs using a server based technology however eXe will
NOT use a centralised server technology. eXe will be an easy install
using python's py2exe. We will package python's http webserver to run
on the local desktop which will enable us to deal with the logic
required of eXe. We're also thinking of packaging eXe with Firefox -
however all output from eXe will be cross browser compatible. I'd be
interested to hear the views of the forum on this strategy. In short,
users will be able to install, run and deploy eXe content without any
connectivity. This is a "non-negotiable" requirement for eXe so as to
ensure that we do not exclude developing societies from using the
technology. However, all outputs will be SCORM compliant - so LMS
technologies will be able to import eXe content.
2) Not only will authors be able
to fill in the existing "instructional device" forms off-line, and publish HTML content - they will
also be able to create their own forms or new "instructional devices".
This is an exciting component of the technology.
3) The imsmanifest.xml file is
created automatically behind the scenes - therefore authors will be
able to publish SCORM compliant content. In other words - if you author
content using eXe - you will not need to use a tool like Reload for
packaging. However, eXe content can be packaged with other content
using the Reload editor. All users will need to do is import the eXe
generated zip file into the LMS of their choice. We know this works
because we have successfully imported content generated by the eXe
prototype into WebCT and LAMS. We have a few bugs with imports using
the MOODLE scorm import utility - but these are easily resolved and the
eXe project is funded to sort out compatibility with MOODLE.
4) We are aware of a number of
initiatives that have been working in related areas. Unfortunately
- the few we know about have been proprietary ..;-(, and more have been
reliant on online solutions. So we think that we are working in a new
unique space. To be fair though - OSS technologies have matured to the
extent that we are able to implement the eXe vision.
5) Regarding assessment tools -
working in an offline environment poses a few interesting challenges.
Nonetheless - we are confident that we will be able to provide a number
of useful, offline assessment tools (or interactive iDevices). In fact
we are working on a prototype behind the scenes for an offline MCQ
type iDevice. Soon we should be able to provide an example of this
technology. Using QTI we should be able to provide export functionality
for IMS/SCORM compliant systems. Therefore eXe could provide and
offline authoring environment for a range of assessment tools.
1. We're planning a bare-bones
first release 6 weeks into the new year - the idea is to illustrate the
eXe concept as a working tool - but with very limited functionality
(Release early and regularly applies here <smile>). Hopefully we
will have sorted out a couple of important architectural design
questions (we're scrapping the code of our proof-of-concept - I think
that we have learned what we can from this exercise and now need to
sort out all our early mistakes <smile>.
2. Within the next 7 - 10 days
we'll have a wiki up on http://eduforge.org/wiki/wiki/exe/?pagename=HomePage with
the draft specifications for the first release which will include an
area for us to build a wishlist for the future. Its a good time to get
involved with the project in terms of specifying requirements to make
sure that we're addressing your needs with the development.
3. The project is funded until
the end of December 2005 - and by this time we hope to have completed
the objectives documented in the project charter. There will of course
be a number of releases before then.
1) I'm not sure what you mean by
labeled fields to introduce: exercises, examples, assessment,
competency definition - but certainly, if we can "define" these as
iDevices - they can be incorporated. Let me know if your ideas can be
accommodated in the iDevice submission form (see http://cfdl.auckland.ac.nz/idevice_interest/introduction.html).
Otherwise, let us have more detail and we will do our best to
incorporate them into eXe.
2) Help to support the author -
Great suggestion! We've already thought about this one <smile>
each Idevice will contain pedagogical advise and support for the user
about purpose, best practice etc. In addition we will provide
contextual help for the completion of each field.
3) I agree - The design of
quality learning objectives in relation to competency is riddled with
complexity. There is also the pedagogical debate concerning
behaviourism versus constructivism. We don't have all the answers yet -
but hope to find a few as we move forward.
4) I must confess that we have
not thought much about IMS's competency specification. Our attention at
the moment has been focused on the specifications for: structured
content, simple sequencing and touching a little on QTI. (We're not
confident enough to tackle the learning design spec <smile>) -
but perhaps you could provide us with some direction on the competency
spec? Certainly this is something we would like to explore for future
releases of eXe.
Original Message -----
Tuesday, November 30, 2004 11:16 PM
Re: [IIEP] FOSS authoring tool for e-learning - eXe project
Hello Wayne and all colleagues,
I had a first look to your eXe
/ iDevice project in the different sites where information is available.
It is really a very attractive
free open source project for a tool to design and develop HTML-based
I understand that it is
actually an on-line tool but that it will be an off-line authoring tool.
It will include a range of
"instructional devices" typical of instructional design included in a
form to be filled by the author(s)
The LOM (Learning Object
Metadata) XML manifest will be produced automatically in background.
This is great!
Such LO will be ready to be
packed with Reload Editor and possibly stored in a Learning Object
Repository, exported to SCORM, or uploaded on a platform...
A few years ago Lucio Telles
from Simon Fraser University in Canada developped a similar idea. But
it was proprietary, on-line server based, and not binded to standards.
I tried it but I dont remember the name of this product.
Specific labeled fields to
introduce: exercises, examples, assessment tools/templates, competency
Why not include for each kind
of field a help to support the author to make a better instructional
Design of learning objectives
is a key issue. I know your concern about Maori pedagogy but a
structured template (including verbs to be selected in a list) should
help to design correctly structured objectives. That is a key issue to
be able to assess learning and competence.
It would be good if eXe /
iDevice include a tool to design competencies and objectives in
connection with the corresponding IMS specification.
The same for IMS - QTI to
design assessment tools.
It should be covering the
instructional cycle: from competency definition to competency
If not in this one perhaps
next version of this tool will include such features.
What is your calendar for this
As soon as a more elaborated
off-line prototype will be available it will be a pleasure to introduce
it in the workshops on "Learning Media Design" that I'm managing here.
All the best
Senior Learning Technology Specialist
Programme for Distance Education &
Learning Technologies Applications
International Training Centre of the ILO
Viale Maestri del Lavoro, 10
10127 Torino (Italy)
tel.: (+39) 011 693 6316
fax: (+39) 011 693 6469
<ELEARN-OPENSOURCE@LST.IIEP-UNESCO.ORG> wrote on 28/11/2004
> Hi everyone,
> It's been a while since I've had a
chance to post to the list - I
> see that there has been a lot of activity!
> You will recall earlier in the forum
that we are working on the
> development of an FOSS authoring tool that will enable lecturers
> teachers to publish professional web content without the need to
> become proficient in HTML markup -- This is the e-Learning XML
> editor project (eXe). eXe will be based on specifications for
> interoperability so that content authored using eXe can be
> into different LMS systems if required.
> eXe is a FOSS project that is funded by
the New Zealand government
> and is scheduled for completion by December 2005. Now is a good
> for educators and e-learning practitioners to submit requests and
> requirements for the development.
> Exe is particularly appealing for
developing society contexts
> because this web-authoring technology will be developed as an
> offline tool - enabling teachers to use the technology without the
> need for connectivity. eXe content can be published as self
> contained web sites thus enabling users to view and interact with
> the content using a local web browser offline.
> We are looking for help in two areas:
> 1. Teachers, learning designers and e-learning practitioners to
> submit requests for the types of instructional templates they
> like to have included in the development. This includes templates
> for things like learning objectives, case studies and different
> types of activity formats. Submissions can be made online by
> http://cfdl.auckland.ac.nz/idevice_interest/introduction.html .
> Instructions for completion are provided.
> 2. We are keen to develop a translation
module that will facilitate
> the translation of open content for local languages. We will be
> developing the project in Python - so if there is anyone out there
> who would like to get on board early to assist with the
> architectural design at this stage - let us know by visiting the
> project website at: http://eduforge.org/projects/exe/
> The history of the project so far can
be studied at: http:
> More links are provided below if you’re
> Best wishes
> Associate Professor Wayne Mackintosh
> Centre for Flexible and Distance Learning
> University of Auckland
> New Zealand
> Project Charter:
> Access to Proof-of-concept:
> Describing an instructional device: http://eduforge.
> University of Oxford Case study on XML in education: http: