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[school-discuss] Re: [IIEP] FOSS authoring tool for e-learning - eXe project AND ILIAS

Perhaps there are some of us who are not aware of the Open Source e-learning project called Ilias, which is steadily improving and getting certifications from standards groups.  Their latest: compose learning modules in OpenOffice.org and directly import into Ilias.  see below:


The new stable release ILIAS 3.2.1 is now available for Download, see:
http://www.ilias.uni-koeln.de/ios/source-e.html. It includes some smaller
bug fixes for 3.2.0 (please see ILIAS Roadmap and Releases: http://www.homer.ilias.uni-koeln.de/docu/goto.php?target=st_126).

Comments are welcome in our forum:
For bug reports please use our bug tracker at:

Wayne Mackintosh wrote:
Hi Vivek & friends
Great to hear about your work in Nagpur. I share your sentiments that we do not make enough use of games and simulations in e-learning - particularly in subjects like Mathematics to illustrate core principles using the power of multi-media interaction.
As the eXe project develops over time - I would certainly like to experiement with reusable simulation and game templates as idevices. Also - we should use the power of technology to for diagnostic assessment purpose to improve the quality of our e-teaching. Developing these capabilities in a technology like eXe will not be easy - but I think the long term rewards will be worth the effort. Perhaps India's wealth in programming talent will be able to make valuable contributions to our FOSS efforts.
I too have been enjoying the forum - although my work does not always afford me the time to participate meaningfully.
Chat to you soon
----- Original Message -----
From: Vivek Wagh
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: [IIEP] FOSS authoring tool for e-learning - eXe project

Hi Wayne,
I have been a silent reader till now. I have hardly any knowledge about various things that have been discussed so far. I am working at Central India Research Institute at Nagpur in India. It is a small Trust. We are making serious effort towards one of our major goals: Stress-Free Quality Education for Every Child at her Doorstep. By training I am a mathematician who swithched over to studying dynamics of knowledge assimilation. We have started DE (Multimedia) programs for parents, students who have a difficulty in coping with Math and a Talent Nurture program for 4th to 8th graders.
  1. If the eXe project includeds modifyable computer games in which you can change the objects that fall or flow in or on which you jump etc. it will go a long way.
  2. Just as evaluation of learning has to be there a component of diagnostic evaluation of possible sources of errors should also be included.
I do not know if all this is possible but I do feel we should work towards this. I must say that I am enjoying this forum and trying hard to learn.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2004 1:00 PM
Subject: 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.
General issues
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.
Specific suggestions
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 -----
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 11:16 PM
Subject: 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 learning objects.
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.

Some suggestions?
Specific labeled fields to introduce: exercises, examples, assessment tools/templates, competency definition...
Why not include for each kind of field a help to support the author to make a better instructional design...
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 assessment.
If not in this one perhaps next version of this tool will include such features.

What is your calendar for this project?.
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

Claude Martin
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


> 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 and
> 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 imported
> 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 time
> 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 would
> 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 visiting
> 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:
> //eduforge.org/wiki/wiki/exe/?pagename=HomePage

> More links are provided below if you’re interested..
> Best wishes
> Wayne

> Associate Professor Wayne Mackintosh
> Director
> Centre for Flexible and Distance Learning
> University of Auckland
> New Zealand
> http://cfdl.auckland.ac.nz

> Project Charter: http://eduforge.org/wiki/wiki/exe/wiki?pagename=Version%203
> Access to Proof-of-concept: http://eduforge.org/docman/?group_id=20
> Describing an instructional device: http://eduforge.
> org/wiki/wiki/exe/wiki?pagename=Describing%20an%20Idevice
> University of Oxford Case study on XML in education: http:
> //eduforge.org/wiki/wiki/exe/wiki?pagename=case%20study%20on%20using%20XML