Jul 21, 2008

Learning snacks

What's in a name? You can a small learning unit an object (SCO from the SCORM standard), or a module, a lesson, ... Microsoft has a new name: on their Windows 2008 website they offer 'learning snacks' for free.
It are little modules on some of the features of their new server product in their usual e-learning format: a combination of a menu, static information, and simulations.
It plays in a nice Silverlight player. Silverlight is Microsoft's competitor for Flash and just like Flash requires a one time installation of the free Silverlight player. After that, it just plays in your browser, and as Microsoft will push their format in the time coming, you'll hear more of it.

One thing struck me while viewing a sample: either Text-To-Speech voices have become very good, or the man speaking the text on the simulations has a bad cold or is a cyborg. :-)

Web-based e-learning authoring tools

I'm a strong fan of complete web-based e-learning authoring tools. With the Rich Internet Client applications these days (often build with Flash Flex or Ajax), it is not needed anymore to install local programs to create courses. Furthermore, online tools ensure better collaboration during the development phase because just like learning, making learning is in essence a social and collaborative activity. These online editors often share a common online media library, have workflow features (for example for reviews), and allow for publishing in SCORM or other formats. They are often more simple to use because they heavily rely on screen templates or educational templates.

Here is a list:
- Udutu.com : beta site I wrote in this blog about before. Free authoring via Flash-based forms.
- http://www.rapidintake.com/unison/index.htm : similar product, by the makers of FlashForms
- http://www.coursebuilder.no/ by Edvantage: Course Builder is an online platform for course creation. Don't confuse it with an Adobe product of the same name.
- http://www.composica.com/product/ : online elearning tool for 150$ per author per month
- http://www.courseliner.com/ : courseliner is a French commercial tool

Jul 19, 2008

Knol = a unit of knowledge according to Google

It's one of the things Google is experimenting with, when they are not making maps of the moon or so. They started a by-invitation only project called Knol, which is short for knowledge. The idea is to bring authors and their expertise status back into the web. I'm not sure what it looks like, it seems like a wiki for experts only that other people can comment on but not change. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in due time, but if nothing else, we have a new cool word for 'a unit of knowledge', a knol. It sounds so much better than learning object, doesn't it?

More information and a screenshot on the official Google blog.

Jul 17, 2008

Masie survey on how employees learn

The Masie Consortium did a survey on how employees learn. You can read some findings here:


Some of the points I remember are:
- People like the fact they have multiple options on what, how and when they learn. There used to be only a class. Now there is also tutoring, e-learning, social networks, the internet, etc.
- But people also get the feeling that with more options, they actually get less time for learning.
Looks like corporate learning is shifting to 'more freedom but in your own time'.

Flash movie tool online: toufee.com

I'm not producing any flash for my sites. The reason is that although the result is visually better than HTML with combined javascript, I just don't have the skills or the money to do proper flash development. Once in a while I'm temped to use an easy (and I mean REAL easy) flash tool.

I recently stumbled upon toufee.com. Warning: I haven't tried it out, because they charge (a little) for it, but it looks like a good tool if all you want is to quickly make some animated movies or text transitions. It's made by a couple of Indians. There is an article on TechCrunch on them here.

Scorm Test Track online by Rustice Software (free)

A tool I frequently use to check an e-learning SCORM package is the free and online SCORM Test Track by Rustici Software.

Just make an account and upload your SCORM packages. You can launch the course, and track all the SCORM communication in detailed logs or just the major items like completion status and score information. Highly recommended tool for testing if your course is SCORM compatible and communicates the necessary information to the LMS.

The tool itself will not solve any compatibility problems between your course (authoring tool) and learning platform, but is a great help. The problem with especially SCORM 1.2 is that the same standard can be interpreted in multiple ways. I give you one example: there is an API to tell the LMS you are moving to another page. But the standard doesn't say if you have to specify the page ID you are moving away from, or the one you are going to.

Jul 16, 2008

Site with quiz and testing tools

This site lists many free or commercial tools to create quizzes or tests.