Last modified on 12 November 2011, at 05:45

EXELearning

This is the User Guide for EXE, a program for creating courses for electronic distribution. The program can be found at http://exelearning.org

Chapter 1 Introducing eXeEdit

Backgrounding eXeEdit

The eLearning XHTML editor (eXe) is a web-based authoring environment designed to assist teachers and academics in the design, development and publishing of web-based learning and teaching materials without the need to become proficient in HTML, XML or complicated web-publishing applications.

The Web is a revolutionary educational tool because it presents teachers and learners with a technology that simultaneously provides something to talk about (content) and the means to hold the conversation (interaction). Unfortunately, the power of this hypertext medium is constrained in educational settings because the vast majority of teachers and academics do not have the technical skills to build their own web pages, and must therefore rely on the availability of web developers to generate professional looking online content. The eXe is being developed to overcome a number of identified limitations:

  • Traditionally web-authoring software entails a steep learning curve; it is not intuitive and
    the applications were not designed for publishing learning content. Consequently teachers and
    academics have not adopted these technologies for publishing online learning content.
    eXe aims to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use tool that will enable teachers to publish professional
    web pages for learning;
  • Currently, learning management systems do not offer sophisticated authoring tools for web content (when compared to the capabilities of web-authoring software or the skills of an experienced web developer). eXe is a tool that provides professional web-publishing capabilities that will be easily referenced or imported by standards compliant learning management systems;
  • Most content management and learning management systems utilize a centralized web server model thus requiring connectivity for authoring. This is limiting for authors with low bandwidth connectivity or no connectivity at all. eXe will be developed as an offline authoring tool without the requirement for connectivity.
  • Many content management and learning management systems do not provide an intuitive wysiwyg environment where authors can see what their content will look like in a browser when published, especially when working offline. eXe will mimic wysiwig functionality enabling users to see what the content will look like when published online.

Overview of eXe toolsEdit

With the eXe, users can develop a learning structure that suits their content delivery needs and build a resource that is flexible and easily updated. The Outline pane of the eXe Control Panel enables users to design an outline that reflects their own preferred hierarchical structure and taxonomy, i.e. topics-sections-units, or books-chapters-verses, etc. This can be established at the outset or can develop as the resource is built.

The iDevice (instructional device) pane consists of a collection of structural elements that describe learning content. Some of these include, objectives, pre-knowledge, case studies, free text. Learning content is compiled by selecting iDevices from the iDevice menu and entering your learning content. A learning resource may consist of as few or as many iDevices as required to deliver the learning content effectively. New iDevices are in development and recommendations for additional iDevices are being sought from the wider learning community. An iDevice editor enabling users to design their own iDevices and templates has been released in an experimental format as work continues on its development.

eXe offers the ability for users to customise their published content by selecting from a range of graphical style sheets.

eXe’s Export facility allows content to be packaged in two ways. Learning resources can be packaged as a self contained web site for publishing to a web server, or as a SCORM Content Package which will enable the resource to be imported into any SCORM enabled learning management system (LMS).

Chapter 2 Starting exeEdit

WindowsEdit

To start the eXe, double-click the eXe icon that should have appeared on your desktop after installation. If you don't have an eXe icon on your desktop you will need to find the application's icon in your Windows start menu under Programs. You should probably maximise the eXe window to utilise all the space you have available to work in.

LinuxEdit

Type run-exe.sh (all lower case) from the command line. This will launch eXe.


Chapter 3 - Building a resourceEdit

This chapter is designed to guide you through using the tools in this application to produce your own learning resources. Submit

ObjectivesEdit

At the conclusion of this tutorial you will be able to:

  • Use the outline tool set to structure a resource
  • Select iDevices and add content to a resource
  • Apply a new style to a resource.

Section 1 - Defining PropertiesEdit

The Properties tab allows you to record general details about your project e.g. Title, Author, and Description. It also allows you to define the taxonomy you may prefer to use to describe the different components or levels within the resource.

ActivityEdit

To begin this activity with eXe open (see Chapter 3- Starting eXe).

1. Select the Properties tab (at the top of the authoring workspace) 2. Type a title for this resource in the Title field e.g. eXe Tutorial. 3. Type in the author details and a brief description of the resource in the space provided 4. Change the taxonomy to Module, Section, Map. (The taxonomy determines the naming convention for the different levels in the outline.) 5. Click <Done> 6. Return to the Authoring tab.

Section 2 - Defining an outlineEdit

PreknowledgeEdit

You should have completed Section 1 - Defining Properties and set the properties for your package.

The Outline tool set allows you to define the structure your project will take. This is particularly useful for large or complex projects that contain many parts or topics. On startup the authoring pane displays to the right of the eXe sidebar. The outline pane displays two defaultdnodes, draft and home.

HomeEdit

The Home node is the first page displayed when the project is exported to the web or an LMS. This is a parent node and additional child level nodes can be added under this node.

Adding nodesEdit

To add additional nodes select the parent node by highlighting the parent level and click the Add Child button (on some systems this is shown as "Add Page").

Delete nodesEdit

To delete a node select the node you want to delete and click the delete button. A dialogue message displays to check this action. Click OK to continue.

Renaming nodesEdit

Select the node you want to rename and double click. A dialogue message prompts you to enter the new name. Enter the name and click OK. This action can also be done using the Rename button

Promote/Demote arrowsEdit

The promote/demote arrows are located beneath the outline pane. Selecting a node and clicking on one of the arrows will change the position of that node with the outline structure.

ActivityEdit

Now try adding a new Module to your project. To do this click on the parent node you want the new "child" module to be associated with and click the <Add Child> button. Select the new module and double click or click <Rename>. Add a title, in this case call it eXe Tutorial.

Section 3 - Selecting iDevicesEdit

PreknowledgeEdit

You should have completed Section 2 - Defining an outline.

iDevices are instructional elements that provide a framework within which to set your content.

Activity An activity can be defined as a task or set of tasks a learner must complete. Provide a clear statement of the task and consider any conditions that may help or hinder the learner in the performance of the task.
Attachment The Attachment iDevice allows you to place files, e.g. pdf, ppt, etc., within your content that you want learners to be able to access.
Case Study A case study is a story that conveys an educational message. A case study can be used to present a realistic situation that enables learners to apply their own knowledge and experience to. When designing a case study you might want to consider the following:
  • What educational points are conveyed in the story
  • What preparation will the learners need to do prior to working on the case study
  • Where the case study fits into the rest of the course
  • How the learners will interact with the materials and each other e.g. if run in a classroom situation can teams be setup to work on different aspects of the case and if so how are ideas feed back to the class.
Free Text Area The majority of a learning resource will be establishing context, delivering instructions and providing general information. This provides the framework within which the learning activities are built and delivered.
Image with Text Graphic representations with explanation can provide emotional (affective) and learning task (cognitive) dimensions to the learning.
Multiple choice choice Question Although more often used in formal testing situations MCQs can be used as a testing tool to stimulate thought and discussion on topics students may feel a little reticent in responding to.

When designing a MCQ test consider the following:

  • What are the learning outcomes are the questions testing
  • What intellectual skills are being tested
  • What are the language skills of the audience
  • Gender and cultural issues
  • Avoid grammar language and question structures that might provide clues
Objectives Objectives describe the expected outcomes of the learning and should define what the learners will be able to do when they have completed the learning tasks.
Preknowledge Prerequisite knowledge refers to the knowledge learners should already have in order to be able to effectively complete the learning. Examples of pre-knowledge can be:
  • Learners must have level 4 English
  • Learners must be able to assemble standard power tools
Reading Activity Provide learners with structure to their reading activity. This helps put the activity in context for the learner. It is also important to correctly reference any reading materials you refer to as this models best practice to the learners. Not always essential if covered in the course content but providing feedback to the learner on some of the main points covered in the reading may also add value to the activity.
Reflection Reflection is a teaching method often used to connect theory to practice. Reflection tasks often provide learners with an opportunity to observe and reflect on their observations before presenting these as a piece of academic work. Journals, diaries, profiles and portfolios are useful tools for collecting observation data. Rubrics and guides can be effective feedback tools.
True-False Question True-false questions present a statement that requires the learner to make a determine whether or not the statement is true or not.
Wikipedia Article Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia being developed by contributions from the web community. The wikipedia article idevice takes a snap shot of an article and embeds it into the content. Changes made to the article will not automatically be updated to Wikipedia so changes made to the wikipedia content in your content should be submitted on wikipedia as well.
  • What educational points are conveyed in the story
  • What preparation will the learners need to do prior to working on the case study
  • Where the case study fits into the rest of the course
  • How the learners will interact with the materials and each other e.g. if run in a classroom situation can teams be setup to work on different aspects of the case and if so how are ideas feed back to the class.

To demonstrate iDevices in action take a look through the examples below.

Multiple Choice QuestionEdit

Which iDevice would you use to describe the learning outcomes of a learning resource?

  • Reflection
  • Multiple choice Question
  • Objectives
  • Preknowledge

Move on to Sub-section1 of this section Entering content into the iDevice to enter content.