For a paper Brian Lamb and I been working on (for the OSU conference mentioned in an earlier posting ), I’ve been trying to understand content packaging programs. I ran across the ReLoad Package Editor , put together as part of a JISC project by Phillip Beauvoir and Paul Sharples at the Bolton Institute in the UK.It’s free to download and use. It does a nice job, even if it does not render packages as nicely (simple framed interface, no navigation arrows) as packages brought into the Microsoft LRN Viewer and the Package Editor that Macromedia released for use with WebCT. Could be that I don’t understand how to get that to happen! I was just pleased to find out that I can export an existing WebCT Content Module, and pull it into a variety of standards-based tools.
Must admit… modularity of export is huge for me…
I think that course management systems need to be pushing the envelope at the modular level — enabling export, not just import. How else are we going to leverage all of the material already in course management systems?
I’m not concerned about this because I think we need to be concerned with migrating out of existing systems into other systems, I just think sharing is easier when the content chunks are smaller and are easily extracted.
I posted something on this on the WebCT Users List post a while back (June 19, 2003)….
Here’s what I said:
I just returned from the First Canadian WebCT User Conference, hosted in excellent fashion by the University of Alberta. Susan Stein and her team are to be congratulated for being fabulous hosts, and providing a wonderful program.
In preparation for that conference, I was able to work with the WebCT Campus Edition 4.0 Content Migration Utility (CMU). From the standpoint of a long time user of WebCT, and in support of new users and shareable content in general –> that utility ROCKS!!!!!! (In my professional opinion as a geologist.)
The 2.0 Content Migration Utility (CMU), when installed to a 4.0 server, allows an instructor (designer) to import and export individual Content Modules, and Quiz databases (with quizzes intact, settings and all). Microsoft LRN packages (see:
http://www.microsoft.com/education/default.asp?ID=LRN2Tutorial) can also be imported*.
The key differences between this CMU and previous versions are:
1) Modularity (parts of courses, not whole courses)
2) Instructor Control (as opposed to administrator-driven)
Think about the possibilities of this.
For new course development:
1) Start with your campus or department template
2) Select relevant content modules from your colleagues or a local campus or department repository
3) Modify them for your specific context
4) Import appropriate quiz banks from colleagues or a local repository
5) Develop more materials as appropriate
6) Populate the course with your students and go.
You could also revitalize existing courses by exchanging newly developed materials and quiz banks. I can see departments working with Librarians or other academic support units (e.g., Student Services, Career Services) to develop modules that can easily
be shared and contextualized… my brain hurts with this one.
The WebCT Campus Edition 4.0 Content Migration utility, in essence, allows us to take the obscure and contentious learning object concept, and make it a reality for WebCT users. I prefer using the terms reusable media or shareable content myself.
Functionality like this should encourage more collegial sharing. Who knows – more people may start to use repositories!
Thought I would share this….
*For example, a PowerPoint, converted to LRN, can be imported into as a Content Module. One caveat — the process works for IE only — Microsoft places proprietary code so one cannot see it in Netscape. Sigh — I would love to know how to get around that!