eLearning Design Lab
Authoring System and Tool Development Projects
Central to each project undertaken by the eDL is a commitment to scalability. The lab does not pursue grants or contracts that have a limited target audience. The goal is to conduct research, develop, validate and distribute systems and tools that enhance scalability. The typically involves the development of our authoring system or tool to produce final products that go to scale.
The Design and Development of a Scaleable E-Learning Resource Authoring (ERA) System
Description: This authoring system has gone through several versions and is used in most of our online production at the postsecondary level. It is often modified to meet specific needs of funding agencies.
This flexible and scaleable e-Learning Resource Authoring (ERA) system is designed to support the rapid development of content structures, instructional features and user interfaces. By separating content from design, we execute rapid global refinements to the user interface while maintaining reliability in large-scale e-Learning resource development. The user interface elements include multiple navigation strategies with pagination and position indicators, a main table of contents and sub-menus that support a modular design allowing lessons to be used independently. Interactive features include: multiple choice and open-ended assessments with tailored remediation and hyper reference links to context sensitive glossaries and other instructional features. The primary instructional components are the lesson previews and presentations that are available in a text format and streaming media versions with segmented play lists. Over fifty e-Learning modules have been developed with ERA. Modules can be easily mirrored on remote servers using commonly available web and streaming media software.
The Development and Validation of Modular E-book Authoring System (MEBA)
Description: The first e-book created through the use of this system was released in March of 2006.
The Modular e-Book Authoring (MeBA) System was developed for creating interactive instructional e-books. The system is designed to support the rapid development of content structures, instructional features, and user interfaces. MeBA is a comprehensive system for developing instructional e-books including content management protocols and tools, authoring software, production processes and formative evaluation tools. MeBA is designed to provide a system for individual authors, publishers, educational or training organizations who wish to produce textbooks, reports, or training resources in an interactive e-book format. The instructional e-books produced with MeBA provide multiple renderings of information including: (1) a multimedia format for the basic content, activities, assessments, glossaries, case studies, graphics and audio; (2) a text-based format where users may access all instructional features from icons embedded in the text. Unique cross-referencing capabilities allow learners to easily connect assessment features with the relevant content. MeBA was subjected to extensive formative testing throughout development. MeBA is designed to create e-books that can be used independently in an entirely electronic format or with a compatible print version.
A Reusable Object Creation and Management System (Alabama State Department of Education. Internal funding from KTEC)
Description: The initial purposes were to create a system for disaggregating online instructional products into learning objects for placement in a searchable repository that would allow for searching and the recreation of customized instructional units. It soon became apparent that the system had potential a tool with broader applications. Additional funding has been obtained from KTEC through a local competition conducted by the Information technology and telecommunication Center.
The system will consist of three distinct pieces: (i) a database of instructional content, (ii) an interactive tool that will allow users to search, modify, and contribute to the database, and (iii) an output engine that will create content and learning objects in a format useful in developing online courses.
We define a reusable instructional unit (RIU) as the smallest useful standalone component that can be used as a part of a lesson. We will develop a representation scheme for RIUs that can be stored in a searchable database. However RIUs by themselves are of limited utility. They gain substance and value when packaged into higher level groupings such as lessons and ultimately complete courses. We will therefore also develop a hierarchical structuring mechanism that will be built into the database to allow nested groups of RIUs. Internally, we will simply have a general tree whose leaf nodes are the RIUs, and whose interior nodes are the grouping constructs, perhaps with associated contextual data. Externally, we will employ a mechanism like style sheets to control the names associated with levels in the tree. For example, we may use group to denote a simple collection of RIUs; lesson may denote a collection of groups; module may be a collection of lessons; etc.
We will further propose to develop an interactive tool that teachers can use to create their courses while using and contributing to our database. They will be able to browse the database of RIUs and groupings thereof, search in a number of ways (e.g., by keyword, by grade level, etc.), and construct their own lessons as hierarchical sets of RIUs.