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Tools & Technologies

 When choosing what tools to use to create learning objects, one must be careful.  There are a number of technologies available to make elearning content quickly and rapidly.  It all depends on the length of your project and the amount of development time you have to invest.

HTML - an old standard.  This is a relatively safe bet.  Even writing something in HTML will require revision throughout the years.  The W3C, or the World Wide Web Consortium, develops standards, specifications, and guidelines for writing HTML.  These standards change throughout the years to allow for new technologies.  Currently, you should consider making your pages XHTML compliant, instead of just using HTML.  There is a push from the community to separate design logic from data.  This new way of thinking has changed HTML--so that one must think of XML and also CSS.  In the past it was pretty easy to code HTML and not properly close tags like <img> or <br> and browsers would still interpret the page properly without producing errors.  It was also common to wrap <font> tags around paragraphs and data to describe how it should be displayed.  XHTML requires all tags to be properly ended in order to validate, and CSS is a file that contains all of the font and display information for the entire document.  Although it isn't easy, it is a good idea to retrofit old HTML pages into the new standards.  Products like Macromedia Dreamweaver make the process easier.  And for extremely easy maintenance of HTML pages, Macromedia has created a product called Contribute for the content provider.

Video - getting easier and easier.  Products like iMovie have made all of the difference in the ability for the casual user to be able to produce small, instructional video clips.  Instructors are also using video inside of their classrooms to motivate their students to create interesting projects.

SWF - this stands for Shockwave Flash.  This format used to be reserved for Macromedia's Flash software, however, there are now a number of products that output to this file format. Macromedia published the specifications for this file format in 1998 to make it available to the larger community.  [This was in part due to the fact that Macromedia wants to ensure that browsers continue to support the Flash Player technology.]

Robodemo - is a product Macromedia purchased from a company called Ehelp.  It provides an easy interface and a way to make swf files from PowerPoint presentations.

Viewlet Presenter - a competing product to Robo, that sells for the inexpensive price of $99.

DHMTL and Javascript - Dynamic HTML and Javascript are two ways to program your HTML pages to get a bit more interactivity.  Once you add more interactivity to your web pages, you will find that it comes at a price.  DHTML and Javascript will be interpreted differently on various browsers.  It is also very difficult to have a very code heavy page and maintain accessibility guidelines.

DHTML - a tutorial on combining DHTML, Javascript, and CSS to make your web pages more dynamic.

Javascript - there are a ton of references on the internet for free javascripts ( the javascript source, javascript.com, and javascript central to name a few...)  The really interesting thing about javascript is the way it has been implemented with the Macromedia products.  There is a javascript API that is written for Flash which allows you to extend the product to add new tools and functionality.  Also,  javascript can be used to created extensions for use inside of Dreamweaver or Fireworks.

Hot Potatoes - a very easy to use development tool that creates crosswords, drag and drop exercises, and fill in the blank exercises.  This is a great tool created by Stewart Arneil and Martin with the cooperation of the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre.

 

 

 

Last updated: 06/21/2004
2004