Listed and described below is a selection of the many tools available for rapid e-learning for non-technical authors. Only those tools which members of School staff have evaluated and/or used are listed.
This software is more expensive, but provides a range of interactive templates that can be used to develop user interactivity and self assessment. The tool also supports the inclusion of the wealth of interactive elements that can be imported from other programmes – see later section of this page. A free 15-day trial version of the tool is available and the SoN has copies of this software available for use.
This is primarily a screen capture tool but which also has a Powerpoint to Flash converter - see description below.
A free version can be downloaded from the above website. This is useful for a straightforward recording and delivery of lecture materials for delivery as an online lecture. A Pro version is available that provides a customisable user template, and this is available for download as a 30-day fully-functioning trial. The tool is less suitable for the production of learning object type materials due to the limited interactive elements that it supports and the inability to import external interactive element into the user window.
Camtasia is a very well regarded tool for the production of on line content by the recording of screen animations. Recordings are output as full-motion video in various video formats (MPEG, AVI, SWF and more), producing high-quality results at the expense of large filesize. It also has an add-in that allows conversion of PowerPoint into Flash for online delivery. It provides very precise editing functionality. Additional features allow the recording of PowerPoint into MPEG4 formats that are suitable for delivery via iPod and other video devices. A 30 day free trial is available.
Unlike Camtasia, Captivate works by taking static screen snapshots and 'filling in the gaps' between them by generating mouse movements and transitions. This results in a far smaller filesize than Camtasia movies at the expense of fidelity. Captivate is very strong on interactive e-learning features, including quizzes and branching, and allows the author to add captions. It's easy to record and edit audio narrations with the built-in audio editor. Recordings are published as Flash SWF movies only, and thus need a browser with Flash Player.
This is a useful resource available to University of Nottingham staff, which uses a template-based approach to creating multimedia interactive learning objects. Go to the URL above and log in with your university username and password, then you'll be presented with a list of possible templates you can use, including:
If the 'pre-rolled' templates aren't suitable, you can liaise with the University IS Learning Team to create a custom template. The Toolkit software gives you a web link (URL) which you then distribute to your audience for 'playing' the learning object.
A big selling point of Toolkits is that they're designed to be completely accessible to users with disabilities, the Xerte team having worked with the JISC disability body TechDis in the template design.
eXe is an Open Source (and thus free) tool designed by educators for educators. It enables non-technical authors to create interactive web pages and websites based on pedagogical principles, incorporating a wide range of media (images, video, animations, etc) and exercise types (MCQ, cloze, true-false, etc). The resulting application can be packaged, with metadata, for import into learning systems such as VLEs.
The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is free of charge for those working for publicly-funded non-profit-making educational institutions, who make their pages available on the web.
A free crossword maker that allows you to create interactive crosswords that can be loaded as html pages into your PowerPoint presentations
A site that allows you to create interactive word searches. These are stored on the teachers direct site, but a unique publicly available URL allows you to link to them directly.