So at last I have reached the conclusion of this E-Learning Curve Blog series of posts about Using Open Source and Free-to-Use software in an Open Environment for E-Learning.
Now read on…
Here it is, my friends: a set of over thirty applications, utilities, tools, and technologies guaranteed to facilitate e-learning content design, development, delivery and management without hitting you in the pocket, which is an important consideration in these straitened times.
As you know if you’re a regular reader, I set myself the challenge of compiling a set of tools that enable learning professionals to undertake their courseware and content development activities according my Six Principles of Open E-Learning Environments:
- Open source or free-to-use (libre or gratis)
- Fit for purpose
- Have utility
- A genuine alternative to a commercially available application
- Not a hosted service provided by a third-party vendor
The key to developing courseware in an open environment is to use a production model that liberates instructional design and content authoring from your final media outputs. In my view, this means taking a primarily, but not exclusively, XML-based approach to your e-learning development environment. The toolkit – categorized by function – is composed of:
Instructional & Content Design Tools
Content & Media Creation and Integration: OSS Tools
- Screen Toaster|VirtualDub|CamStudio (and many more)
- GIMP (see above)
Media Creation and Integration: Free-to-use Proprietary Tools
Content Delivery Platform
Content Packaging Tools
Did I omit some tools? Certainly I left a number of promising applications out of the toolkit for a number of factors. Some reasons include:
- Still in development
- Demonstrated a poor ROI in time or effort
- Have poor functionality or feature sets
- Developed in a language other than English (oh! I wish I were a polyglot!)
- Area of functionality already well-represented
- Didn’t align with the Six principles
- …and many other reasons
But I tried to give everything on my longlist a fair shot. If your particular favorite tool is not here, let me know about it. Some people have already made suggestions for the next iteration of the list; I appreciate your taking the time to do so and I’ll follow up your suggestions in due course.
One part of the toolkit where I know there are deficiencies is in the area of assessment. My research into sourcing an appropriate tool to fit this gap is ongoing, but this post on the Connecting 2 the World blog elaborates on the topic in great depth, describes some interesting approaches, and includes a number of valuable references for further study.
I have introduced you to the tools, but not how to use them.
It would be remiss of me not to point out that if you need help devising courses or curricula with these or any other e-learning development tools, I am available for consultancy, workshops, and conferences at very reasonable rates, for all your E-Learning & Digital Media needs.
Now that the unpleasant but necessary business of the Blatant Plug is out of the way, it just remains for me to tell you that I’ll be looking at something enlightening on Monday. Call back then.