Exploring the new version of Xerte…20 November 2015
by Dewi Parry
Last week, the team took part in “Xerte Day”, a day long training/scoping session with Ron Mitchell, the University consultant for Xerte Online Toolkits.
What is Xerte Online Toolkits?
As we mentioned in October, Xerte is a suite of browser-based tools that allow anyone with a web browser to create interactive learning materials quickly and easily. Content can be delivered to all devices using responsive styles.
Xerte provides simple to use page templates for creating interactive teaching materials. Content is assembled using an intuitive interface, and multiple users can collaborate on shared projects. We have recently updated the software to Version 3.0, which has several advantages, the main being the ability to use a text editor, as opposed to coding changes yourself, which you had to do with the older versions. Which leads me on to the next part…
What’s new in this version (Version 3.0)?
The new release ends previous dependence on the flash player and introduces a very powerful new editor for authoring projects. It also comes with a number of new templates, a new look and feel, a much improved interface and a wealth of smaller fixes an enhancements.
What we have been really impressed with is the new bootstrap template (above). It’s clean and easy to use, and we will let you know when we have some examples we can show you. For now, take a look at and example learning object using the bootstrap template by Nottingham University.
We also like the City themed tab interaction template (left). This theme mimics the style and layout of templates shared on sites like Articulate. Ron has created a learning object around this theme.
Who uses Xerte Online Toolkits at Cardiff University?
Here at Cardiff, we already have a community of Xerte users who have experience of building learning objects. Simon originally installed the open source software within the University around 4 years ago, and Jin has been the main person who has kept the server running and software up to date. We have Learning Technologists across the University who have been using Xerte for a while, creating a wide range of content such as Simon’s “Introduction to Podcasts” and Karl‘s “Biopsychosocial principles in pain management: Case studies”.
During the session, we had several show and tell demonstrations. These were a combination of initial or early developments with the tool, to full large scale projects, such as the new Information Security Framework module that Lindsey Nickolls has been developing. Lindsey explained the problems of adopting and adapting projects that already exist in the system, and her journey from a complete Xerte novice, to (near) completing the project, which was very interesting to hear.
Xerte has also been used in Cardiff with students in the classroom. Both Joe Nicholls and Catherine Emmett have taught Medical Education students to use Xerte, in order for students to create their own educational learning objects. Joe has also agreed to be the academic lead for Xerte for the University, and Catherine is now the lead contact, which is great news for the project.
What’s next for the project?
Following the session, we have plans to develop help and support around the creation of learning objects using Xerte. We will develop a series of resources and training events for beginners around:
• Evaluating needs, identifying ‘support’ points (and what types of training/support do we need to give at those support points);
• Awareness raising;
• Basics of instructional design in relation to online learning resources;
• Basics of developing online content.
We will aslo:
• Consider suitable support mechanisms;
• Consider page types and what they mean for different learning activities;
• Look at planning an ‘advanced’ Xerte hands on training session for Learning Technologists.
Finally… log in!
Xerte is currently available for all Cardiff staff here: https://xerte.cardiff.ac.uk/. Simply log in using your regular username and password.
To learn more, speak to one of the team by contacting: email@example.com.
As ever, don’t forget the team are here to help with your explorations in learning technologies. If you are working or planning to work on any learning technology projects within Cardiff University, we would love to hear from you, and find out about your experiences. If you are interested in this area, and would like some further information, please get in touch, and we can arrange a meeting with you. Email us via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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