eXe, The eLearning XHTML editor

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eXe Authoring project



http://eXeLearning.org


Introduction

What is eXe?

The eLearning XHTML editor (eXe) is an authoring environment to assist teachers and academics in the design, development and publishing of web-based learning and teaching materials without the need to become proficient in HTML or complicated web-publishing applications.

eXe Authoring window showing a "Reading Activity" iDevice for the Wikipedia article on e-learning

The Web is a revolutionary educational tool because it presents teachers and learners with a technology that simultaneously provides something to talk about (content) and the means to hold the conversation (interaction). Unfortunately, the power of this hypertext medium is constrained in educational settings because the vast majority of teachers and academics do not have the technical skills to build their own web pages, and must therefore rely on the availability of web developers to generate professional looking online content. eXe has been developed to overcome a number of identified limitations:

  • Much web-authoring software entails a fairly steep learning curve, is not intuitive or designed for publishing learning content. Consequently teachers and academics have not adopted these technologies for publishing online learning content. eXe aims to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use tool that will enable teachers to publish professional looking web pages for learning;
  • Currently, learning management systems do not offer sophisticated authoring tools for web content (when compared to the capabilities of web-authoring software or the skills of an experienced web developer). eXe is a tool that provides professional web-publishing capabilities that can be easily referenced or imported by learning management systems;
  • Most content management and learning management systems utilize a centralized web server model thus requiring connectivity for authoring. This is limiting for authors with low bandwidth connectivity or no connectivity at all. eXe has been developed as an offline authoring tool without the requirement for connectivity.
  • Many content management and learning management systems do not provide an intuitive WYSIWYG environment where authors can see what their content will look like in a browser when published, especially when working offline. eXe's WYSIWYG functionality enables users to see what the content will look like when published online.

Why use eXe over web-publishing applications like Frontpage or Dreamweaver?

Applications like Frontpage and Dreamweaver can offer users a fairly sophisticated tool for web design, however the learning curve to become proficient in these applications can often be steep and time consuming. With eXe we have tried to identify many of the elements which make up learning resources and present these in forms that are technically simple and easy to use. In the eXe environment, these forms are known as iDevices (Instructional Devices). By building a learning sequence that includes a content structure and a number of iDevices users can begin to develop their own templates for content creation and reuse. eXe also provides assistance for authors in the form of 'Pedagogical Tips' around the inclusion of iDevices; these tips can help authors make informed decisions around when and how to use iDevices for teaching. Tips are also provided near each iDevice's form fields to assist authors in generating appropriate content.

With eXe, users can develop a learning structure that suits their content delivery needs and build a resource that is flexible and easily updated. A rich text editor is available with the input fields in the iDevices providing basic formatting and editing functionality.




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