Tutorial 2: PRODUCE OPEN CONTENT: author and modify learning material

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

About this tutorial

Icon objectives.jpg
This tutorial provides information and practical tasks in
  • creating and modifying open content in open process
  • formats that can be published as open content and tools, that support this process
  • standards and metadata

This tutorial invites teacher to produce and modify open educational content. For that, learners should have a general knowledge about creating learning materials (e.g. instructional designs, generating content). The tutorial will take about 60 minutes. For that, internet access is needed.


Hypatia of Alexandria

Nothing is perfect. Tom tries to find learning materials about Hypatia of Alexandria for his students and finds some informations and articles about her, e.g. an article and hyperlinks about Hypatia [http://womenshistory.about.com/od/hypati1/a/hypatia.htm from Jone Johnson Lewis, "Your Guide to Women's History"] (2006-11-13). But none of his findings, however interesting, are fitting well to his goals. He decides to create a tutorial for his students, use and re-mix some of his findings. An he wants to give these learning materials "open content" status. Tom feels he needs assistance to plan and fulfill this task. He needs help to choose the most appropriate software and online tools. Could you help him?

Then two others need some assistance: Lecturer Susan wants to publish her lecturer notes for her students and the scientific assistant Peter creates open content with a learning management system.

Existing contents, open formats, open creation process and tools for creating open content

Tom wants to create a tutorial about Hypatia of Alexandria, a very exciting woman who lectured on mathematics and philosophy around 400 AD.

Tom is well informed. He decides to create his tutorial as open content and use open standards to ensure that everybody can access and use his content. He is not that up-to-date about open standards.

He is also curious about the way, open content is often - not always or necessarily - collaboratively produced. A primary motivation behind the creation of open content is that it should be shared with others, learners and other content creators. For complex learning materials, which could be interesting to a lot of learners and/or teachers, collaboration can be useful and enhance the outcome of the project.

Perhaps Tom will find others who are interested in the creation of a tutorial about the popular Hellenized Egyptian philosopher? He thinks about his old astronomy teacher; perhaps he would like to collaborate? And than there was this interesting mailing list about famous women - perhaps some of the readers would join the collaborative creation of the tutorial? What should be considered? Are there any tools available?

Try to help him. Step by step :-)

Using existing content that can be published as ODEC

Tom is not allowed to mix up all texts, images and so he has already found! But sadly, only a few of his favourits content (for which he has used the tips of the Tutorial: SEARCH & FIND OER) are licensed under a license which allows copying and modification. Tom has to choose the same license as the author of his to-be-included-content when the copyright holder has chosen a share-alike license.

Without such a licence or a license, which does not allow copying and modifying, he is NOT allowed to include it in his new educational content.

  • He may ask the owner of the rights for an allowance.
  • He may use a short (!) citation (which are allowed for scientific uses).
  • He may hyperlink to that external source.

Mostly, the last of our recommendations would be the easiest way.

Using formats that can be published as ODEC

Than, Tom should get information about the open standard, he can use to create open content. In a tutorial, he needs text, illustrated with pictures, some hyperlinks...

Here some examples of open standards (Wikipedia, Open Format, 2006-10-12):

  • for images: PNG, SVG, OpenEXR
  • for audios: FLAC, Ogg Vorbis
  • for videos: Ogg Theora, XVID
  • for texts and documents: PDF (for documents), OpenDocument Format for Office Applications (for office documents and suites), LaTeX (a document markup language), TXT (an unformatted text format), HTML/XHTML (a markup language), XML (markup language)
  • and others: DVI (a page description language), SQL (Structured Query Language), 7z (data compression format)

Icon assess.gif


  • Find Formats with open standards in respect to the media object Tom could need to create a tutorial.
  • If you could not find a format in that list, please look at the article about Open Format in Wikipedia to be sure, that it is not an open standard format. You can also look for the suffix (eg. ".txt") in Wikpedia, you can find nearly all formats in Wikipedia.

Open creation process

While planning his tutorial, Tom find a nice website from a egypt teacher living in Alexandria. He has already collect learning materials about Theos, Hypatias father, and is very interested in a collaboration.

Tom considers about the chances and challenges for an open creation process and collaboration with others. There are a lot of theories about the origins of the mob violence that ended Hypatia's life, and some of them speculate about collaborations :-) But collaboration in an open creation process to create the tutorial should have some nice aspects, shouldn't it?

Icon assess.gif


After reading about this projects, Tom is fascinated by the results of such collaborations and in the same time a little bit confused about the problems can emerge.

Are their any principles, which allow a effective work? Dereck Keats reads a lot of reports about the principles of successful open software development, which could be important for collaborative development of open content, too. These are:

  • "effective communication is crucial
  • Version control is necessary
  • Form Collaborative virtual teams with a variety of skills and skill levels
  • Trust is a key element of success
  • Gatekeeper plays a vital role in quality management
  • Peer review is a powerful means of quality assurance
  • User feedback is essential
  • Development is a cyclical process" (Derick Keats, Collaborative development of open content)

At this stage, Tom seems to have enough information about social aspects of a collaboration. He wants to have some more information about technical aspects of creating open contents in collaboration.

Tools, that support this process

It would be a terrifying long checklist which application and technology use open standards! There are no rules, but you are on the "right side" if you are using open source software.

Applications and technologies that support the requirements of open standards are

  • Learning (Content) Management Systems
  • Social Software applications such as Wikis
  • HTML and SVG Editors
  • Authoring tools for graphics, video and audio
  • Sequencing and packaging standards like IMS content packaging and SCORM 1.3 for communication with LMS.
  • (online) office type processing and presentation tools (Examples are: Mircosoft LiveOffice, Google Docs and Google Calendar, Open Office online, )
  • Authoring systems, that allow content aggregation (e.g. learning objects to courses, modules to courses)

First, Tom gets nervous, and than he detects, that he has and use most of this software and applications. For example: He can use his text processing tool to create .html format.

Icon assess.gif


* Proof your tools in respect of the formats, it creates: Do they support open standards and produce data/products with open standard?

Try it out: Using a Wiki

Here we like you to invite, to use Wikis. This is one state of the art feature for creating open content. It is one of our favourits, because it is very easy to handle.

In this section, we introduce you to start and edit a own wiki "tutorial about Hypatia". If you are already familiar with the wiki-technology, you can overjump this section.

Write and modify an article

All Informations are organized in articles. (This tutorial is an article). First we show you, how you can write or edit or modify an article.

  • please open the Using a Wiki Testpage
  • click on the "edit" button
  • edit the article and
  • push the "save" button

Icon assess.gif


So modifying content is very easy. Just click on the "edit" button, edit the article and save the new version. In public wikis, everybody is allowed to view and - sometimes after a short registration - to edit articles. But there are also protected wikis, where everyone can view pages, but only space members can edit them. (The possibility of a private Wiki is not open content).

Linking and new articles

Linking to other pages is very easy, you just insert the URL (external links) or the titles of other articles, if they are written as CamelCase. A CamelCase is a word that uses capitalized words without spaces. Creating new pages is also easy.

Icon assess.gif


Try out to generate links and own articles.

  • please open the Using a Wiki Testpage
  • click on the "edit" button
  • edit the article and insert a WikiWord you like
  • push the "save" button
  • now click on your WikiWord - now it is a link to a new article
  • You find more information about linking in the article Quick start for the WikiEducator

More interesting features

You see, it is very easy to write in wikis. If you are using a browser like Mozilla, you can use the menu to chance the formats. Writing an text in simple, plain text format makes it easier to collaborate and to update single pieces than highly constructed flash animations or demonstration systems.

You can also include videos or images. It is possible to take a look on the history of every article, so everybody can follow the development and changes that are made. Beside the articles, you find a discussion page for each article. Some more reasons, that Wikis are very easy to use for collaboration.

Before starting an own project

If you were not familiar with using a wiki before that tutorial, we recommend to take part on the Wikipedia-project (or an other project) before starting a own. Using wikis is not just a technical affair ;-)

Icon assess.gif


  • Please open Wikipedia
  • Choose an article (word), for which you are an expert
  • Read it carefully, and modify the text, if necessarely

There are many ways, you can use a wiki in education. Wikis are very popular as a collaborations tool for learners, too. Many classroom projects are based on a wiki. Beside WikiEducator, some more repositories, like Opencourse, are using wikis.

Icon assess.gif


With the help of the following links, describe what Tom should consider, using a wiki for the creation of open content:

Start your own wiki

Now Tom is convinced, that he can manage such a project for creating open content. He is only wondering, where and how to start a wiki about his antique favourit.

If you like to install a wiki, you have to deal with complex programs like Ruby, PHP, MySQL, Apache. For non-geeks it's not very obvious how to set up or back up your wiki software. But if you like to start a own wiki, you may like the project 100,000 Wikis in the Classroom. Here you can start an own project if you are a K12-teacher (kindergarten through secondary school). You just have to fill out a formula with 8 fields and can begin. The wikis can be public, protected or just personal.

Icon assess.gif


There are other organisations that host Wikis for free. You find some more hosts, that offers free hosting of wikis in the article of the wikibook "Wiki Science" "How to start a Wiki"

Icon assess.gif


Beware! Don't count on the backups of these service and make own copies. Some of the hosts make it easy to download and move the wiki somewhere else, others not.

Try it out: Other ways to create open content

There are many ways to create open content and choosing a wiki is a very easy an clever way, but Wikis are not the best choice for every project. So we decided to show you some more examples for creating open content:

  • In a school project students should create their e-portfolios
  • Lecturer Susan wants to publish her existing lecturer notes for her students in open formats.

Using a collaborative tool for enhancement of student learning

In a school project the pupils should create their e-portfolios ...

[später ausführen]

Icon assess.gif


Converting content in open formats using

Lecturer Susan holds her lectures with about 80 students. Now, she wanted to publish her lecture notes, so that every student can download and print the content.

If Susan chooses a license which allows modifying her content, her students can publish other - perhaps commented or illustrated - versions.

  • For that, Susan open her lecture notes in her text processing software (e.g. Microsoft Word)
  • and save it as a html-Document.
  • After that, she changes some of the formats and fonts in html-standards.

Beneath considerations about existing tools and time and effort for install others (open source) tools, Susan should also consider now about her decisions about allowing modifications of her work. If she decides to, she should use a format that facilitates modification. That means, she should create .odt or .html files instead of .pdf files.

There are also webservices existing, which allows and support to convert files automatically. But beware, that by using such services, you could be a victim of hackers.

Icon assess.gif


After that, Susan wants to modify her presentation slides (now in an .ppt format of Microsoft Powerpoint) to an open format. Please give her a hint, which format she could choose by using her proprietary software and which other software and formats would fitting her ideas.

Remembering: Licensing, Metadata and ...

Regrettably, it is not enough for Tom, Susan an Peter (and for you, too) to take the right (open) format when creating open content. To faciliate the sharing of this new content by using suitable formats, licenses, educational metadata and marketing strategies. You will find more informations about that in our Tutorial 3: SHARE OPEN CONTENT: publish (license) and re-use web learning material.

Useful Material

and all the other informations and tutorial about Open Educational Content


After this tutorial, you should have tried it out, how you can use a wiki to create open content and know other ways for that. You also have an idea, which formats and standards have to be choosen or considered. And perhaps, you like to create your next learning materials together with others.

Additional Information

It could be, that the contents and links in this tutorial change, e.g. for technological changes. Please feel free to correct or modify the contents.