Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

MEAT: An Authoring Tool for Generating Adaptable Learning Resources

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

MEAT: An Authoring Tool for Generating Adaptable Learning Resources

Article excerpt


Owing to the proliferation of e-learning, the content production becomes a great deal, which aims at satisfying the learning demands of distance learners. In addition, with advances of mobile technology, the learning demands may also come from mobile devices, and that increases the complexity and difficulty of the content production. To deal with the diversified demands, an authoring tool is needed by content creators to produce adaptable learning resources. To fulfill the imperious demand, an authoring tool named Mobile E-learning Authoring Tool (MEAT) was conceived in this work; for it contains adaptable content and test item generation abilities, user-friendly learning design functions, and intuitional GUIs. Except for advantages hereinbefore, the produced contents of MEAT are Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) conformable learning objects, which have high interoperability and reusability, and a Learning Map Design Tool has also been provided by MEAT to assist teachers with systematically organizing of their course structures in the SCORM Sequencing and Navigation (SN) form (ADL, 2006).

In 2005, Simon et al. summarized three authoring types of adaptable content generation approach, which are introduced in following (Simon et al., 2005).

* Multiple Authoring: The Multiple Authoring generates multiple versions of content to fit each specific electronic device used by learners to access course content. Contents which are generated by the Multiple Authoring approach have better exchangeability among learning platforms as well as higher management costs.

* Single Authoring: The Single Authoring provides a single source code implementation of the user interface that is valid for all devices. In addition, it is a feasible way to generate adaptable learning content, but its functionalities and design usually depend on the supported markup language interpretation.

* Flexible Authoring: The Flexible Authoring freely combines the Multiple Authoring and the Single Authoring technologies to produce adaptable learning materials. With the Flexible Authoring, content creators can create truly adaptable content by taking into account a wide variety of different factors and circumstances.

In this work, authors have implemented the Flexible Authoring approach in the MEAT, including the Multiple Authoring approach in the content authoring functionalities and the test item generation functionalities handled through the use of the Single Authoring. Based on such an implementation, the content creators can design fully interoperable custom creations without markup language restrictions. Since the format of test items is fixed, the Single Authoring method is used for test item generation functionalities, allowing items to be easily reorganized and reducing maintenance costs. The contents and test items produced by MEAT are the adaptable learning materials, which can be learned by learners with any device at anytime and anywhere, and that is why the MEAT could contribute to m-learning field.

In this study, authors intend to share the experience of the MEAT development, which consists of technical aspect issues and encountered problems of engagement. An extensive comparison with other authoring tools and the academic evaluations were also conducted in this article to reveal the usability of the MEAT. Based on our findings, we have summarized a series of authoring tool design guideline, and we hope these valuable experiences can help other developers in mobile learning area.

Mobile E-learning Authoring Tool

There are three major roles that must play in the authoring environment to produce the learning content. These are learning designer, programmer, and artist. In the authoring environment, the learning designer bases on the goal of instruction to select a proper way to design the learning scenario and content, and the productions of this phase of development are usually limited to descriptive text. …

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