Monday, April 7, 2008

Creating a collaborative course development process

Creating a collaborative course development process. While good tools can help, it is fundamental to have a process that properly assigns the various tasks in the collaborative process to the individuals involved. "Good separation of the tasks into those done by subject-matter experts (who should ultimately be responsible for assembly and maintenance of the courses), graphics experts (who are currently responsible for the assembly and maintenance), quality assurance, and other roles will improve the process dramatically."

As for tools, there are two basic types available, including "server-based" tools and "desktop-based" tools.

Server-based development tools, he says, include learning content management systems (LCMSs) and wikis. Yet, while such tools are quite seductive, strong and firm processes need to be put into place in order for them to work successfully, warns Moser.

"If everyone is using a browser-based authoring tool to modify the same collection of course content, there is a high risk of concurrent development resulting in disjointed courses. These tools also suffer when changes are desired to large graphics/multimedia files because they require re-upload of the entire file before any preview can be done."

A desktop approach, on the other hand, is similar to the way in which people typically create and manage complex Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint documents. Each contributor is given an assignment by the project lead, and these assignments vary from several chapters of text and/or development of specific multimedia to creation of specific graphics and/or designing a course navigation look and feel. Each contributor then uses the specialized tools for his or her tasks (e.g., Microsoft Word for text development; Flash, Camtasia or ViewletBuilder for simulations; and Photoshop, Illustrator or PaintShopPro for graphics). Finally, a desktop-based e-learning or Web-content authoring tool is used to assemble the content.

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