Monday, June 25, 2007

Review eXe authoring tool

I already posted about the eXe authoring tool for creating WBTs. The last 6 weeks I developed 6 WBT's with the tool. This review is about version 0.24, on both the Mac and the PC. This week version 0.95 was released.



Ease of use

The tree structure on one hand side and the edit pane on the other one makes it a clear and clean environment. eXe opens in FireFox. If you have a basic understanding of Windows or Mac OS it will be easy to start with eXe. A basic knowledge of HTML comes in easy because although it is a kind of WYSYWIG editor sometimes you need some code to clean things up or to correct some flaws. For the rest it is not hard to work with eXe. It speaks for itself and it is consistent. Creating a structure is the same as creating folders, three levels can be used. Moving pieces of the content to other places is very easy. That is sufficient for most content. There is a help function but that is quite limited. If you need to know more you can visit fora. Adding metadata and exporting the content into SCORM packages or other packages.

Functionalities
With eXe you can create attractive WBTs. You can easily add different and attractive learning interactions. You can add some question types, some reflection activities, images, add RSS, you can integrate web pages, MP3 and also video. And many more. Video has to be in an flv format. In the version I used (0.24) it was kind of a hassle. And for my Mac it was not available. Still the Windows version has the most functionalities but with the 0.95 version, the difference is not that big anymore. The so-called iDevices do the things they are promising. Sometimes they can be improved, e.g. the one where you can show a row of images. First of all you have to select and upload them one for one, but if you open them in the WBT you need to click twice to enlarge them. Some learners even didn't find the second click.

I also miss some basic functionalities. I missed simple things like anchors. It would have been nice to be able to create anchors (e.g. you sum up some subjects in a list and you want to jump to a certain point on the page of you click on subject 1, 2, etc.). This can be done now but you have to use HTML. I also missed hotspots.

But hey, with some smart things you can do a lot. You can copy code from different places. I embedded code from YouTube, Zoho polls and Blip.tv. I also tried to use HotPotatoes but that didn't work.

Technical performance
During the hundreds of hours I worked with it, I only had one crash. The first weeks I made a stupid (?) mistake by closing the FireFox browser when I wanted to close eXe. That causes a crash. You have to close the application by using the menu.

I was using a standard standardwhite style. That worked fine. Only a few flaws where some white space was added between the iDevices. I still don't know what happened and I couldn't correct it because in the source code I couldn't see.

Version 0.95
In this mayor update the possibilities seems to be significant improved. The simple thing I like the most is the possibility to embed images within text fields (wish I had that a few weeks earlier). Also the video and SCORM-quiz possibilities are available for the Mac OSX version. New is also the JAVA-applet iDevice.

Conclusions
A nice and easy to use application to create your own WBTs. It doesn't has the possibilities (yet) as some of the commercial applications like Lectora or AuthorWare but if gives you the opportunity to develop interesting e-Learning modules in a fast way. Especially if you are new to e-Learning development I would like to advice you to start with eXe. And if you are an experienced instructional designer: keep an eye on this project because during the 6 weeks I was using it, 2 updates were introduced. eXe is becoming a mature tool.

3 comments:

ICTwereld said...

With the new release 1.03 of eXe, it's possible to use anchors now.

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