The Study Sussex at Sussex (S3) website for the University of Sussex was a very successful project we completed in 2009. This year to keep up with changes in the devices used by many students to interact with the Internet, we have worked with the team at Sussex to develop a mobile version of this website. Key aspects of this new mobile site are:
- The mobile version utilises the jQuery Mobile framework to provide the core aspects of the user interface with customised elements such as the menu bar and navigation menus added.
- A PHP script is used to identify the website viewer’s device and automatically direct them to the appropriate version of the site.
- The site content for both the normal and mobile sites is drawn from a bespoke content management system to allow content editing to be carried out in one place and immediately be displayed on both versions of the site.
- The mobile version of the site offers all the content and as rich an experience as the normal site rather than a limited version of the normal site.
- Site interactions (e.g. tabs, accordions, hide / reveal elements, quizzes etc) have been redeveloped to suit the inaccuracy of a touch screen and limited display sizes.
- Video is embedded in the site pages using YouTube to enable the site to deliver video on the maximum number of device types.
- Mobile site accessibility is enhanced through hide and reveal transcripts for videos and podcasts.
- Site search is provided by a Google custom search facility styled to match the design of the mobile site.
- Users can opt to view either the normal or mobile sites whatever device they are using.
Following requests we have added a facility to embed your Dragster 3 activities in blog posts and web pages using a similar method to that provided by YouTube. On your Dragster 3 activity publish page you will now find a Dragster 3 activity embed code displayed near the bottom of the page (see below). Select this code and copy to your clipboard (Ctrl C or right click and select Copy – see below).
Paste this code into the HTML of a blog post or the HTML of a web page to display your Dragster 3 activity.
Tips – You can amend the dimensions of the embedded activity by editing the values of the width and height attributes in the embed code. You will want to maintain the same ratio between width and height. So example dimensions for a landscape Dragster activity are 900 by 490, 600 by 327, 450 by 245.
You can disable the embed facility in the Dragster 3 activity settings.
Below is an example embedded Dragster 3 activity embedded with a width of 600 and a height of 327:
<iframe src="http://www.webducate.net/dragster3/publish/embed.php?c=Nt5HaqTiHPMI" width="600" height="327" frameborder="0"></iframe>
As background for a project researching the use of Twitter in the teaching of Physiotherapy students at the University of Nottingham, we wrote a literature review of published research on the use of this social communication platform in teaching and learning. We would like to thank Roger Kerry (@RogerKerry1) for funding this work and also letting us share this review here. Please feel free to mention any pieces of literature we have missed in the post comments… thanks!
Tweed project literature review
Tony & Rachael Lowe
24th May 2012
Launched in July 2006 Twitter is a microblogging service that allows its users to publish short text messages (Wikipedia 2012). Twitter has been staggeringly successful with the site now one of the ten most popular on the internet (Alexa 2012). The prompt presented to users has changed over time to reflect developments in the nature of the use of the service. Initially this prompt asked “What are you doing?” This became “What’s happening?” in November 2009. The twitter interface now prompts you to “Compose new tweet” in May 2012. This reflects the move from comments on personal activities to a very wide range of message types and usage behaviours (Dybwad 2009). The widespread use of twitter clients to author and monitor tweets means many users are not now exposed to twitter’s own website or prompts (Sysomos 2009).
The twitter experience curve
New Twitter users commonly describe an experience curve that travels from scepticism, trial participation, conversion (getting it), dramatically increasing usage and connections (Levine 2007, Stevens 2008, Seimens 2008, Shepherd 2009) through to potential overload (Sierra 2007). According to these authors and others (e.g. Clay 2008), the experience of “getting” twitter involves establishing a network, following these people developing a sense of who they really are and realising you can call on them for almost instantaneous help at any time. Cann (2009) goes as far as to suggest that Twitter is akin to a semantic web that directs people to relevant information more effectively than Google searches.
History of twitter use in education
Educators were quick to recognise the potential offered by the Twitter platform. Educause’s briefing on Twitter in 2007 identifies at an early point some of the potential benefits of using Twitter in an education setting (Educause 2007). Nancy White (White 2007) set up a wiki page for sharing various stories about twitter use which include several education applications. An early innovative application is highlighted by Carvin (2007) who describes a teacher setting a collaborative story writing task for his students using twitter, an approach he termed “twittories”.
By 2008 authors have identified Twitter as particularly appropriate for language learning (Dickens 2008) and a service offering language learning quizzes via Twitter had been established (TwitterLearn 2008). Educators in other disciplines are by 2008 documenting benefits and ideas for using Twitter (Parry 2008). Other authors continue to expand on the potential educational uses, identify drawbacks and offer tips (Grosseck & Holotescu 2008) and Alsac (2008) provides a presentation that illustrates typical educator and student uses of twitter with annotated screenshots from applications at a college.
In 2009 Twitter is being presented and discussed at elearning conferences with best uses and practices being identified (Wheeler 2009) and mainstream media widely reported on Monica Rankin’s Twitter Experiment (2009a & 2009b) in which Twitter is used to support the teaching of history.
2010 saw the launch of an on-line platform for running courses based almost entirely on tweets and status updates (Hootcourse 2010) and adoption and experimentation continues to grow. It’s not until 2011 and 2012 that more rigorous scientific studies are reported that seek to evaluate the impact that Twitter has on learning outcomes (Junco, Heiberger & Loken 2011 and Junco, Elavsky & Heiberger 2012) and to propose best practices based on quantitative evidence.
Characteristics of Twitter and how these relate to educational use
140 character limit – probably the key characteristic of Twitter is the limit on the length of each Tweet. Several authors have argued that rather than this being a drawback, this characteristic offers benefits for learning. Educause (2007) suggests this helps develop skills “in thinking clearly and communicating effectively”. Rankin (2009a & 2009b) notes that this forces students to focus on a central point. Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) argue that communicating in this style is a “professionally useful skill for students to develop”.
Dickens (2008) identifies how this limit is particularly useful for language learning and Jenkins (2009) showed how this limit can even be applied to philosophical arguments. However this aspect of Twitter, SMS messaging, Facebook updates has also been blamed by academics for contributing to declining english writing skills (Kelley 2010) although Parry (2008) argues the opposite is true and it can be used to develop these same skills.
Public and widely used – generally Tweets are published completely openly and so the nature of what could be written by students is sometimes a cause for concern. The contrasting experiences of Pound-Woods (2012) and Hepburn (2011) illustrate that inappropriate tweeting is not universally a problem. This is also educationally beneficial as noted by Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) who describe that the awareness of writing for an audience other than their tutors and peers “helped our students learn to be sensitive to their audience, and make professional decisions about what perspectives and ideas they should publicly contribute and what perspectives and ideas should remain private.” Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) also note that getting students to use twitter and connect with other twitter users within their domain encourages “enculturation into the professional community of practice”.
Almost instantaneous – Twitter unlike email and discussion forums is a communication tool that anticipates participation and response within very short time frames. Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) observed that students are aware of this and primarily used twitter for time-sensitive matters (e.g. raising issues, clarifying assignments, reporting emergencies).
Unstructured – unlike discussion forums and emails, Twitter streams do not have an imposed structure. It is up to users to embed agreed hashtags within their tweets or to direct replies to other users, if they want to associate their contributions with an ongoing activity or conversation. Costa, Benham, Reinhardt & Sillaots (2008) note that this lack of a structure is a serious problem for some students. Advanced twitter clients such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are utilised by some users to impose structure on complex Twitter streams and Honeycutt & Herring (2009) argue that these tools are important in using Twitter for conversation and collaboration.
Particularly suited to mobile participation – the relatively simple interface required to read and write Tweets means there are many tools available on mobile devices. This means users can participate in their Twitter stream from nearly any location and at any time.
Twitter in context with other social media
Twitter is one of a number of social media platforms available. Different platforms suit different sorts of interactions and appeal to different sections of society and expert users will seek to integrate their activity across a selection of these platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a personal blog). Hepburn (2011) describes a similar approach to integrating the use of a selection of social media platforms to support a course. Another example of integration is offered by Mollett, Moran & Dunleavy (2011) who suggest the use a widget to display tweets within their VLE.
Since the arrival of widely used social media platforms (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter etc) they have had a significant influence on educator and academic activity. For example, Mandavilli (2011) describes the impact social media is having on the academic peer review process which is now increasingly taking place in public once articles are published. In many cases these impacts are leading to problems. Freidberg (2010) highlights the issue of teachers’ confusion about appropriate ways to use social media and in separating their personal and professional lives on-line. Students, pupils and parents also have issues with appropriate use of social media with many examples of cyber bullying directed at teachers reported (NASUWT survey reported by Mulholland 2012).
The clear separation between personal and professional use of these platforms by educators (as observed by Young 2011) is not necessarily the most appropriate response. Studies have shown that college students who accessed the Facebook profile of a teacher with high self-disclosure anticipated higher levels of motivation and a more positive classroom climate (Mazer, Murphy & Simonds 2007). Studies by Weider (2011) and Johnson (2011) draw similar conclusions for open disclosure in educator Twitter use.
The personal ownership of accounts and profiles on social media platforms challenges the approach taken by traditional top-down education policies. Professor Gaunt-Palmer who identifies a problem of academics infantilising students states “one way in which tutors could improve the relationship with their students was to embrace the ideals of social media” through telling the truth and communicating with students as equals (Cunnane 2011).
There are significant issues and concerns about using these platforms to support teaching. Walker, Dziuban & Moskal (2012) report that studies “conclude that students compartmentalize their communication tools into social tools for social engagement and work tools for work time. Rarely do they cross boundaries, as student motivations are perceived differently with each communication tool.” This is likely to be more of an issue for using Facebook in teaching which is widely used for socialising, than twitter which is not currently widely used by healthcare students socially or otherwise (Giordano 2011).
There are those who see fundamental problems with using these tools to support teaching.
Friesen & Lowe (2012) argue that the philosophies embodied in the functionality provided by commercial social media platforms will only ever poorly support educational discourse because they actively discourage division and dissent. This issue may become more significant for Twitter as it seeks to develop a sustainable business model and as this is likely to involve changes to the functionality and behaviour of the platform (Barnett 2012).
Social Media Fatigue
Another negative theme developing around social media use is the concept of social media fatigue. Apart from the overwhelming volume of interactions and the related potential for distraction, overload or social media fatigue reflects a recognition that the sharing of information on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter does not create knowledge. Seimens (2011) states that “Social media is about flow, not substance”. Shepherd (2010) worries that “we’re all becoming very good at passing interesting information on from one to another, but not actually reading and reflecting on any of it.”
Clay (2009) identifies ten reasons why twitter will eventually fall from grace such as spam posts, fake followers and changes in on-line fashion. This may already be the case with Indvik (2012) reporting that the newer service of Pinterest is gaining ground on Twitter.
Examples of Twitter use in education
There are numerous documented examples of Twitter being used in education. In one of the highest profile examples, Rankin (2009a & 2009b) describes use of twitter to facilitate in class discussions for a large group of students. She highlights that Twitter had limitations when it came to discussions as it is “difficult for students to reply to each other, and the discussion stream tended to wander. By the time a comment was posted and students had a chance to respond to it, several other tweets had gone up and new ideas had been introduced”. This is an issue with Twitter also noted by Costa, Benham, Reinhardt & Sillaots (2008) who report some students “felt quite overwhelmed by its rather chaotic structure, as Twitter and Twemes do not allow threaded discussions and organisation of content into topical areas” and Shepherd (2010) who suggests that “Twitter seems to have very limited usefulness as a vehicle for discussion. Once a dialogue extends beyond a few tweets, there’s simply too much traffic”.
There are numerous guides and sets of tips available to help educators seeking to use Twitter in their teaching (e.g. Edudemic 2012). Not all of this advice is consistent. A selection are summarised below:
Hawks (2012) recommends that:
Use a separate Twitter account for each class,
Let students make the first move rather force participation,
Bring the feed into the classroom illustrate its significance
Mollett, Moran & Dunleavy (2011) provide an educators’ guide to Twitter that recommends use of separate class Twitter accounts, the adoption of a conversational style and providing positive feedback via Tweets. Hepburn (2011) report that tutor re-tweeting student Tweets is an effective form of positive feedback.
Wicks, Via & Rhode (2011a & 2011b) provide an on-line course and video on teaching with twitter. Tan (2012) paraphrases the teaching strategies offered by Wicks, Via & Rhode (2011a & b) to:
- Make Twitter use compulsory by grading it
- Do not assume students know how to tweet effectively (provide training and set expectations)
- Provide opportunities for meaningful tweeting, e.g., getting ideas or resources, connecting with classmates
- Do not use Twitter just to disseminate information in a teacher-centred way
- Allow Twitter use to stew: Give it time and monitor it
Tan (2012) goes on to argue against grading student twitter use “Twitter use can be enforced by holding a grade over students’ heads, but I doubt that the energy in such a use will ever get near that of personal learning networks that emerge naturally and over time.”
Young (2009) offers a review of using twitter as a live back channel during a conventional face-to-face teaching course identifying problems that occurred and appropriate strategies adopted by the educator. Related to this approach, Hengstler (2009) identifies the concept of a “twitter jockey” to manage the back channel for the educator and suggests this is a role that can be fulfilled by a student in the class.
There are numerous other documented examples of Twitter use in education. A selection are summarised below:
- KQED Do Now (2012) weekly activities designed to encourage students to explore current issues in media using twitter or blog comments in response to a topical questions e.g. “Should same-sex couples in the U.S. be allowed to marry? Why or why not?”
- Media students are encouraged to use twitter during lectures (Pound-Woods 2012) and examples of constructive and unconstructive use are observed.
- Tobin (2011) reports on a weekly scheduled twitter based meeting that provides a teacher-to-teacher peer support network.
Markham & Belkasim (2011) describe using Twitter for international collaboration as part of a course.
Stiege & Burger (2010) describe the use of Twitter as a platform for ongoing course evaluation.
Twitter in healthcare education
Healthcare related schools and educators were early adopters of Twitter (Hewett 2009 lists 9 medical schools with twitter accounts). However, a survey in 2011 (Giordano 2011) surveyed social media use amongst health professional students (including physiotherapy) in the US and found that while Facebook was widely used while “very few were using Twitter”.
Terry (2009) and Bauman (2009) propose many potential uses of Twitter in healthcare. One innovative example being practiced is using twitter to encourage healthier lifestyles in young people (Young 2010).
Anne Marie Cunningham (Cunningham 2012) is very active in reviewing and thinking about the growing use of social media platforms within healthcare. She (Cunningham 2010a) encourages the use of all social media to communicate health information to the public but warns against using these platforms for direct communication between health professionals and their clients. An example of her work to promote the use of Twitter as a tool for CPD is a screenshare tutorial illustrating using twitter to get answers from your network (Cunningham 2010b).
Two example ongoing Twitter based healthcare education projects are:
- Gasclass (2012) which provides a blog and twitter stream which posts weekly anaethesia scenarios and resources for discussion via twitter hash tag.
- Twitter Journal Club (2012) meets fortnightly to critique medical papers.
Twitter and social media related research
There is a relatively small amount of published research that considers the use of Twitter in education. The majority of this research offers limited quantitative evidence of the impact on outcomes, focusing instead on qualitative analysis of tweet content and the responses to the experience by participants gathered in surveys. Below are a selection of studies summarised in chronological order:
Costa, Benham, Reinhardt & Sillaots (2008) describe how twitter was used to support a summer school. The analysis of tweet content utilised a Wordle word cloud (http://www.wordle.net/) to identify themes. The authors describe how voluntary participation grew virally through a desire “to be where the action is”.
Ebner & Schiefner (2008) report on a survey of users experiences following the use of micro-blogging to support their research subject.
Cann, Badge, Johnson & Moseley (2009) describe a project where iPod touch devices were distributed to students studying biological sciences and were required to tweet as part of their studies. The impact was measured using a survey and an analysis of the networks formed and tweets sent. It is reported that students formed informal peer-support networks using the twitter platform.
Dunlap & Lowenthal (2009) offer a limited review of twitter in education and present 5 guidelines for use:
- Establish Relevance for Students
- Define Clear Expectations for Participation
- Model Effective Twitter Use
- Build Twitter-derived Results into Assessment
- Continue to Actively Participate in Twitter
Borau, Ullrich, Feng & Shen (2009) study the use of twitter in language teaching. They analysed student tweets for patterns and development in language use and used a questionnaire to investigate usage behaviours and its impact on students’ perceptions of their ability to communicate.
Ebner, Lienhardt, Rohs & Meyer (2010) analyse the use of twitter over a period of 70 days of a course within a programme on supply chain management. Based on the levels of use observed the authors argue that “it is highly probable that learning took place” and this learning is process oriented and informal.
A study of discussion forum use reviewed by Dixon (2012) offers parallel implications for moderating Twitter use for learning:
model conversation and collaboration in twitter stream rather than just make a series of statements
try to draw in all participants
Probably the most rigorous research studies into the effectiveness of Twitter in higher education and best practices in its use are by Junco, Heiberger & Loken (2011) and Junco, Elavsky & Heiberger (2012).
Junco, Heiberger & Loken (2011) compared engagement and grades for groups of students that did and did not use Twitter. A positive impact was identified through analysis of variance using ANOVA models and content analyses of samples of Twitter exchanges were used to investigate how Twitter use may have had this impact.
Junco, Elavsky & Heiberger (2012) compared required twitter use with voluntary use and concluded that for improved engagement and grades twitter must be used in an appropriate way:
- Professors must participate
- Twitter use must be structured – “Twitter should be integrated into the course in educationally relevant ways… …having a theoretical reason to use Twitter and implementing that reason into the course pedagogy will maximize the beneﬁts achieved.”
- Twitter use must be required
Both research and anecdotal evidence appears to suggest that appropriate use of Twitter offers significant potential for improving education outcomes. There are many different ways Twitter can be used within teaching and its is not clear at this stage if any one approach is better than others. Junco, Elavsky & Heiberger (2012) offer the only guidance in this area supported by empirical evidence, however the requirement that Twitter use is compulsory appears to conflict with the opinion and anecdotal evidence offered by some other educators.
Based on our own reflections and experiences, there appear to be two aims to be considered in the development of a protocol for use of Twitter in physiotherapy education:
- Maximising the positive outcomes for the module/course being studied.
- Encouraging appropriate practices in using Twitter to support the students’ development and management of a personal long term professional support network.
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Alsac, B., 2008, “Twitter And Other Mobile Izing Tools For Teaching And Learning”, Slideshare, 11 May, http://www.slideshare.net/befitt/twitter-and-other-mobile-izing-tools-for-teaching-and-learning (accessed 22/05/2012)
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Borau, K., Ullrich, C., Feng, J. & Shen, R., 2009, “Microblogging for Language Learning: Using Twitter to Train Communicative and Cultural Competence”, ICWL 2009, LNCS 5686, pp. 78–87, http://www.carstenullrich.net/pubs/Borau09Microblogging.pdf (accessed 23/05/2012)
Cann, A., 2009, “Twitter Drives Traffic to Blogs and Social Networks”, Son of SoTI, 12 March, http://ajcann.posterous.com/twitter-drives-traffic-to-blog (accessed 23/05/2012)
Cann, A., Badge, J., Johnson, S. & Moseley, A., 2009, “Twittering the student experience”, ALT Online Newsletter, Issue 17, 19 October, http://archive.alt.ac.uk/newsletter.alt.ac.uk/newsletter.alt.ac.uk/l7qtuceyiq3.html (accessed 23/05/2012)
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Ebner, M., Lienhardt, C., Rohs, M. & Meyer, I., 2010, “Microblogs in Higher Education – A chance to facilitate informal and process-oriented learning?”, Computers & Education, 55, 92–100, http://www.cblt.soton.ac.uk/multimedia/PDFs10/micriblogs%20in%20higher%20education%20process%20orientated%20learning.pdf (accessed 23/05/2012)
Educause, 2007, “7 things you should know about Twitter”, July, http://www.educause.edu/ELI/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutTwitt/161801 (accessed 17/05/2012)
Edudemic, 2012, “100 Ways To Use Twitter In Education, By Degree Of Difficulty”, http://edudemic.com/2012/04/100-ways-to-use-twitter-in-education-by-degree-of-difficulty/ (accessed 21/05/2012)
Freidberg, J., 2010, “Don’t tell teachers how to act on Facebook, says union”, Mortarboard Blog, the Guardian, 13 September, http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2010/sep/13/teachers-know-what-to-do-on-facebook (accessed 22/05/2012)
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Dragster 3 offers a great way to add drag and drop activities to e-learning resources created with Adobe Captivate. The process of embedding a Dragster 3 activity in Captivate involves a number of steps described below:
- Publish your Dragster 3 activity using the Embed activity publish option and extract the zipped files (more details on the Embed activity publish option).
- Create a new blank Captivate project. In this case I am choosing to use a project size that will fit a Dragster 3 landscape activity (1024 x 576).
- Select the Captivate slide where you wish to add the Dragster activity. Use the Insert > Animation menu option.
- Browse to and select the published Dragster 3 activity SWF file.
- You may see a warning at this point about the version of actionscript. I have found that this warning can be ignored, so click Yes.
- The outline of the Dragster activity will now appear on the slide. You will need to change two Captivate properties for this inserted activity in the right hand properties panel. Make sure the activity is selected on the slide, then expand the Timing box in the properties panel. Edit the display for a specific time and allocate the appropriate number of seconds.
- Now expand the Transition box and select No transition. You have now finished inserting the Dragster activity.
- Save your Captivate project. Once you have completed the other aspects of your resource, you are now ready to publish the project.
- Select the menu option File > Publish to display the Publish dialog. You can leave most of the publish settings in their default values, apart from one preference. Click the Preferences… button to reveal the preferences dialog.
- On the preferences dialog on the Project > Publish settings page, Externalize resources list check the Animations option and click OK.
- Now publish the Captivate project. Once complete select No to Do you wish to view the output. There is one more step for you to complete before you can test your resource.
- Open your published Captivate project files folder and the published Dragster activity files folder. Copy the SWF file and folder from the published Dragster activity into the published Captivate project files folder. Select Yes to replace the dragster SWF file already in this folder.
- Now you can test your Captivate resource by opening the appropriate HTM file with your browser. An example Captivate resource created by following these steps is shown below (View this example Captivate).
In March 2010 a new publish option was provided for Dragster 3 activities called the Embed activity option. The format of the activity files published via this option have been specifically designed to facilitate the integration of the published Dragster 3 activity into e-learning resources created with other common authoring software. The steps by which an embed activity can be integrated into an Articulate Presenter presentation have been described in a previous blog post. This post will review how this publish option can be used to quickly and easily add Dragster 3 activities to resources created using other authoring software such as Wimba Create, Exe and CourseLab.
To publish a Dragster 3 activity using the Embed activity option click on the Embed activity link on the publish dragster activity page as shown below:
Extract the downloaded zip file to view the files making up an activity published in this format. These consist of a SWF file and a folder containing all other related activity files that have the same name (see below). These file and folder names are important and should not be changed.
In general terms the steps involved in adding a Dragster 3 activity published in this format to your e-learning resource or course are:
- To embed the activity into your e-learning resource you should use the normal options available for inserting a flash movie according to the software involved (see below for specific details).
- If you have multiple Dragster activities, insert each related activity SWF file at the appropriate point in the resource.
- Publish the resource.
- Copy all the embedded Dragster activity folders into the published resource files (usually at the root level).
- View the resource.
Wimba Create (Coursegenie)
- At the appropriate point in your MS Word document select the Interaction > Media options in the Wimba Create menu.
- In the related pop-up:
- select the Flash option
- for File browse to the published Dragster 3 activity SWF file
- define the Display as Width 600 and Height 660 for portrait activities Width 900 and Height 490 for landscape activities.
- Check the Autostart option (leave the Loop option unchecked).
- the accessibility tab allows the entry of a long textual description of the activity and for the addition of a link to download a flash player.
- click OK to embed the activity.
- Repeat the previous steps to insert other activity files at appropriate points.
- Publish the course files using the Generate Course menu option.
- Copy all the Dragster activity SWF files into the Wimba Create published media folder.
- Copy all the published Dragster activity folders into the root folder of the published Wimba Create course.
- View the Wimba Create course by opening its index.html file in your browser.
eXe – e-learing XHTML editor
- Open the eXe editor and at the appropriate point in your content, select the Flash with text iDevice.
- Using the Select Flash Object button browse to your unzipped dragster activity folder and select the SWF file.
- You will need to size the activity appropriately in the eXe iDevice using the dimensions below :Dragster 3 – Portrait 600 by 660 – Landscape 900 by 490
Dragster 2 – 700 by 560
Tip – you can scale the embedded activity by using smaller dimensions while keeping the height and width in the same proportions (e.g. Dragster 3 Landscape at a scale of 80% – 720 by 392).
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 to insert multiple Dragster activities.
- Export your finished eXe resource (e.g. File > Export > Web site > Self-contained folder).
- Copy all the published Dragster activity folders into the same folder as the other eXe exported files (if eXe exported a zip file, you will need to extract this zip file before copying these files).
- To view the finished eXe resource open the index.html file within the eXe exported folder.
- On the appropriate CourseLab slide use the menus to select Insert > Object and expand the Media section and drag a Flash object on to the slide.
- Resize this flash object to make it as large as possible.
- Right click on the Flash object and select properties.
- For the file option, select the SWF file for your published Dragster activity.
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 to add multiple Dragster activities to your CourseLab course.
- Publish your completed Courselab course on to your PC and extract the published zip file.
- Copy the published Dragster activity folders into the folder called 1 (you should see a file called start.html within this folder). Now test the course by opening start.html inside the folder called 1.
- Re-zip the course for upload in your VLE.
Until recently the only way to embed a Dragster 3 activity in an Articulate presentation was to use the Web Object option. This approach suffers from a couple of drawbacks in that Articulate player elements (e.g. pop-up windows for notes and attachments) would disappear behind the Dragster activity and also the authoring process wasn’t straight forward as you would have to publish the dragster activity on-line and independently of the articulate presentation. With recent updates to Dragster 3 you can now use the Flash Movie option to embed a Dragster activity which avoid these drawbacks.
The steps involved in embedding a Dragster 3 activity are:
- Author your Dragster 3 activity in the usual way (Tip – use the landscape layout option as this fits best into an articulate
- Publish your Dragster 3 activity using the Embed activity zip download option
- Unzip the downloaded activity files. You will see they consist of a single flash SWF file with a name like dragndrop1023.swf and a similarly named folder which contains the rest of the activity related files.
- In Powerpoint click the Articulate, Insert Flash Movie button. Browse to the SWF file for your published Dragster activity and click Open.
- In the Flash Movie settings change the Advance to the next slide option to When user clicks next and Synchronisation option to Movie displays independently of slide. Click OK to finish inserting the Flash movie.
- The embedded Dragster activity will be displayed as a blank rectangle which will extend beyond the edges of the powerpoint
slide. Resize this activity by dragging the handles at the sides and corners of this rectangle for a more appropriate fit (Tip – hold down the shift key when resizing to maintain the aspect ratio of the activity). NB – if you set this slide’s articulate Slide properties to Change view to the No sidebar display option you don’t have to resize the embedded Dragster activity!
- Repeat the activity and publishing process described above for each activity you wish to add to the Articulate presentation.
- Publish the completed Articulate presentation.
- Copy the folders of the dragster activity related files into the root folder of the published Articulate presentation.
- Finally view your Articulate presentation (example presentation).
Hopefully this new approach will make it even easier to create rich interactive resources using Articulate and Dragster 3!
Use the Dragster 3 transparent skin option to seamlessly blend your activity into the articulate presentation.
In the previous blog post instructions were provided on how to create dragster activities that used a youtube video as the dropzone. In this post a similar set of instructions and files are provided that demonstrate how to create a video based Dragster 3 drag and drop activity where you have the original video file available and can convert it into an FLV file.
Below is an example activity created using the approach described here:
1. Create your video file
A useful overview of creating digital video is provided by mediacollege.com
To make the most of the dropzone area of a dragster 3 activity you
should try to encode your video with dimensions of 600 by 450 pixels.
Other video sizes will work but these will be resized
within the activity dropzone. The activity will take place on the paused last frame of the video and so it should be edited with this in mind.
2. Publish/Convert your video file into FLV format
In order to display a video within a Dragster 3 activity it needs to be encoded in the flash compatible FLV video format. There are a variety of tools available for publishing into FLV format or converting from alternative formats (e.g. Adobe Flash, On2 Flix, Sorenson Squeeze, Riva FLV encoder).
Save this video file as video.flv
3. Download the FLV video dragster files
I have provided a set of 4 files to aid your creation of these video Dragster 3 activities.
You will need to save these on to your PC and extract them (left click on the downloaded zip file and select Extract all…)
Now copy the video file (video.flv) into this extracted folder overwriting the example video file with the same name already in this folder.
4. Create a dropzone image of the paused video
Within this downloaded folder is a file called video.html Open this file in your web browser to view your video as it will be displayed within the Dragster activity. Play the video until it reaches the end frame and pauses. At this point you need to create a jpg image file to use as the dropzone image in your activity authoring.
As mentioned in the previous post, I have used two alternative methods to do this:
1. use screen capture software such as TechSmith SnagIt
2. press the PrtScrn button on your keyboard then open image editing software such as Photoshop or Fireworks and use Paste to place a copy of your entire screen into the working area. Then crop this image.
Ultimately you need to create a jpg image which is 600 by 450 pixels in size which just includes the flash file displaying your video. This means the edges of this image should be where the green background meets the edges of the video. Save this image as video.jpg
5. Author and publish the Dragster 3 activity
You should now login to your myWebducate account and author the activity in the usual way using the jpg image created in step 4 as the dropzone. When you are happy with this activity publish it and extract the published files in the usual way.
6. Copy the video related files into the activity folder
Copy your video files into the extracted activity folder (i.e. copy the files: video.flv, video.swf, SteelOverNoVol.swf, video.html into the activity folder).
7. Edit the Dragster 3 activity dragndrop.xml file
Nearly done now… Open the published activity dragndrop.xml file in a text editor such as Notepad and edit the line <target targetImage=”video.jpg“
/> replacing video.jpg with video.swf. Save the amended dragndrop.xml file.
8. Test the activity
You can now test this activity by opening the index.html file within the activity folder with your web browser.
Have fun using these two approaches to embed video in your activities. If/when you develop an activity you are proud of and are happy to share please do let me know!