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General Chat Thread, Knocking up Teaching Resources in house in General; Hi All We are considering hiring someone in school to create teaching and learning resources rather then forking out huge ...
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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Knocking up Teaching Resources in house

    Hi All

    We are considering hiring someone in school to create teaching and learning resources rather then forking out huge amounts of money to the software developers.

    This will be either a student from university on a one year placement or a full time appointment.

    What will happen hopefully is that a teacher will provide a paper based resource or text book for this person to design an "e" resource to put into the school VLE.

    We will probably be looking at a flash programmer or something similar to do the job - a media student from university is maybe suitable.

    An ex teacher has also been muted as they will ideally need to have some sort of teaching background as to what resources work and what doesn't in a lesson.

    What we don't want however is for every resource to look the same but a standard customised look for the school may be something we wish to achieve.

    I doubt that this job will be full time so extra help for the ICT Support team will also be beneficial.

    Are they any other schools out there that are either doing this now or considering something similar? I'd be interested to hear if it works and what if any pitfalls you have come across.

    Thanks

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    A fantastic idea. I hope you will be considering releasing the resources under a non-restrictive license in SCORM format so that other schools can benefit from your efforts.

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    beeswax's Avatar
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    I've seen a few schools going down this route, and I recently spoke to the head of a school who was seriously considering hiring someone on a full time basis to coordinate the website, VLE and the way the school presents its face to the public. You really can't expect teachers to do this (properly) as well as their own job. What I feel you need is someone who can bring together all the parties involved, listen to what they want, understand how this fits into the overall curriculum, research new trends and software, then create something from all this input which will do the job. Unless you get a genius, I don't think this is a part time job either.
    This is a management position, and I'd start them on about £23K

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    Quote Originally Posted by beeswax View Post
    I've seen a few schools going down this route, and I recently spoke to the head of a school who was seriously considering hiring someone on a full time basis to coordinate the website, VLE and the way the school presents its face to the public. You really can't expect teachers to do this (properly) as well as their own job. What I feel you need is someone who can bring together all the parties involved, listen to what they want, understand how this fits into the overall curriculum, research new trends and software, then create something from all this input which will do the job. Unless you get a genius, I don't think this is a part time job either.
    This is a management position, and I'd start them on about £23K
    i agree with beeswax here, what you need is a project manager or even a relationship manager with educational knowledge to pull all this together. if you can get an ex coder who has gone into PM or RM roles even better. then he/she can code it when they've done the leg work.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylv3r View Post
    We are considering hiring someone in school to create teaching and learning resources rather then forking out huge amounts of money to the software developers.
    I've been thinking about doing similar work to this myself, as a commercial venture. I'd be very interested in collaborating with you on such a project. I aim to create a set of reusable Flash-based "widgets" that teachers own images, sounds, etc can easily be plugged into. I figure these will need some kind of framework application around them to allow teaching staff (or dedicated resource-preparation staff) to easily set each widget up. Flash widgets should be usable in web pages, SCORM packages, IWB files or PowerPoint/Presenter/etc files (no need to stick to Flash, Java/Javascript is good too).

    The complex/fiddly bit comes when you start to consider things like access to external repositories and output to VLE systems. As pointed out, output in SCORM format would be good. Work with repositories is tricky as no-one yet seems to be able to decide upon a standard simple workable interface.

    I'd hope to release a nice widget-creator application of some kind as open-source (so lots of people contribute widgets for it), then use that to create ready-made widgets for sale. I plan to use Ode (see www.odeworld.co.uk) as a selling marketplace. Ode is decidedly at the start-up stage at the moment, but looks like an excellent idea.

    This will be either a student from university on a one year placement or a full time appointment.
    If you're hiring a student or similar, expect them to take a little while to get up to speed. There's no good reason why a reasonably bright person can't pick up Flash programming quickly enough, but you might have to wait a month or so until they get their head around what they're doing. Note that programmers don't necessarily automatically come with animating/drawing/photography ability built-in (I sure don't!). Also note that a "media student" probably won't have done any actual programming with Flash, just animation and drawing.

    Advice for hiring computer programming staff in general: Don't stint on the equipment - get them a workstation with a nice big screen, fast enough to run Flash properly, with a decent harddrive. Give them their own desk space in the quietest area you can find them. Get them to use a source code control system (one of the advantages of doing an open source project - you get managed source code control for free).

    You might want to consider video as well. YouTube and similar features Flash video, it makes for some modern, engaging material. You used to have to pay extra for a copy of Flash with a video encoder included, I'm not sure about the latest version.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Many Thanks for all your comments.

    @dhicks: some good information to digest, thanks very much for this - very useful.

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    beeswax's Avatar
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    has anyone had a play with this tool?

    *EDIT* It's free, by the way.

  8. Thanks to beeswax from:

    Desdemona (19th July 2009)

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beeswax View Post
    has anyone had a play with this tool?

    *EDIT* It's free, by the way.
    Looks promising. Not something I can still see our teachers using but it may be useful in the future.

    Thanks

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    @dhicks but I guess everyone else too!

    Hey all,

    This is Chris, one of the co-founders of ode as mentioned by David. I thought it might be cool to pop into the thread and thank David for his comments. I have been a long time lurker at Edugeek and even use one of your forum quotes in our philosophy page (honestly, we really do, look here: http://www.odeworld.co.uk/our_philosophy.html ).

    We want to create a very open web platform that allows anyone (from huge corporations to individual teachers or technicians) to sell digital content into a global education market at a micropayment level. I guess the closest comparison would be itunes or Amazon, but for educators. We're funded/incubated by Pearson but fiercely protect our independence, for the right reasons I hope.

    The team follows the User story/Agile development method and codes in .NET and C#/SQL 2005 and we're developing an API so that ode could be plugged into any webservice (we're producing a Moodle plug in for example as we love Moodle and all downloadable content will be SCORM compliant) so that teachers can source little bits of content from a huge range of suppliers from lots of different places.

    I know you'll probably have lots of questions/criticisms/praise about this model and if you have any thoughts I'm happy to answer them and share them with the team, in this thread or by email/on the blog.

    We understand we can't compete against free resources but we believe there is still a model for commercial content liberated from it's constraints and usable at the classroom/individual student level. Plus we've got loads of content suppliers/brands on board already, some you'll have heard of and some you won't, but that's half the fun of the long tail, right?

    Also if any of you want to come on board for the beta at some point in 2008 you are very welcome. We want to hear from you guys too.

    Also it may interest you to know that I used to be the ICT Support Manager for Harcourt/Heinemann and talked to 1000's of network managers and technicians over the years before putting my money where my mouth is and trying to do something different. So forgive my intrusion but I've always wanted to post something that wasn't an apology for some CDROM not installing !

    Thanks
    Chris

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterB View Post
    we're developing an API so that ode could be plugged into any webservice
    Have you discussed with anyone from Moodle any plans for repositories? I understand (from comments made by Martin Dougiamas at UK Moodlemoot 2007) that the Moodle concept of a repository is either a read or write repository. It would be good if Ode could simply be added as a read repository in Moodle, alongside the Open University one and similar.

    I know you'll probably have lots of questions
    So, related to the subject of this thread: what facilities will you offer to assist resource-creators in making their resources? Would it be appropriate for you to offer facilities as I outlined in my previous post, so non-programmers could make their own snazzy Flash widgets/games/etc by providing some images and clicking a few form buttons? Or would that sort of thing be best left to a third-party application, capable of writing to your system via your API (or as a standard "write repository")?

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterB View Post
    Also it may interest you to know that I used to be the ICT Support Manager for Harcourt/Heinemann and talked to 1000's of network managers and technicians over the years before putting my money where my mouth is and trying to do something different.
    I must admit, I lol'd at that comment! After having been presented with a truly heinous Listos Electronico (Heinemann) package to install (which requires all sorts of guff running on the server at all times and anything upto 3 server reboots during install) I'm surprised the number of NMs you spoke to was only in 4 figures!!

    The project you linked to does look interesting and I think (/hope) that a more general move towards SCORM as the standard for educational software distribution will solve a lot of headaches. No more will I be asked to register 3 ocx files, 2 dlls and rename an ini file on each workstation for a software title to work!

    Good luck to you!

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    @ David - OK, yes, we have discussed Moodle integration quite heavily, talking to pteppic and Synergy Learning who both come highly recommended.

    Whilst I am not writing off ode contribution to a Moodle repository it's worth remembering that at it's heart ode is a shop containing commercial content and needs to function as such. ode doesn't own or make content at all, unlike services such as Open University. We have slightly different ideas about what the ode service could do for Moodle users e.g. direct access to their ode library and playlists. I imagine our content partners may see "Read only" as "free access". But we will keep pushing a number of ideas around this area, everything is on the table.

    The idea of content creation tools embedded into ode occured to us very early on and we are pursuing this as we think it's a great idea. I don't see it as an immediate concern, but something to focus on once the basic platform is up and running. We follow Getting Real and instead of trying to do everything at once we intend to release updates quickly and regularly. I think it's likely we will partner with someone who already does this well and integrate that facility via the API rather than build it ourselves. Did you have a webtool in mind?

    @ sahmeepee - Haha! Yep, I totally get where you're coming from. Anyone who's ever worked a helpdesk will understand the frustration at having to service and support products that seem to work against the customer. Didn't a cigar chomping movie mogul once say: "Nobody sets out to make a bad movie"? Part of me hopes that by liberating the content from these products will not only free up your time to concentrate on the technology and platforms in your schools it will also inspire the content creators to think more about the quality and usefulness of the content itself at individual SCORM level, instead getting bogged down in interfaces, server side compliance and install routines.

    If ode works we should see some remarkable content being produced purely for this type of model/distribution, whether it's from commercial organisations or individuals.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterB View Post
    We have slightly different ideas about what the ode service could do for Moodle users e.g. direct access to their ode library and playlists. I imagine our content partners may see "Read only" as "free access".
    No reason why a Moodle repository API shouldn't support paid-for content, although that might be something any developers simply haven't thought of yet.

    The idea of content creation tools embedded into ode occured to us very early on and we are pursuing this as we think it's a great idea. I don't see it as an immediate concern, but something to focus on once the basic platform is up and running. We follow Getting Real and instead of trying to do everything at once we intend to release updates quickly and regularly. I think it's likely we will partner with someone who already does this well and integrate that facility via the API rather than build it ourselves. Did you have a webtool in mind?
    Sounds like a sensible approach. I've not been able to find a suitable webtool, so I was thinking to write one. I was thinking of something as simple as possible that allows the average user to pick from a list of available nifty Flash widgets, plug in some graphics and data and simply click to download and use. All this would need by way of integration with Ode (or others) would be some kind of API that lets a user write resources to their Ode account space in some way.

    About the nearest I've found to the above is something like http://www.contentgenerator.net/ - Andrew Field's software that generates Flash-based exercises for use in classrooms. This is client-based rather than web-based. Andrew must be very busy running that company and being head of Neal-Wade ICT department!

    --
    David Hicks

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