Create: Define and Explain Learning Object Authoring Tools Quest

posted May 23, 2016, 11:31 AM by Emily Kroutil
I found five learning object authoring tools in my research.  A few of them I've experimented with and some of them I've used quite a bit.  

Three Free Tools:
  1. iBooks Author 
    • This app is free, but it does require you to have an Apple computer.  You can create multimedia books with videos, images, quizzes, etc. that can be viewed on an iPad.  I've created half of two different books for my students.  I wrote the content in student-friendly conversational format.  I got stuck in a couple places, however: 
      1. it takes a lot of TIME to write a textbook for students and teachers don't have a lot of time. 
      2. Finding creative commons media to use in the book that would not violate copyright.  Even though I wasn't planning on selling the "textbook", I didn't want to violate copyright law.  With enough time, this could be a viable option for presenting material to students, especially in a virtual school atmosphere.
  2. Google Drive
    • I've used this free suite of apps quite often.  You can create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.  You can also use Google forms to create surveys or quizzes for students.  I've also created a bare bones spreadsheet and given my AP kids the links and they've filled in their individual data for an experiment and created a class data set in an easily accessible place.  The collaborative nature of Google Drive is nice because I can create a learning object template or a partial learning object and the students can complete the object, which gives them more ownership of the material.  Hopefully, this translates to a better understanding of the material.
  3. QuickTime
    • There is a paid version of Quicktime and a free version.  I use the free version.  Quicktime allows you to record your computer screen and narrate, if you'd like.  I used this software with the eInstruction software below to create my screencasts.  This is an Apple software, but it is available for all computers.  It would also be interesting to have students author their own screencasts explaining a concept.  Again, this gives them more ownership of the material and students that are teaching other students tend to comprehend the material better.  The videos could then be posted on the course page for other students to view.  After several classes/semesters of this, the teacher could have a large repository of instructional videos, all created by students, and many of which offered varying perspectives on the material.
Two Paid Resources:
  1. Camtasia
    • Camtasia studio is $179.00 and Camtasia: Mac is $75.  TechSmith does offer a 30 day free trial of Camtasia.  This is the same software Sal Khan uses to create his videos on Khan Academy.  I liked this software.  I liked it better than the eInstruction software below.  However, I'm cheap and even though I have a Mac, I couldn't quite justify the $75.  I already had the eInstruction software provided by my district.  However, if I were to start creating a large number of instructional videos, I'd probably bite the bullet and purchase Camtasia.  It could be used (obviously) to create instructional videos for students.  I wouldn't use it for students because I wouldn't want to ask my students to pay for that software (Although if it was a one-time assignment, I guess I could have each of them sign up for a trial account.  There is a learning curve, however, and I'm not sure it would be worth it for a single assignment.).
  2. eInstruction WorkSpace
    • It looks like eInstruction may have been purchased by or renamed Turning Technologies.  I'm not certain how much it costs because this software is usually sold to districts and not individual teachers.  So it's probably expensive, but it also probably comes with quite a few licenses.  Mine copy came with a Mobi Slate (link is to the UK site) that our PTA purchased for me.  This software is meant for interactive whiteboards.  However, I used it in conjunction with QuickTime and the Mobi to create instructional videos.  I liked this software because it allowed me to put graph paper as a background, could draw perfectly straight lines (something I CANNOT do, especially on a slate).  It also let me use a variety of colors, which was useful when I wanted to explain different parts of a problem or wanted something to stand out.  Again, this isn't something I would have students use to create objects, but is useful as a teacher to create instructional videos.
There are many other tools, such as classtools.net, that have been posted on the Forums, but I wanted to stick to resources that I've personally used so I could provide a firsthand account of their usefulness.
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