Developing an Online Course in Moodle as Quickly as Possible

I had a reader send me a question about how to estimate the time it will take to develop a course in Moodle. I'd like to share her question and my answer with you. As always, your comments and experiences are welcome.

Her Question:
I am just about to embark on my masters dissertation project, and am looking a web-based tutorials for teaching. At the moment I’m considering putting together a tutorial as part of the project using moodle (I have copies of your books in front of me now).One question I cannot seem to find an answer to, is realistically how long would it take for me to construct something like this? I have seen reports stating that construction of online courses can take up to 18 months, but I think these were from scratch as opposed to using a software programme such as moodle. I am fairly Internet literate, and have created basic webpages before, but have never done anything like construct my own online course.I am studying via distance learning and also have a full-time job. I have between now and June/July to work on my project (including analysis and user-testing, etc) – do you think this is something which I can realistically achieve in this kind of time frame? ....

My Answer:
In my experience, the old methods of determining how long it takes to develop courseware were never very accurate. With the variety of tools available to us today, the many different situations, and the many different expectations from learners and stakeholders, those old recommendations are even more inaccurate.
I no longer ask, "How long will this take me to develop?" Instead I ask, "How long before the client needs it?" And then I determine what I can do between now and then. It sounds to me like you have a few hours a week to spend on developing an online course, between now and June. That's not much time. So instead of dwelling upon how long it will take, let's talk about how to maximize your output in the time that you do have.

First, try to get out of installing Moodle yourself. If you can use an outside hosting service, find one that has a one-click install for Moodle. If you must use your organization's web server, try to get the web admin to install it for you. When Moodle installs without trouble, the installation goes quickly. When it gives trouble, you can spend hours tracking down the problem. If you pay a few dollars a month for a hosting service that will install Moodle for you, I advise it.

Second, resolve to stay within Moodle's built-in capabilities. Some of the add-on modules add great functionality. But for a project working against time constaints, I advise you stick with Moodle's built-in functionality and not get bogged down in trying to get add-ons to work.

Third, make as much use of existing material as possible. As a librarian, I'm sure you can locate web pages that you can use as course material. I think there's nothing wrong with a course whose learning material consists entirely of links to external web pages, video, and audio. For example, if I was teaching a course on public speaking, I might link to a funny Youtube video of public speaking bloopers, tips from Toastmasters, and famous speeches. Creating your own multimedia takes especially long, so I would search Creative Commons for media I could use in my course.

Fourth, I would try to use Moodle's built-in Web page editor (Web page Resource) to write a short description of each resource that I link to, and what I want the students to pay attention to while viewing it, and what I'd like them to get out of it. To ensure that they read this before going to the resource, I would put the link to the resource on this web page instead of on the course's home page. Then, the students would need to go through the web page that I write before clicking through to the external web page/video/audio.

Fifth, I would follow up each reading/viewing/listening resource with an activity created in Moodle. For example, I might ask the students to:
contribute to an online discussion, and to rate other students' postings in that forum. (Forum activity)
take a short quiz on the material (Quiz module)
write a summary of the material and upload it (Assignment activity)
record a snippet of speech and upload it (Assignment or Workshop activities).

Sixth, I would use outside services for things that Moodle doesn't handle, or that it handles only with plug-ins. For example, after the students have completed viewing the resources and doing the follow-up activities, just before an exam, I might schedule a summary lecture with WebEx or GoToMeeting. The lecture could include a slide show of the material that will be on the final exam, whiteboarding, and chat. If possible, I would record the session and offer it to the students as a download.

Seventh, I would offer an online exam open only at a given time, to ensure that students don't take the exam and pass along the answers.

That would be my model for rapid development of an online course. And if I could, I would choose a topic for that course based upon the amount of good material freely available online.

Originated by William Rice:http://williamriceinc.blogspot.com/

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How to convert PowerPoint to Flash with Adobe Flash CS4

"Convert PowerPoint to Flash" has been the hot topic on Internet. Put this phrase into Google or Bing, you can easily get a huge number of web links there. Comparing with PowerPoint, Flash has more advantages for circulating presentation online or offline. Flash can be played directly on every computer and Internet, while PowerPoint has many limitations; Flash can only be played and hardly to be edited by others; the size of the converted Flash presentation can be reduced to almost 80%.

So we know "Convert PowerPoint to Flash" is a trend, but how to do that? Should you we do it with PowerPoint? So far Microsoft hasn't added this function in it. How about doing it with Adobe Flash? If you have the time and if you are familiar with Adobe Flash – then it can be one of your choices! Today let's see how to convert PowerPoint to Flash with Adobe Flash


First, save the PowerPoint presentation as WMF files, it applies to PowerPoint 2007.

1. Open your presentation in PowerPoint, click the Office button-> Save As-> Other Formats, then Save As dialog box appears, choose Windows Metafile (*.WMF) in the Save as type drop-down list, and click Save.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash   CS4

Notes: WMF is a vector format, and Flash accepts all vector formats. These WMF files can be resized without losing their resolution.

2. A message window appears asking if you want to export every slide or just the current slide, click the Every Slide button. Then another massage window states the folder where the WMF slides have been saved.

Secondly, import these WMF slides to Adobe Flash CS4.

1. Open Adobe Flash CS4, create a new Flash document. Please select Action Script 2.0.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

2. Now choose File-> Import-> Import to Stage.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

3. Then the Import dialog box appears; select the folder where the WMF files were saved, and click the first file. Click Open.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

4. There will be a message asking if you want to import the entire sequence, click Yes.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

5. Then the files are imported to Adobe Flash CS4, go to File-> save-> save as the Flash (.FLA) file.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

6. Go to Modify -> Ungroup.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

Notes: The ungroup option converts all PowerPoint slide objects as individual components in Flash that can be animated using native Flash options.

Thirdly, export the Flash file as an SWF file from Adobe Flash CS4.

Notes: Before exporting the Flash FLA file to a SWF file, make sure that the WMF file dimension and the Flash movies dimensions are the same.

1. Click on any of the imported images, then click Properties panel, you can see the dimension of this image.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

2. Click the Modify -> Document, then Document Properties dialog box appears; change the dimensions to match those of the imported WMF files, and at the same time do remember change the Frame rate to .25 fps. Then click OK.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

3. From the File menu, choose Export-> Export Movie.

convert PowerPoint to Flash with  Adobe Flash CS4

4. Choose the output folder, and then click OK to export.

Then you can get the SWF files, the PowerPoint presentation is converted to Flash.

Pay Attention:

In this way you can only convert the whole presentation to the static images or bitmaps, all
settings of timing, transition and animation cannot be saved. If the presentation contain some multi-media elements, such as music or video, it is obvious that all of them will become just static images or disappeared.

If you think this tutorial is so complicate and verbose that you don’t spend time on it, and also want to
prevent dynamic design and multi-media elements in your presentation from being converted to static/bitmap pictures, you can try some professional converting softwares, such as Wondeshare PPT2Flash, Articulate Presenter etc, all of them can as well help you converting PowerPoint to Flash with easier steps.

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Social Learning Resouces

I found a few valuable social learning resources. Take a look at these slideshows below for several perspectives and best practices for using social learning at your organization.
Defining Your Social Learning Strategy

Social Learning and Internal Communications

Harnessing the Power of Social Networks in Teaching and Learning

Social Learning Success Stories, Models, And Roles

Also, be sure to check out these books:
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate (Voices That Matter)

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