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Exploring the Possibility of Hosting Graduate Nursing Curriculum Moodle Book Resources within Xerte

Xerte

Aaron has been exploring the capabilities and customisation options of Xerte in response to the envisaged requirement to take Book Resources developed within Moodle and making them publically available. Currently these Book Resources are generated and delivered within Moodle but have the restriction that users would need access to the University’s installation of Moodle.

The potential of allowing these high quality resources to be made more widely available along with potential benefits with regard to reuse and sharing across courses have been voiced by the HELM team.

The book resources are generated through the Book Module within Moodle, and this “makes it easy to create multi-page resources with a book-like format.”  (Moodle Documentation) These resources are linear type resource which is limited to chapters and subchapters. These resources are non-interactive but allow for the embedding of audio, video and files within the contents.

Here are examples of a GNC book resource within Moodle:

Moodle Book Resource

Screen shot of the Moodle Book Resource - title page

Moodle Book Resource: introduction

Screen shot of the Moodle Book Resource - learning topic introduction page

Moodle Book Resource: lecture information

Screen shot of the Moodle Book Resource - lecture information page

Moodle Book Resource: learning topiccoplete message

Screen shot of the Moodle Book Resource - learning topic completion page

The main features provided by the book resources are:

  • Ease of linear movement through the book
  • Additional contents navigation
  • Ability to embed image, audio, video, files and other web content
  • Ability to re-style through the use of CSS and JavaScript
  • Ability to print both current section or the entire book 

Xerte

Xerte is an open-source suite of tools for the development of interactive learning materials. The latest version of which has replaced the Flash plugin dependency utilising HTML5 templates including a responsive template which makes use of the Bootstrap Framework.

The Xerte Project provides a suite of award-winning open-source tools for elearning developers and content authors producing interactive learning materials. The tools are in use in institutions and organisations all over the world, with an enthusiastic community of users, and an active team of developers working to bring new features and enhancements to the software.

With the release of v2.0 of Xerte Online Toolkits, content can be delivered to any device removing the dependency on the Flash Player. A new responsive template enables authors to deliver content to all devices, from an iPhone to a large desktop computer, and the Xerte Online Toolkit now contains over 75 templates for presentation and interactivity.

Aaron decided to explore these new capabilities and see how well one of the Moodle books may transfer over to Xerte. The initial work involved taking content from the Moodle book and transferring it in to the Bootstrap template within Xerte. Standard Xerte Bootstrap Template

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: learning topiccoplete message

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - standard view

Once some representational content was added it became clear that the single scrolling page type presentation would not be suitable for the Moodle book replacement. Aaron undertook some exploratory work to begin to understand how Xerte pushed out the content to the browser and what could be achieved through adding bespoke CSS and JavaScript. The jQuery framework is utilised by the Xerte Bootstrap template which offers extensive and consistent object selection and modification mechanism. This allowed Aaron to reorganise and in places re-write the HTML code once the document loaded. The initial focus was to replicate the page of a book type display of content with linear navigation functions. These are automatically written to the page and with the aid of some custom CSS this begins to bring this version in line with the Moodle version.

Aaron also added text resizing functionality to the resource, leaning on earlier work with the HTML5  RLO template. This includes local storage to store text size options. The final step was to replicate the contents navigation mechanism. This was achieved through a combination JavaScript and Bootstrap providing a drop-down menu.

There was also a little modification of code used to improve the interactivity of the Curriculum Mapping inclusion within the books.

Xerte Modified Template

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: overview

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version with explinations

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: title page

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version - title page

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: overview page

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version - overview page

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: lectures page

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version - lectures page

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: completion message page

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version - completion message page

Embedding within Moodle

Moodle offers a couple of mechanism for embedding Xerte content one of which is via the Add Activity -> External Tool -> Xerte Online Toolkit which seems to create a link to a page which has an iFrame linking directly to the specified Xerte resource. The second is adding the content via an iFrame to any component of Moodle which allows HTML input.

Xerte conversion of the Moodle Book Resource: resource embedded within Moodle

Screen shot of the Xerte book resource conversion - modified version - resource embedded within Moodle

Conclusion

The Xerte version of the Moodle Book resource is fairly close in functionality, the main omission is the full resource printing feature but Aaron feels confident this could be added through further development. There are some distinct benefits to the Xerte approach:

  • Open access to the resource – not limited to those who have the University of Nottingham Moodle accounts
  • Responsive template – providing excellent experience on various devices and screen sizes
  • Ability to easily customise both in terms of functionality and style
  • VLE independent

Technologies

  • Xerte Online Toolkit
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • jQuery
  • JavaScript Bootstrap (2.3)

Resources




The article was viewable from Friday, 9th May 2014.

Author: Aaron Fecowycz