SOLR:General Best Practices for Creating Learning Resources

From BCcampus Mediawiki
Jump to: navigation, search


General Best Practices for Creating Learning Resources

NOTE: The information in this section applies to all course management systems (CMSs). Also see the best practices that apply to your post-secondary institution’s CMS.

Use Standards-compliant Tools and Portable Formats

Overview

Adhere to industry-wide standards when creating and packaging content. This ensures your content can run properly in as many computing and learning delivery environments as possible. For example:

  • Create content outside of your CMS using commonly-available third party tools. (See the Best Practices re: Other (Non-CMS) Tools section of the Collaborative Support Area for Standalone (Third Party) Tool Selection Guidelines.)
  • Package content using portable formats such as IMS Content Packaging, IMS QTI (Question and Test Interoperability) and SCORM.

Check out the reference material below for more information on improving the interoperability of your learning resources. Please add your recommendations to the list!

Determine the Appropriate Format for Uploading to SOL*R

Overview

SOL*R provides the most value to the online learning community when the learning resources contained in SOL*R can be:

  • Used in as many environments as possible (i.e., within other CMSs and outside of a CMS)
  • Previewed to assess the potential usefulness of content prior to downloading
  • Linked to directly and used without modification.

To facilitate the above, learning resources should be uploaded to SOL*R in the appropriate format.

Acceptable Upload Formats

What Can SOL*R Accept?

The following types of files (and references) can be uploaded to SOL*R:

  • IMS Content Packages
  • Zip files
  • Individual binary media files
  • URLs that refer to a site on the Web.
About IMS Content Packages

An IMS Content Package is an international standard that allows learning resources to be transferred between course management systems. Some CMSs have the ability to export content in this format (e.g., WebCT and Desire2Learn). An IMS Content Package can be previewed in SOL*R and can be imported and used in other CMSs.

About Zip Files

Zipping is a convenient way to compress and package a large numbers of files for convenient uploading to SOL*R. A zip file is typically used to upload a complete website or a standalone resource comprised of multiple files (e.g., a simulation or animation). A standalone resource is a learning resource created by a standalone tool outside of a CMS. It does not require a CMS to be viewed.

A learning resource that is uploaded to SOL*R as a zip file can be previewed in SOL*R only if the contents of the compressed file are in a format that can be previewed. Files that are web-ready can be previewed in SOL*R (e.g., HTML pages or PDF documents), whereas files in a proprietary format (e.g., Adobe Illustrator images) cannot be.

Zip files are automatically unzipped on the SOL*R server for previewing purposes. When you upload a zip file to SOL*R, you can specify which file is initially opened during previewing.

About Individual Binary Media Files

Individual binary media files are intended to be uploaded/downloaded and used one-at-a-time. They are typically standalone learning resources created outside of a CMS (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation). Other examples include .doc, .pdf, .gif, .htm, and .swf. files. Binary files cannot be executables (i.e., .exe files).

A binary media file can be previewed in SOL*R if it is web-ready.

TIP: If you are uploading a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint file, you have the option of letting SOL*R convert the file to HTML so that it can be viewed by as many users as possible.

TIP: When you contribute individual binary media files to SOL*R, you can attach multiple individual files for uploading instead of uploading each file individually. This is useful for a "few" files. If you are uploading more than three or four files, consider combining the files in a zip file. This will make it easier and faster to upload/download the resource to/from SOL*R.

About URLs that Refer to a Site on the Web

In addition to the types of files noted above, SOL*R accepts website addresses. When a resource is contributed to SOL*R as a URL, users access the learning resource by linking to the hosting institution’s website. The website does not reside on the SOL*R server.

Uploading a learning resource as a URL is useful in situations where the resource requires a special server-side component to run properly (e.g., streaming media).

WARNING: Be aware that when you contribute a URL to SOL*R, the onus is on you to maintain the resource at that location indefinitely.

Guidelines for Uploading a Resource to SOL*R

Moodle Content (Course or Course Component)

See Comparison of Alternatives for Contributing Moodle Content to SOL*R for more information.

Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Moodle backup file Individual binary media file
  • Cannot be previewed in SOL*R
  • Can only be used as a course in Moodle environments
  • Other users can access content but they have to manually recreate the course from content files
Zip file
  • Some of the core content can be previewed without requiring a second upload
  • During upload, identify the key files for previewing within SOL*R
  • Can only be used as a course in Moodle environments
  • Other users can access content but they have to manually recreate the course from content files
Moodle backup file plus URL with guest access Individual binary media file (for the backup file)
URL (for the course site on the Web)
  • Guest access to the URL allows the course to be previewed
  • Two uploads are required (backup file and URL)
  • Can only be used as a course in Moodle environments
  • Other users can access content but they have to manually recreate the course from content files
Individually exported/downloaded modules and other course files Zip file
Desire2Learn Module or Course
Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Exported IMS Content Package IMS Content Package
  • Can be previewed in SOL*R
  • Can be imported and used by other CMSs
  • See ??? for more information (waiting for confirmation of correct way to export in D2L – select Files or Components?)
Standalone Resource Comprised of One or a "Few" Files
Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Individual file(s) created outside of a CMS Individual binary media file
  • Can be previewed in SOL*R if in web-ready format
  • Can optionally be linked to and used directly from SOL*R (if resource can be previewed)
Standalone Resource Comprised of Multiple Files
Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Group of files created outside of a CMS Zip file
  • Individual files must be zipped before uploading
  • During upload, identify the key files for previewing within SOL*R
  • Can be previewed in SOL*R if in web-ready format
  • Can optionally be linked to and used directly from SOL*R (if resource can be previewed)
Standalone Website
Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Entire website created outside of a CMS Zip file
  • Individual files must be zipped before uploading
  • During upload, identify the key files for previewing within SOL*R
  • Can be previewed in SOL*R
  • Can optionally be linked to and used directly from SOL*R
Web Resource Hosted Outside of SOL*R
Resource Type Upload Format Considerations
Resource that resides on the Web URL for a site on the Web
  • Resource cannot be downloaded from SOL*R
  • Contributor must maintain the resource at the URL location indefinitely

Design Up Front for Reusability

Overview

When creating a learning resource, there are a number of things that can be done (from an instructional design perspective) to make the resource useful in other contexts. For example:

  • Don’t put contextual information about a course in the content (e.g., course title, instructor information, and dates).
  • "Chunk" content into self-contained units.
  • Organize content around learning objectives.
  • Separate content from navigation and presentation.


SOLR:category:uncategorized