Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Web and media tools for educators

This is a bit off-topic for this blog, but I suspect that it might be of interest to some of you who would even be reading this blog.
Web Page/Site Tools
I have long used FrontPage for my web pages/sites, but lately I have been playing with a trial version of the program that is replacing it, the new Microsoft Expression Web. Where FrontPage tried to make web page/site creation easy, Expression tries to be helpful in dealing with CSS, XML, and data integration. It does a very nice job, and it is indeed much more powerful than FrontPage, but I also think it is much more difficult, especially for someone without much background and who simply wants to create simple and fast pages.
As an alternative, I just discovered eXe at www.exelearning.org. It is free, Open Source, and specifically designed "to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup." It really is quite simple, partly because it really limits choices. I'll still use FrontPage, but I am going to use eXe to create quizzes and some other things (and then import into FrontPage).
[The only extra issue with eXe is that after creating the pages, you have to FTP them to a web site. I use the free SmartFTP which works great and is pretty much drag and drop.]
Bottom line: If someone wants to start doing web page stuff, Expression probably isn't the best choice. Either use FrontPage or try eXe.
Media Creation
Thanks for the many encouraging words about the OT in NT demo I posted. For that demo, I used PowerPoint and saved and posted it as a PowerPoint show. I linked out to short videos that I created using Windows Media Encoder (WME). Over on the BibleWorks blog, I posted this entry specifying the WME settings I had to figure out to make it work properly. Continuing in that thread, SCSaunders alerted me to Wink. This is really useful "tutorial and presentation creation software." It's free and quite easy to use and generates Flash (SWF) files. It works great for screen captures and appears best for start/stop, step-by-step directions. Adding audio works but makes for large files. It is quite easy, however, to add onscreen comments and cues after you have captured the screens. Try it out.


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