Monday, November 19, 2007

eXe joins CORE and is named a Learning Impact finalist

CORE Education and eXe have joined forces! Christchurch-based CORE Education’s new collaboration with the eXe team enjoys an exciting beginning as the IMS Global Learning Consortium announces that eXe is a New Zealand Regional Learning Impact Award finalist.

In September of 2007, the eXe team completed its second round of funding from the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission, culminating with the long-awaited release of eXe v1.0 to thousands of educators around the world. Seeing a strong synergy between CORE Education’s values with those of eXe, CORE and the eXe team aligned to ensure the continued support and future growth of eXe itself, as well as further technological innovation for education in the broader realm of CORE Education.

eXe team members Dr. Sandy Britain and Jim Tittsler (lead eXe developer) recently attended the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) quarterly meeting, the Summit on Innovation in Learning Technology conference, held in Queenstown. In addition to all of the other conference events (Dr. Britain presented “Beyond Static Content: The Common Cartridge”), they both had the excitement of demonstrating eXe to a panel of IMS GLC judges and being grilled in a Q&A session for all Learning Impact entrants.

On November 8th, IMS GLC named eXe as the 2nd Runner Up, one of this year's New Zealand Regional Learning Impact Awards finalists! Organizations from New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific Region, including India (but excluding Australia, which had its own regional competition) participated in the New Zealand Regional Learning Impact competition. As one of the top three Learning Impact projects in the New Zealand region this year, eXe is automatically entered into the global IMS GLC Learning Impact competition, to be held in Austin, Texas next May, 2008.

From the IMS GLC Learning Impact Award web page(

The Learning Impact Awards are designed to recognize the most impactful use of technology worldwide in support of learning. This unique program evaluates established, new, and research efforts in context at an implementing learning institution.

The Learning Impact program is facilitated by the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) for the purpose of recognizing outstanding applications of technology that address the most significant challenges facing the global education and training industries.

The Learning Impact awards are very exclusive. They signify those products, services and implementations that have the greatest impact or potential impact on global learning industry challenges and the greatest potential return on investment.

The eXe team is very proud of this recognition, and is equally proud to be a part of the CORE Education family. This collaboration will bring about many new and exciting possibilities to continue advancing eLearning approaches that are future-focused and support effective pedagogical practice.

Tairawhiti Polytechnic graciously hosts the eXe development team in Gisborne, and Auckland team members have previously been hosted by the Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland.

Monday, August 20, 2007

eXe 1.0

Well eXe 1.0 has ticked over with a dignified click. We are happy to announce that 1.0 has been unleashed in a low key sort of way. The Auckland based team will celebrate over a glass or two of good Kiwi wine tonight with Wayne who serendipitously is arriving back in Auckland this evening. We'll have a virtual glass with our Gisborne based crew, in fact if Brent brings his N800 we might even video call you in on celebrations tonight.

We have many people to thank for their contributions, first and foremost our developers without whom none of this would have been possible, David, Wen Chen Hol, Brent, Jenny, Matthew, Jim and Remo. These guys were dedicated to the cause even when sometimes it wasn't that clear what the cause was. You guys rock! We'd also like to acknowledge Jamie and Jonathan for the graphic work they contributed, all those who contributed to the language translations namely Bárd András, Arek Felinczak, Andres Mellik, Abbas Mousavi, Fredrik Paulsson, Ralf Hilgenstock, Sigurður Fjalar Jónsson, John Kostaras, Tania Oxenham, Sipho Msimango, L. Vandijck, Carla Impagliazzo, Jose Cifuentes Riquelme. Thanks also to our global community of users, testers, and enthusiasts who have encouraged us to continue our work here. Thanks to our funders and sponsors, The Tertiary Education Commission, Tairawhiti Polytechnic, Auckland University of Technology and The University of Auckland.

Thanks to Sandy for your leadership over the past year, we've probably left you a little grayer and wearier but as an adventure junkie we hope the ride has been worthwhile. Finally, Wayne, who believed that there was a real need for this software and that we could do it.

There are probably many people who have contributed to this release that I haven't mentioned by name here and I do apologise but please know we are very grateful for your contributions.

Friday, August 10, 2007

One More Thing

There is a lot of flexibility hiding behind the link button in eXe fields. You highlight some text that will become a link, then click the link button in the toolbar and enter the destination URL (complete with http://) in the popup box. The text becomes a standard hypertext link to the destination. A rather standard feature and very convenient for linking to resources elsewhere on the web. But we'd like to show you One More Thing... eXe 0.99.

You'll notice that the link popup has a file browser icon to the right of the URL field... just like the image, media, and math popups. Use the file browser to select a file and eXe will include the file in your package so that it can be accessed by clicking the link text. This brings the flexibility to include "attachments" in any eXe field with the rich text editor. There is no longer a need to use a special Attachment iDevice. Attachment handling now parallels that of images and media. We think this consistency further improves the eXe ease of use.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Media Flexibility

One aspect of eXe that we have been eager to improve is how images, audio, and video can be included within a course. R3m0 Williams has been hard at work over the past few releases to improve our rich text editor. When authoring each field of nearly every iDevice you will now see buttons for inserting images, media, and mathematics.(1) This gives you the flexibility to include media wherever it is appropriate, including things like inserting multiple video clips in one activity or putting an image in the feedback. There is no longer any need for special case iDevices that exist only for holding an image or certain type of media.

For example, if you click on the leftmost of the highlighted buttons you are shown a dialog box for selecting the image to embed and the properties of that image. Click on the file browser icon and you can pick an image (JPEG, PNG, GIF) from your local hard disk to be inserted in the field. The dialog box also allows you to set the description (the ALT tag of the image for accessibility) and the title (which many browsers display when hovering the mouse over the image). If you want finer control over image and text layout within the field, you can embed items inside of table cells using the rich text editor.

Old eXe packages that use the Image with Text iDevice are automatically updated to use the Free Text iDevice with the image embedded in it. You can edit that iDevice to change its layout (or even add more images). We plan to deprecate the other media-specific iDevices like Flash Movie, Flash with Text, MP3, and Maths since you can now include all of their features and more within the standard iDevices.

(1) The image button was added in eXe 0.95, the media button in eXe 0.97, and the mathematics button will appear in eXe 0.98 which you can get a sneak preview of by helping to test our nightly builds. Your feedback in our forums is most welcome.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Off to eFest...

Three of the eXe team will be descending on Wellington this week for eFest 2007, the big national gathering of teachers, course designers, policy makers, and technologists in the field of e-Learning. We are excited by the reaction we've had to eXe lately and look forward to talking with some of the users face-to-face to get more feedback.

We've released Version 0.95 of eXe today. The big version number jump is intended to suggest that we've implemented most of the key features that we have planned for this part of project. Over the next month or two we plan to refine the framework, polish the user experience, and continue to improve the stability of the editor. (And if you or someone at your institution wants to get involved with eXe development, customization, or translation, now is the ideal time.)

And speaking of the new version, in addition to the usual number of bug fixes and tweaks is a significant new feature: you can now embed images in arbitrary fields of the standard iDevices. This not only improves the authoring flexibility, it allows you to use images within the pedagogical templates the iDevices provide rather than having to treat the images as a special case.

So if you see some seedy guys handing out CDs of the "Pre Release" eXe and showing off text course content on an iPod at eFest, stop by and say "Hi" (or "Why...").

Friday, June 08, 2007

Removing iDevices from eXe

Users can now remove unwanted iDevices from the iDevice pane of their version of eXe by modifying the exe.conf file that comes with eXe. exe.conf is a text file that is used by eXe to configure many of the settings required to run the program. On Windows it can usually be found at C:\\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\Application Data\exe\exe.conf.

You can edit this file using Notepad on your system.

iDevices are specified by their English name (including spaces, if any). Setting an idevice to 0 or off will cause it not to show up in the iDevice pane. Add an [idevices] section to your exe.conf file and designate what iDevices you wish to remove by adding the name of the iDevice and either a "0" or the word "off" next to the name, like this:

Activity = 0
Case Study = off
Flash with Text = Off
Cloze Activity = On # this one would still appear

Save exe.conf and restart eXe.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

eXe for Mobile Content

One of the areas we are exploring is making educational resources available in a variety of formats, including mobile content delivery. In the 0.23 release of eXe, we've added a prototype of an export function that writes the Notes format used by the Apple iPod. There are several limitations imposed by this format, including being restricted to unstyled text, a strict page size limit, and a design that makes it difficult to include images/audio. However even with these severe limitations, certain types of read only resources are still usable and are now very portable.

The File... Export... iPod Notes menu item prompts for a folder to be used for the export. Within that folder, it creates a new folder with the current eXe package name that contains the table of contents and all of the pages. Simply copy that new folder to the Notes directory of an iPod to make the resource available on the go.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Adding a CC License to your eXe content

A new eXe has been released today, version 0.21. One of the relatively new features of eXe is the ability to easily add a range of Creative Commons licenses to your published content.

To add a license switch to the Properties pane by clicking on the Properties tab above the authoring space. Select the license you wish to add by using the dropdown menu. Be sure to clickon the "Done" button before returning to the Authoring pane or your additions will not be saved.

Click for larger image.

The license will be added to the bottom of your content when you export. A link will be provided to the actual online version of the license.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

eXe 0.20 released

It has been a long couple of months since our last official release. Since not everyone is daring enough to try the nightly builds, we needed a new release to get some of the many new features and dozens of bug fixes out to the user community. We backed out one particularly invasive change and allowed a few days for testing and tweaking.

Among the new features in version 0.20:
  • added Geogebra option to the Java iDevice plugin
  • optional footer on all pages of your project
  • dramatically improved loading speed for some complex .elp packages
  • backup crash recovery scheme
  • clearer iDevice editor user interface
  • first pass at SCORM2004 export
There have also been dozens of bug fixes and work arounds added.

While we still have a few significant features on our roadmap before reaching the mythical version 1.0, we will be working hard to stabilize the application and fix outstanding issues. We will try to release more frequently so that the user community can take advantage of this (and point out things that still need work).

We welcome feedback in the Eduforge eXe forums. Or if you run into a bug, you can report it in our issue tracker. Please search to see if someone else has already reported the problem, and if so add any clarifications that you can to their "ticket" to make it easier for us to reproduce the issue. You can add new tickets, but please be sure to give us information about the exact version of eXe and the operating system you are using along with any steps (or sample files) necessary to duplicate the problem.

We are also trying to make the project more accessible to developers. We've improved the instructions for tracking down the prerequisites and building from source, and we've also added some scripts that automate the build process. This will be an ongoing effort as we make eXe more customizable and the project more sustainable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Not for the feint of heart

The eXe team is now automating eXe builds and will be regularly releasing some experimental builds of the editor. These versions are not recommended for normal usage but they may fix some of the known bugs (... or introduce new ones!!!). If this is not for you then please visit the Eduforge download page to get the officially released and stable packages.

If you do decide to help test these packages, and we hope that some of you can, then feedback is most welcome! If you have problems, please be sure to let us know by either emailing us or using our ticket tracker, being sure to specify the (pre)release and revision number of the package you are using.

You can access the experimental builds here:

(photo - author: klareralt License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0)