eXe provides teachers with a pedagogically sound tool that enables them to author and publish their own high quality educational resources without having to learn the technical intricacies of packaging standards.
eXe—a content authoring tool with a pedagogical template
eXe is freely available open source software that has been developed in New Zealand since its inception in 2004 as part of the Tertiary Education Commission's e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF) initiative.
eXe is a digital content authoring tool with a pedagogically driven template system that provides power and flexibility in a simple and easy to use application. With eXe, users can develop learning structures that suit their content delivery needs and build resources that are flexible and easily updated. eXe also allows educational resources to be structured and authored offline, removing any network or connectivity barriers.
The eXe structured instructional template (iDevice) scheme guides authors in constructing course components that are logically and pedagogically sound. Helpful tips are provided to authors to aid them in applying the templates. The clearly delineated iDevices help structure packages, both for the author and the learner.
The pedagogical structure of the iDevices can help teachers organise their courseware in logical components for the students. By allowing more teachers access to eLearning technologies, a wider spectrum of content can be made available and by lowering the barriers to publishing, more teachers can be involved in developing their own online resources with little training required.
eXe's variety of publishing formats
Content developed with eXe can be packaged using open standards and published in a variety of ways, including:
- Self-contained web site - this export could be uploaded onto a web server and referenced by your LMS, or distributed on a CD-ROM or other transportable medium for offline viewing. A web export incorporates the navigational sequencing developed during authoring.
- SCORM 1.2 – The Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) export creates SCORM 1.2 content packages. SCORM packages can be imported into any compliant LMS or Learning Object Repository. SCORM is an internationally recognized specification for packaging learning content.
- IMS Content Package – IMS Content Packaging is a simple content packaging specification that is compatible with a variety of Learning Management Systems and Learning Object Repositories.
- iPod Notes – eXe content can also be exported as either a simple text file, or as a collection of notes for use on iPod.
Any Learning Management System (LMS) that is SCORM compliant should be capable of importing eXe generated content with ease, with several of the major ones used currently in schools and tertiary organizations (including Blackboard and Moodle) already having been put to the test in a number of contexts.
eXe is free, and available on most computer platforms
eXe is freely available for several operating systems, including Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. It has been downloaded thousands of times, is available in more than two dozen language translations, and has brought accolades from around the world for New Zealand's innovation in eLearning.
eXe has won many accolades overseas and in New Zealand
In fact, it has already been adopted in several international jurisdictions to support eLearning initiatives, including the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science's "Open Source and Standards in Education" software distribution. It was also named as one of the "Top 100 Tools for Learning 2007" compiled by the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies in the U.K.
In New Zealand, eXe is seen as connecting a number of Ministry of Education initiatives, building on the current investment in systems:
- Teachers empowered to author own content without requiring detailed standards or packaging knowledge
- Deploy the content in standard OLE/LMS or store in standard repositories
- Add consistent metadata to improve indexing and search, expanding opportunities for discovery and reuse
- Improve ease of use in publishing, providing a wider access and also improved opportunities for quality assurance of courseware
eXe v1.0 was released on 17 August 2007, and subsequent improvements, upgrades, and support continues to be made available. At a ULearn 07 workshop on eXe entitled "Designing and Developing Effective Content for Online Environments", feedback from educators included "It enabled me to think about pedagogy in a way that I had long ago forgotten" and "It really was 'as easy as that'!"