Authoring tools are available to help you develop your digital learning resources. In simple terms, an authoring tool is an e-learning course creation tool (Blake, 2016, online). Learning resources and objects can be created using these tools which then can embedded into an organisations virtual learning environment (VLE). There is wide range of authoring tools abaialbke to use and which one you choose will dpeend on the functionality for what yoor soecific needs or personal preference.
There are two types of authoring tools: Open Source (free/donated) and Commercial (paid for).
Open Source Examples:
- Book Builder
- Tool Book
Many of these authoring tools of both types can be used within education, with all of them bringing their own strengths as well room for improvements. There are 2 that bring the most attention, which are Moodle and Edmodo, therefore they both will be explored and compared in terms of their strengths and weaknesses relating to education.
To get an initial idea of what Moodle is, here is a quick overview in a video:
Moodle is and Open Source Learning Management System which is often used by education institutions to provide distance learning for students, which is now used around the world for online learning and training (Lambda Solutions, 2017, online). Teachers can use Moodle to upload PowerPoints that they use in lessons so that students can refer back to them in the future if they need to recap or revise a certain topic. The advantage of this is also that students who may miss a specific lesson, PowerPoints used or any documents in a lesson can be uploaded and the students can still access this from home, so they can catch up in their spare time and not miss out on the learning. It is also helpful for both teachers and students as it is a space for recommendations of books, journals and articles to be inserted, that students may find useful in their learning and work. Having Moodle as an available source is very beneficial for all users as it can be used anywhere, whether you are at home, school, college, on the train, therefore extended learning can happen outside of school/college hours, increasing achievement further than just in the classroom.
Even though Moodle may be easy to use once the course and pages have been set up, for both teachers and students, it can be difficult to understand how to actually get the course up and running , with everything essential included on it. Experiencing how to make a Moodle course, Moodle Sandbox was used and it was brought to attention that a lot of thought and time needs to go into this before the course can be fully created and published.
The different pages that you can include on the course are broken down for you into different sections, however it is slightly difficult to understand this without being told or showed this. Doing this alone would be very difficult as not much instruction is given to help you go along unless someone experienced can show you. The help and support section is also not easy to access as this has to be searched for instead of being there to click and find what you need help with. However, once you have a play around and become used to the tool and different access, it does become more familiar and you get used to how to do things, as long as you persevere. For a teacher who wants to have a Moodle page for their course, recommendations of having someone who knows how to do this at hand with you, so they can support you and make the creating process easier and quicker.
Moving onto another authoring tool called Edmodo, this is a tool that ‘is dedicated to connecting all learners with the people and resources they need, to reach their full potential’ (Edmodo, 2018, online). This is particular similar to social networking sites such as Facebook, where communities are brought together, in which for education allows teachers, pupils and parents to communicate through one place. Homework can be set through here so that parents can also see what their child should be completing, along with grades and targets, so that parents can keep track from home and encourage their children to work harder. Any letters of information or concerns can be sent through this, which allows parents to access these quicker than their child bringing it home in case they do not give it to their parents, which will lead to being unaware of this information or concern for their child. This tool is a lot more convenient to the teachers and parents, as they do not have to wait for face to face parents evening to express thoughts and feelings as some parents have busy work life so may miss these evenings. Therefore Edmodo would benefit these parents as they can still access this information. For pupils, they can also use this tool as a way of asking from help at home, for instance with their homework, where the teacher or even other students, can answer questions about this in time for the work to be completed so achievements can still be made.
Comparing this to Moodle, they are used in slightly different ways as users can chat with Edmodo unlike Moodle. However documents and resources can still be uploaded to both making them slightly similar. In terms of how to use the tools, Edmodo seems to be the easier option, as it is similar to other social networking sites that may already be used therefore users may already be familiar with how to use it. However, reading reviews on this tool, a disadvantage seems to have reoccurred that users state the app often crashes which restricts the usage, leading to frustrations with all users. Moodle on the other hand seems to be a tool that works fast and effective whilst in use, which may be a safer option for teachers to use to ensure that the course can still be accessed. Another disadvantage of Edmodo is that due it to being very much like Facebook, there is a risk that children may abuse it as way of communicating with others about anything, instead of being education related. This can also lead to over usage of the computer where they are distracted and extra learning does not actually occur. Therefore it seems that the tool Edmodo, is more beneficial for the communication between teachers and parents, rather than the students using this.
An issue that counts for both of these authoring tools is the cost. If these are sued within a class and school environment then a problem will occur with several students as they may not be able to financially afford technology in their own home. Therefore they are placed at a disadvantage as they will not be able to access all the particular information and resources that are uploaded, that the children who do have access will be able to see.
Edmodo also uses learning theories such as behaviourism, as it can encourage positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement refers to a stimulus that strengthens a behaviour and increases the probability of a behaviour to occur again (Troutman, 2015, p. 4). The teacher can include positive reinforcement into their site, by posting when certain children have completed something at a high standard, or achieved something out of their comfort zone so that other children, as well as their parents can see this and be proud of their action or outcome. Once the child is aware a post has been written about them, they feel a sense of self-fulfilment, and proud that they have achieved something, therefore they are more likely to perform this well again. This will therefore improve their overall achievement.
Blake, E., 2016. Gomo Learning: What is an authoring tool?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gomolearning.com/blog/what-is-an-authoring-tool/
[Accessed 27 02 2018].
Edmodo, 2018. Edmodo: About Edmodo. [Online] Available at: https://www.edmodo.com/about [Accessed 21 03 2018].
Lambda Solutions, 2017. Lamba Solutions: What is Moodle?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.lambdasolutions.net/resources/what-is-moodle/ [Accessed 21 03 2018].
Troutman, B., 2015. Integrating Behaviorism and Attachment Theory in Parent Coaching. Iowa: Springer.