Five steps in creating a course
The "Authors" section provides all the procedures to
The procedures make it possible to create or make changes in course content that is saved in a temporary folder until the work is verified and moved to the permanent folder. This allows any registered author, staff or board member to work on files while minimizing the risk of errors in changes to course content which would be present if direct access were possible with FTP, Telnet or SSH. This approach also avoids placing all the processing and handling of files in the hands of a webmaster. As noted below, records are maintained on the location and progress made in all course files, and PEOI's procedures are designed to move files to their intended location.
The procedures on PEOI are specifically intended to deal with
the most common changes in course text and questions files. For security
purpose, changes take effect after PEOI's editor or coordinator
has verified that the modified files have not been inadvertently
damaged. Generally speaking, the procedures make sure that files
are saved in the format that meets system requirements, but there
is no need to jeopardize safety for sake of haste, and verification
is an adequate safeguard. Naturally, only a PEOI's registered author
and faculty member can use these procedures. Each of the procedures
contains a "Work status schedule" which shows
- the progress made in each chapter file (using colour codes),
- the ID number of the team member who last worked on that file, and
- other statistics about course files (size, links, percent completion).
All the way at the bottom of a procedure screen, guidelines on how to use the procedure are provided.
The process of creating a course does NOT start with the writing of the course content
but with entering all the necessary information about the course in PEOI’s course data bank.
This is done in the “Propose Course” procedure for which components are presented below.
Some of the information is used to create and control the course files structure. Another portion
of the information is intended for students in their selection of courses in which to enroll.
The essential information is:
- title of course
- code of course
- name of directory
- name of text files
- name of test questions data banks
- number of chapters
- whether the course will have one page per chapter (i.e. introductory course), or sections and subsections in each chapter (i.e. professional course).
In addition, the language in which the course is written and the name of the contributor who proposed the course, are automatically entered (but can be changed).
The person who is most likely to propose a course is the dean of the program of study in which the course will be included. The dean may also appoint an author for the course. More often authors join a group or project for the development of a course, or choose tasks in the “My tasks selection” procedure. In either case, the names of all authors must be listed in the "About authors" section of the course, and be present in the copyright claim on the page to which they contributed.
To put course content into course files, the course files must exist: this is the purpose of the “List chapters” procedure. The first step is to enter the chapter titles. If the course has been specified as professional with sections and subsections, checkmarks must be placed for all the needed sections and subsections, then the titles of these sections and subsections. After that, checkmarks must be placed for all the needed auxiliary sections: assignments, reading lists, appendices, comments and review questions. Once all the checkmarks and titles are in, the "Save" button must be clicked to keep a permanent record of the structure of the course. The last step is to click on "Set up files structure" button: this will create all the files and data banks of the course into which content can later be placed.
This "List chapters" procedure also allows to add new chapters or sections to an existing course files structure. If a course files structure become corrupted, it can be reinstated automatically from the existing files with this procedure.
Because filling out the form where all the titles must go in "List chapters" is rather tenuous and subject to errors, the list of titles can be imported beforehand in "Upload document". Then the name of that document appears in the form, and clicking on "Import" causes the screen to come back with the form filled out. This is explained at the bottom of the guidelines where the format to use for the lits of titles is also presented.
Working on course content
Developing course content is performed with procedures designed to handle the different
files outlined previously:
- “Insert into course page”,
- “Import rtf”,
- “Import pdf”,
- “Import html”,
- “Edit HTML text”,
- “Edit cases”,
- “Summarize concepts”,
- “Create questions”,
- “Edit questions”,
- “Upload images”,
- “Upload audio”,
- “Upload document”,
- “Create class discussion”,
- "List readings".
Each of these procedures contains guidelines which the author, editor and translator should read carefully. It is important to notify PEOI promptly if a problem occurs so that it can be fixed without delay. The procedures have been modified many times in the recent past, and are likely to be further improved in the future. Each time a change is made, a risk is present that the modification is not fully debugged. All users of the procedures are asked to cooperate in informing about problems and making suggestions for improvement, so that the procedures are as efficient and useful as possible.
Next: Editing text files