About three month ago, I posted a query about authoring software
to develop computer-based training courses that will run on
I promised to post a summary of my findings. This is the summary.
- Infos from local sources
- Infos from The Net
No good free package is available, but there are some pointers to
commercial tools. No plug'n'play commercial unix software is available.
Pointers about the scientific scene of CBT are given (Europe, Japan,
some of the US).
I'm still interested in this issues, so if You have updates,
feel free to send them to me. If there are additional informations,
we can as well start an FAQ 8-)
Infos from local sources
I called the sales people of the following unix vendors:
HP, SUN and SGI were not able to locate software/packages that were
related to the problem at all.
SUN pointed to the SunInfo Hotline (firstname.lastname@example.org,
fon ++49 711 89/46008-321), where I should find more informations.
This was not the case.
>From DEC I was told that Mr. Gerd Nowak (fon ++49 89/9589-0, ask
for him) knows about these issues. He told me about the following
products from DEC:
- X Media Toolkit, a programming library that handles audio and
- DEC Sound/Picture Information Network, an video conferencing
application. I was told that is has no programming interfaces.
- DEC MediaImpact, a software to develop authoring/CBT/presentation
materials. It is not distributed in Germany because of its high
support requirements (user education and training).
- ToolBook, a PC-Windows software (not my target)
- IconAuthor, some sort of authoring system for DOS, UNIX and VMS.
IBM Bildungsgesellschaft (the part of IBM that organises/sells courses
and training etc), Mr. Roeder, (fon ++49 7032/15-0, ask for him)
returned my call and gave the following pointers
Tel. +46 8 635-3000
FAX +46 8 98-705
They are developing software in that direction (no further
- DVC Digital Video Computing GmbH
Tel. ++49 8152 9301-0
FAX ++49 8152 3661
They are in the video-business, integrating video into SUN
environments. They told me about MediaWrite, a SUN-only software
that seems to support MM-development. They told me about
An der Drift 65
Tel. ++49 6103/8905-0
Herr Fillipo Nardin, ++49 6103/8905-39
GainMomentum!, seems to be pretty expensive (30K DM), but also
very powerful. It has a database interface (no wonder 8-)
This seems to do the job pretty well, but I have no practical
experience, only glossy papers 8-)
- CAE Electronics GmbH
52222 Stolberg (?)
Tel. ++49 2402 106-0
FAX ++49 2402 106-270
They have some packages for CBT on pc-based old unix versions.
Its a converted defense contractor, so I assume its not *it*.
- Q-Team Dr. Knabe
Gesellschaft fuer Informations- und Qualifikationssysteme mbH
Tel. ++49 2161 6181-0
FAX ++49 2161 6181-81
They are developing for the low-end-hardware market and do not have
workstation based systems, but for SCO Unix etc they seem to have
quite a few installations and experiences. From the product infos
I can't comment on the usablility.
Seems like the reason there are so many consultants out there is
because the vendors do not really know their hardware, software
and market [flames by mail, please].
Infos from The Net
One of the best sources for an overview of the european development scene
and the players therein I found was the 1993 DELTA report. DELTA
is one of the ESPRIT projects, about distance learning.
There is a large bunch of acronyms, programs, policies, papers,
reports etc connected to research programs of the European Union,
if You have questions about them, send me a seperate mail.
If You want to recieve the 1993 DELTA report, send a mail to
National Point of Contact, Germany
ESPRIT-Project of the EU
or on EuroKom (a proprietary mailbox system in Ireland, where all
the guys from EU research programms do not meet 8-)
Ask for the DELTA 1993 report: Annual Technical Report on RTD in
Flexible and Distance Learning (Part of the STIG Programme)
For additional informations ask:
Commission of the European Union
Directorate XIII - Information Technologies and Industries and
Directorate C - RTD Actions: Telematics Networks and Services
Unit C-2 - Telematics networks and services applied to flexible and
Rue de la Loi, 200 - BU29 04/05
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
I found the pointer to this DELTA report on the ifo mailing
list, which distributes research/funding informations.
Ask Ulrich.Duerr@verwaltung.uni-giessen.d400.de for details
on how to subscribe etc.
The Japan travel report on "RESEARCH ON INTELLIGENT COMPUTER-ASSISTED
INSTRUCTION IN JAPAN" from email@example.com (Dr. Heinz-Ulrich
Hoppe) was very interesting, too. I've put it up for ano-ftp
on ftp.uni-stuttgart.de in the file
because it is too long to include here (40K).
It was posted to comp.research.japan in Nov.1993.
In response to my posting I received quite a few answers by EMail.
They are listed below:
Try SE Companion, from SECA. I don't know if they
distribute in the FRG, however. Their system works
under MS Windows, OS/2, and SunOS.
Don Lichtigfeld, Vice President - Sales
1495 Alan Wood Road, Suite 7
Conshohocken, PA 19428-1142 USA
-- Scott McCoy Harris Corp. Information Systems Division Staff Eng-SW Opinions expressed are my own.
---------------------------------------- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Esa K Viitala) Message-Id: <9310111417.AA29392@albatross.no>
I've been looking at hypermedia packages (For example Andrew and Vista Technologies' PCTE Workbench 1.1)
[He sent me a copy of the ACM Hypertext'93 Poster abstracts, that point into a similar direction. I've put it up for ano-ftp on ftp.uni-stuttgart.de, in the directory /pub/org/uni-s/faveve/Arbeitskreise/Computer/Texte/ as the file ACM-Hypertext-93-poster-abstracts (60K).]
---------------------------------------- From: " (Andrzej KULIK EPFL-IGA CH-1015 LAUSANNE)" <email@example.com>
I have a friend who was in HP-Labs and actually is driving a program for the software development for teaching called "COLOS". they use the most advanced software tools.
His e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Prof. Zvonko Fazarinc)
He's actually in Europe - so may be difficlult to reach quickly.
Good luck !
Andrew. *** Andrzej KULIK, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, *** Institut de Genie Atomique, CH-1015 LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND. *** Phone: (21)693'33'59, Fax: (21)693'44'70, e-mail: email@example.com
[I sent him a mail, below is his response:]
From: Zvonko Fazarinc <firstname.lastname@example.org> Message-Id: <9310252038.AA20805@hplzaf.hpl.hp.com>
Project COLOS is a consortium of ten universities from seven European countries. Germany is represented by the Institut fuer Paedagogic der Naturwissenschaften at University of Kiel and by Technical University Berlin. The platforms are high performance UNIX workstations and X11/Motif. Because COLOS promotes conceptual software creation by professors themselves we have developed an authoring system which tries to put a high degree of transparency between the author and the capabilities of X11/Motif. The authoring system is in the experimental phase where all members are testing it. It will be offered to other schools when fully debugged through the firm SOFT-NET S.A. c.o. Georges Vallet, Chesaux-Dessus, 1264 Saint Cergue, Switzerland. Fax&Tel: 41 22 3601061.
You may want to contact the Kiel or Berlin responsible persons for more information on COLOS. Dr.Hermann Haertel from Kiel is the COLOS project manager, and Dr. Klaus Rebensburg is the TUBerlin representative.
The one reason we embarked on development of our own authoring system was exactly the non-availability of flexible, yet really helpful packages.
---------------------------------------- From: email@example.com Message-Id: <9310112209.AA07893@envy.tamu.edu>
The US company Sybase, which is mostly a database company, is now selling something called "Gain Momentum", a multi-media interface to their database. They claim that it can do almost anything multi-media.
It's expensive. And since it is expensive, that's all I know about it. :-)
Alan Peery Institute for Scientific Compuation Texas A&M University firstname.lastname@example.org
[The problem with the price tag can be confirmed 8-)] ----------------------------------------
email@example.com (John Park) told me about Authorware Professional. It is disrtibuted by Macromedia located in San Francisco. The platform is the Macintosh. Authorware is published for Windows also. There is an Authorware discussion list. It is called AWARE-L. Send SUBSCRIBE message to LISTSERV@UKANVM.CC.UKANS.EDU
Macromedia also publishes Director. Director seems to be great for animations and Authorware is great for interactions.
In the PC world, Toolbox gets mentioned lots. He thinks the publisher is called Asymetrix. He does not know the location or if that is the right spelling. He has seen Toolbook users post messages on the following discussion list: AAIM-L. Send SUBSCRIBE message to AAIM-L-REQUEST@CITADEL.EDU.
---------------------------------------- From: Rose Jones <Rose_Jones@sat.mot.com> Message-Id: <199310121423.AA19146@motsat.sat.mot.com>
Az Public Service uses a product called TenCore which produces wonderful CBT (computer based training) courses on a variety of subjects. However, they only use it on PCs; I don't have a clue who the vendor is or if they support any UNIX platforms...
********************************************************** Rose Jones ISES User Support Motorola Satellite Communications Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org Voice: (602) 732-2252 **********************************************************
---------------------------------------- From: email@example.com (Elmer Fittery) Message-Id: <9310131221.AA08882@aoa.utc.com>
> where can I find a development system for developing computerized > courseware?
Try talking to somebody at University of Waterloo. It seems I remember something from the dim past about them providing such a product for free.
-- Elmer Fittery UNITED TECHNOLOGIES Adaptive Optics Associates firstname.lastname@example.org
[I haven't found it. Any hints, anyone ?]
---------------------------------------- From: David Martland <David.Martland@brunel.ac.uk> Message-Id: <email@example.com>
I seem to have been here before! In the UK there are a number of groups working on Hypertext systems for various educational reasons. Some of these groups are working under Government funded initiatives to produce material which can be distributed round the UK - at this university there is a contact
Martin.Greenhow@brunel.ac.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
who may be able to help you with further information regarding such work.
Much of the work is targeted at PCs - so tools such as Toolbook and Authorware are used. Some people have used Linkway, and some have stuck with Macintoshes and are producing HyperCard material.
I have worked on Macs, PC and Unix systems, and I investigated several packages. I found the following for Unix:
1. Hyperbole - an emacs based system - available free - I haven't got this working yet.
2. Texinfo - distributed as part of Gnu Emacs - a useful system to know about, but perhaps not ideal.
3. Latexinfo - similar to above, but based on LaTeX rather than TeX.
4. CMUs Andrew system - I suspect this is good, but it is a large system, and I had difficulty installing a running version here. I did try the demo system and that looked good.
5. World Wide Web based browsers - such as Mosaic, which use HTML as a mark-up language. These seem quite effective, and can be used effectively by staff and students with little training.
ALL of the ABOVE systems are essentially free. I also found about a system called HyperNews, but I could't install it, and the developers were unhelpful - I think because the software base for the package is no longer supported.
I also looked at some Commercial packages -
6. NoteCards from Ranxk Xerox - pricing around $5000 depending on configuration.
7. MetaCard - a sort of Unix Hypercard - very good - priced around $5000 depending on configuration.
8. AT and T have a system called SuperBook, which they would be willing to demonstrate - although it is very expensive at $50,000 for a license.
9. Mathematical symbols are often a problem - the lastest versions of Framemaker have support for both Hypertext and Maths symbols - this system seems to be developing a following among mathematicians.
Additionally, there are some useful conversion utilities ...
Latex -> HTML (from Nikos Drakos at Leeds)
Texinfo -> HTML
Framemaker -> HTML
which can be obtained from various sources.
I believe that both NoteCards and MetaCard are worth looking at - but in our case the fact that they need to be bought counts against them.
I am currently doing a lot of work with HTML and Mosaic - this seems a reasonable compromise between being easy to use, learn and obtain, and also it is essentially free.
I hope this helps you.
[good pointers, but nothing ready out of the box for handing to our profs 8-)]
---------------------------------------- From: email@example.com (James Vlcek) Message-Id: <9310132302.AA05439@epimbe.com>
I suggest that you get in contact with the people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Project Athena, or whatever it has evolved into. MIT's Project Athena began life about ten years ago as an effort to bring courseware to the MIT computer network. The medium of choice was Unix workstations from DEC and IBM, the software BSD4.3.
After a few years, everyone realized how difficult it is to create good courseware! But I think they have made significant progress in the past few years.
How to get in contact? MIT's switchboard number is 617-253-1000; you could ask for Project Athena or Information Services, either one can probably help you.
[We have a brand-new installation of the DECathena stuff in our Computing Center, so I guess I'll have a closer look at it]
From: Debbie McGlade <firstname.lastname@example.org> Message-Id: <9310252001.AA01024@peace.larc.nasa.gov>
For teaching, (as in actual classes) you may want to look at Xtv. It should be available for anonymous ftp from MIT.
-- PI at the User Help Desk Comp.Center U of Stuttgart, FRG 26 years to go ! EMail: email@example.com fon ++49 711 685-4828 (aka Kurt Jaeger)
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