AContent Author Handbook
Use the Search field to find learning content in the AContent Repository, or choose from the Categories to browse the list of lessons available in each category. In the lessons that appear in Search Results or by browsing, click on a lesson title to view the lesson, or click on the download icon to export the lesson as a standard IMS Content Package.
Unzip Content Packages then click on the index.html file to view the content on your local computer.
Content packages, in their zipped state, can be imported into systems that support the IMS Content Packaging standard.
In order for a user to login to AContent and create content, manage translations, or administer the system, a unique account needs to be created. Use the Register link to access the registration form. If email-confirmation has been enabled by the system administrator, a message will be sent to the email address entered containing a link that must be followed to confirm the new account. Once this has been done, the login name or email address, and the password entered during registration can be used to Login.
In addition to searching, downloading, and viewing content, available to non-registered users, a basic account allows users to add lessons to their account, and store them as bookmarks for future reference.
When registering, you can also request authoring privileges by choosing I would like to author content. Additional personal information is required when registering as an author, so content is properly attributed to an author. When the system's administrator has approved your author request, the Create Lesson tab will appear, which leads to the AContent authoring tools.
A user may login to AContent with their Login Name or Email address, and the Password created during registration. Logging in gives users access to the bookmark feature for Regular users, and to the authoring tools for Author users.
If you have forgotten your password, follow the Forgot your password? link on the Login screen. The form will email the login name to you, along with a link you must follow to change your password.
Once you have registered an account on the system, a Profile is created. You may modify the information associated with your profile, though you may not change your Login name, or the generated Web Service ID. If you are requesting a content authoring account, you must provide additional information about who you are so content is properly attributed to an author.
Web Service ID
The Web Service ID is a unique identifier that can be used to link other systems with AContent through its Web Services. This ID will be useful for developers creating systems that access AContent Web Services, or to administrators of learning management systems who wish to link AContent into their LMS. ATutor administrators can enter the Web Service ID of any user in the AContent system, into the AContent Setup screen to link the repository into their ATutor system. See the Web Service API, linked from the footer area of AContent for more about developing an interface to the system.
This page allows users to change passwords. The form authenticates users by checking their old password first, and then setting a new password and typing it again.
This page allows users to change email addresses.
There are two ways to create a lesson, manually by defining course properties, and automatically by importing an existing IMS Content Package or IMS Common Cartridge.
Manual Create Lesson
Follow the "Create Lesson" link on the Create Lesson screen. Fill out the Lesson Properties screen then save. You will be directed into the lesson, after which you can add folders and content pages to the lesson.
If you have an existing lesson, either created in ATutor, or created in another system that generates content packages or common cartridges, you can either upload the zipped file, or you can enter the URL to its location on the Web to import it. Once imported, use the content editing tools to modify the content.
While developing content it is advisable to select the "Hide lesson from other users" checkbox. Once the lesson is ready for public viewing, change the setting in the lesson properties.
While viewing any folder of page in a lesson, click on the Lesson Properties icon () to modify the following:
- Title: Write a few words to provide a short description of the lesson content.
- Category Name: Select from the available content categories, the one that best categorizes your lesson. If the category you need is not present, choose Uncategorized, or suggest a new category to the system's administrator.
- Primary Language: Choose from the available languages, the one your lesson is written in. Available languages are based on the languages installed on the system. To have additional languages installed, talk to your system administrator.
- Description: This a longer description of the lesson, expanding on the description in the title.
- Optional Copyright Notice: Write a copyright notice to appear at the bottom of each page in the lesson.
- Hide Lesson: Select this checkbox if you want to prevent others from searching or viewing the lesson. This might be enabled while a lesson is being created, then disabled when a lesson is ready for distribution.
Manage Tests & Surveys
AContent provides tools for developing assessments to accompany content. Tests can also be created in a lesson space, then exported out in IMS QTI 1.2 format for importing into other systems that support the QTI standard. Question banks can also be created, authoring questions and exporting them as a batch of questions independent of any test.
Tests and questions can also be imported from other systems that produce QTI conformant tests or question banks, then associated with lesson content, later to be exported as part of a common cartridge.
Test Manager Tools
When tests exist for a lesson, they will be listed on the opening screen of Tests & surveys, along with tools for managing the test. If no test appear, use Create Tests/Surveys to add one.
- Edit: Choose the radio button next to a listed test, then press the Edit button to modify the test's title and description.
- Preview: Select the radio button next to a listed test to open it and preview how it will appear to learners.
- Questions: Select the radio button for a test, then press the Questions button to add or modify the questions associated with that test. If questions do not yet exist, go to the Question Bank to create or import questions before adding them to a test.
- Delete: Choosing a radio button next to a test, then pressing Delete removes the test from the system, but not the questions that may have been associated with that test.
- Export: Selecting a test then pressing Export, generates a QTI 1.2 test package for download and importing into other systems.
Creating a test begins by assigning a title to the test, and an optional description, which may include test instructions. Once these are written, save the test before adding questions to it. See Tests & Surveys for more about adding questions to a test, previewing, and editing tests.
Editing a test is much the same as Creating a test. See Create Tests/ Surveys for more about editing tests.
Add Question to a Test
After selecting a test from the main Test & Survey screen and pressing the Questions button to list the questions associated with that test, click on the Add Questions tab above to open the Question Bank. Either choose a category of questions to add to the test, or choose individual questions, then press Add to Test/Survey to add the questions. You will be redirected back to the question list for that test, at which time you must assign mark values to each question (unless you are creating a survey in which case questions have no mark value).
The Question Bank is where questions are created or imported before being associated with a test. You may want to create Question Categories to add questions to before creating questions. Each question includes a space for defining optional feedback. Feedback appears with a marked test explaining the correct answers. Question types supported include:
- Likert (survey questions): Choose from existing likert scales to populate a question, or define a custom scale of your own. Custom scales are added to the presets for future reuse. Define a question, then include at least two choices to create a survey question.
- Matching (graphical): Images and other graphical content that has been uploaded into the File Manager can be inserted into a graphical matching question. Click on the Editor link beside each question item to open the visual editor and File Manager to prepare the item, then press the Paste button to copy the HTML of the question item over to the question's textarea.
- Matching (simple): Much like graphical matching questions, though in this case only text is used to define questions and answers.
- Multiple Answer: These questions ask learners to choose at least one response to a question, but maybe more, choosing a number of checkboxes associated with multiple answers to the question. When creating a multiple answer question, check the Correct Answer checkbox beside each of the choices that are correct. These questions are only marked correct if learners choose all the correct answers when responding to the question.
- Multiple Choice: Much like Multiple Answer, though these questions ask learners to select only one correct answer. When creating the question, choose one Crrect Answer radio button.
- Open Ended (word, paragraph, page responses): These questions generally ask learners to supply an free form answer by typing in a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or a page as their response. When creating the question, choose from the four formats to include a text area of appropriate size for the type of open ended response required.
- Ordering: Create items to be ordered in the question in the incorrect order. When displayed to learners, items in the question are presented in the order they were created.
- True or False: Write a statement for the question, then select whether that statement is true or false.
Before creating questions it may be helpful to create a number of categories into which questions can be grouped. Categories might be as simple as "questions for test 1" so when the questions are to be added to the test, you may choose the category to have all the question added, instead of choosing questions one by one. Categories might also be used to define difficulty level, or perhaps topic area. Categories can define any type of grouping for questions.
Create and Edit Content
There are many ways content might be assembled into a lesson. Generally, content is created by adding folders to contain the content, and adding pages to folders on which the content is displayed. There are a variety of tools available to add folders and pages to a lesson. These tools are described below. The tools that appear at any given time, depend on context.
- Follow the Export Content icon to generate an IMS Content Package of the current page. Note, to export an entire lesson, use the export tools next to a lesson listing on your AContent home page, as either a content package or a common cartridge.
- Follow the Edit This Page icon to open the content editor for editing the page you are viewing.
- Follow the Add Structure icon to add a learning object structure to a lesson. Structures include such things as a goals page, a lesson overview, an assessment, or an activity for example. Some pages within a lesson structure are mandatory and cannot be deleted, while others are optional.
- Follow the Add Sibling Folder icon to add a folder at the same level in the content you are current located.
- Follow the Add Sub Folder icon to add a sub folder to a folder you currently have open.
- Follow the Add Sibling Page icon to add a content page at the same level in the content you are currently located.
- Follow the Add Sub Page icon while a folder is open, to add a content page into the folder.
- Follow the Delete This Page icon while viewing a folder or a content page, to delete it. If you delete a folder, all of the pages and folders it contains will also be deleted.
- Follow the Lesson Properties icon to modify various characteristics of the lesson being viewed including its title, category, language, description, copyright notice, and whether it is hidden or viewable by others.
- Follow the Arrange Content icon to move folders and pages around within a lesson.
- Follow the Delete This Lesson icon to completely remove the lesson and all its content from the system.
- Follow the Exit Lesson icon to leave the lesson area and return to your AContent home page.
The Content Editor
The Content Editor is use the create content for a lesson. It include a number of tabs across the top, and a number of tools for working with your content.
- Content: This is where most content development
will occur. To create a content page, enter a title, choose the format,
and add some content to the body area.
- Plain Text: Simply type into the body area. Text is displayed without any formatting
- HTML: When selected, the visual editor is displayed in the body area. Type or paste your text into the visual editor, then use the various tools to format the text with headings, colour, layout, and other formatting features. Note the first button in the visual editor is used to toggle between simple and advanced modes.
- Web Link: This option allows you to enter a URL to an external Web page, and have is display as part of the lesson content.
- Theme: When enabled by the AContent system administrator, a Theme can be selected to apply a graphic design to the content. When an author edits the content, by using the Theme tab in the content editor, he/she can select and apply graphic elements to a page. Such elements are implemented as CSS rules, setting, for instance, font-size, font-family, foreground and background colors, borders, italic and/or bold style, text alignment and so on, to be added to the page cascading over the default graphic design provided by the LCMS. A Theme can be applied to a single content page or to an entire lesson.
- Template: When enabled by the AContent system administrator, authors can use the Template tab to format the organization of content on a page. Page templates are much like predefined page organizations in word processing applications. The author can select the page organization from a set of predefined templates, then add or edit content in and around the chosen page organizations. Each page template is an HTML fragment, structured in conformance with HTML standards.
- Meta-data: Associate keywords with the content page to make it easy to find when searched. Duplicate key words from the content to raise the ranking of the page when those keywords are searched, enter synonyms of words in the content, or enter words that otherwise describe aspects of the content on that page such as grade level, language, or perhaps audience.
- Adapted Content: To accommodate a diverse population of learners, authors can include adaptations of their original content to make it more accessible to a broad range of people. For example, include a text or audio equivalent of an image or other visual content to make the content more accessible to blind or low vision learners. Add a sign language alternative for text or audio content to better accommodate deaf learners. Or, include an audio alternative for text to accommodate people with learning of reading disabilities. When the Adapted Content tab is opened, it scans through the content of the page being edited and identifies any associated resource files and lists them as Original Resources. First select the appropriate checkbox to define the original resource type, either auditory, textual, or visual. Then click on the Add buttons in the Alternatives columns, and select files from the File Manager to add as an alternative for the original resource. Upload the files if necessary, and click Use As Alternative to associate it as an equivalent for the original resource.
- Tests: Choose from the available tests you've either imported or created, to associate them with the content page.
Content Editor Tools
- Use the Preview tool to open the content you are currently editing to view it before saving.
- Opening the Accessibility tool will evaluate your content for compliance with various international accessibility guidelines using the AChecker Web service. Note that there is also a smaller accessibility icon in the visual editor that performs the same function.
- Use the Paste tool to upload HTML files that you have created in an external HTML editor. These must be full HTML pages. Note that there is also a Paste from Word tool in the visual editor itself that can be used to take DOC files and convert them into ATutor content pages.
- Use the File tool to open the File Manager. Upload files into the file manager that are linked into your content, then use the Insert button beside a file to insert a link to it in your content page.
Edit Content Folder
To create or edit a content folder, click on the edit icon () or add folder icon(), then simply edit a title for the folder. Keep folder titles as short as possible.
While viewing content in a lesson, click on the Arrange Content icon () to move pages and folders around within that lesson. To move an item, select the radio button next to it, then use the before icon () to move the selected item before another item, use the after icon () to move an item after another item, or use the child of icon () to move an item into a folder.
All the import and export content tools can be found in one place by following the Import/Export Content icon () while viewing any page or folder in a lesson.
- In the Export section in the upper area of the screen select the portion of the lesson the export from the What to export menu. By default the entire lesson is exported.
- Select the format to export, either an IMS Content Package, or an IMS Common Cartridge. The format you want to export will depend on the formats supported by the system you'll be importing the content into. Content packages include only the folders and content pages within a lesson. Common cartridges include that same content, but will also include tests and forum activities if they have been created for the content.
- Choose to export the AccessForAll (AFA) adapted content with either the content package or common cartridge you export. AFA content will often include alternative formats for original content that gets presented to learners based on their personal preferences set in the system the content is imported into. For example, a blind person might chose to have text alternatives displayed instead of images, and a deaf person might choose to have sign language replace audio content.
- Use the Import Into to select the position within the existing content of a lesson to place the imported package or cartridge.
- Choose to import available tests and AFA content by selecting the checkboxes by each.
- Upload the zipped package or cartridge to import it. Note, that you may choose to import packages or cartridge that do not validate (vary from the standard). In some cases this is fine, but be aware that importing invalid content can create problems, such as introducing damaging files that have been included with content by malicious users, or content that is not recorded in the package or cartridge manifest may become orphaned when the content is delete, left behind as files no longer used but taking up space.
- or, type the URL to a package or cartridge to import it directly from its location on the Web.
Edit Content Folder/Page
Click on the delete folder/page icon () to remove a folder and all its sub folders and pages. Click "yes" to confirm the deletion.
The File Manager is where all the files associated with a lesson are uploaded and stored. It can be accessed from various places throughout the authoring environment so files can be added or associated with content or tests where needed. Main access to the File Manager is through the tab across the top of the screen while inside the authoring area. Popup file managers are available through the test question editors, and from the main content editor screen.
Use the Create Folder text field to create folders into which you can sort files for the lesson.
Use Create a New File to open the visual editor and create a new HTML file.
Use Upload Files to select files from your local computer to add to a lesson. You may prefer to zip the files together before uploading, upload the zip file, then unzip that file once it is on the server. Note that illegal files will not be unzipped, nor can you upload such files. Illegal files are those that can potentially create security problems. These file types are defined by the system's administrator and can be adjusted if you need to upload one of these file types. Most content file types can be added to lessons, and most executable files are restricted.