imageMany secondary schools I visit are busy creating comprehensive libraries of content to support their students' learning. This content is often shared across a learning platform of some kind. It’s not really my field of expertise, being a primary school teacher, so I admit that am not fully aware of the processes and the tools that are being used. But as I have seen plenty of resources created in PowerPoint and Flash, I wanted to draw your attention to a free application from Microsoft Learning. The Learning Content Development System (LCDS) is a free tool that enables you to create high-quality, interactive, online courses. You can then publish those e-learning courses by completing the easy-to-use forms that seamlessly generate highly-customized content, interactive activities, quizzes, games, assessments, animations, demos, and other multimedia.

image Creating a course in LCDS couldn’t be easier. When you start the application, you are presented with a simple course module structure. You can add and delete elements as you wish. Clicking on the title of each part of the course, you are able to select a template from which you can build that specific piece of content.

image

In this example, we are going to make a multiple choice question based on the Innovative Teachers Network.  In this case, questions and answers, along with feedback are entered into the template, this is then saved. When the course is run, this question looks like this.image

This is a very simple template, but there are a range to choose from that allow you to combine text, video, and Flash files. Others will generate simple animated sort and tile games. Some really interesting templates allow you to create interactive thinking skills activities, such as an adventure game and drag and drop activities.

This application allows all teachers to create online courses and revision materials for their students. It is very simple to learn and requires no programming or media authoring skills. The generated course is SCORM compliant and compatible with Internet Explorer 8 and Silverlight. It is also available as a number of files that can be compressed and downloaded as single file to be shared over network. You can see some examples of courses created using the LCDS here. They are all ICT focused , but give you a good idea of what is achievable. A great example is Microsoft’s Digital Literacy course, which was created using this application.

I introduced LCDS to our award winning teachers at the UK Innovative Teachers Forum, and we had some great feedback from them. They could see this being a valuable tool for schools and suggested some other uses of this application, including allowing students to create their own courses and revision materials for each other. Another great suggestion was that in many schools the use of YouTube is blocked by the local authority, rendering some great resources are inaccessible. By downloading a YouTube video and building some activities around it using the LCDS, the video and its associated work can be made available to students.

If you are considering or currently developing content for your students and are looking for tools to allow you to do that, then the Learning Content Development System is a great application to start with.