We have an existing adult learning curriculum that contains a book, some handouts, and some PDF slideshows that are delivered on CD. The slide shows contain a majority of the curriculum content. While trying to provide the slideshows in the moodle course I realized that I cannot control the way the PDFs are presented. They are viewed in the browser with a plug-in, Reader or Acrobat (different versions), Preview (Mac) or whatever. The slide navigation buttons may or may not work. It depends on how the user has their browser set to handle PDFs.
So my first thought was to package all of the coursework PDFs into a zip file that the student could download and view later with version of Reader that we recommend.
This has the advantage of us being able to use our content in its current state. The disadvantages are that the student is leaving moodle to view coursework, different levels of user computer skills (where did I save that file to?), tech support (what's a PDF?).
Another method would be to recreate the PDF slideshows in flash so they could be delivered within the course web page. The student stays within the moodle site, and has no files to manage. This would be quite the adventure for us though, as we have 60 presentations of up to 25 slides each, containing text, graphics and audio.
Maybe we use the PDFs now, but migrate to Flash in the future.
So the question goes to is PDF valid in moodle pedagogy? Do you think its OK for the short term (6 mo. to 1 year) that PDF as a large portion of the coursework be viewed offline, while using moodle to add value to the course? Or would it be better to hold off on moodle course creation until we can get our stuff in to flash so it can be embedded into the course?
What would you do? I am interested in any comments or thoughts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
That said, I believe Moodle adds tremendous value by virtue of allowing us to collect resources for particular topics within courses together, presenting them in a logical order, giving students a place to upload assignments, take quizzes and allowing students to interact with us and with each other. It's the ease with which I can get students into class and interacting that is important. I don't give any intro to the courseware, and most of the adult learners do fine first time out. If I were you I would be slightly less concerned about the pdf vs Flash, and more about how best to organize and make accessible the material for a variety of learning styles while taking advantage of the interactivity Moodle has to offer.
Demographic info: I work at a graduate school in the US. Moodle was actively selected by the faculty as the courseware for our classes. We have ~ 5 classes completely online and more on the way, all other classes are face to face with varying levels of Moodle use (repository, communication,etc). We are struggling with online pedagogy for our more advanced classes which include student presentations and group projects. While we are technologically rich, we don't have lots of experience in online education.
FlashPaper lets you create SWF or PDF files from any type of printable document. You can view FlashPaper documents across platforms and retain the formatting, graphics, fonts, special characters, and colors of source documents, regardless of the application and platform used to create the document. For example, if you created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on a Windows XP computer, you can use FlashPaper to convert it to a SWF file, and then send it to a Macintosh user.
The SWF files that FlashPaper generates are in the same format as those generated by Macromedia Flash. FlashPaper SWF files are typically much smaller than other document types, and you can view them in any browser that supports Flash, or you can view them directly in Macromedia Flash Player. Because you can embed a FlashPaper SWF file in a web page, you can publish file types that most people can’t easily view on the web today, such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, and even QuarkXPress and AutoCAD. When a user opens your web page, the FlashPaper SWF file opens instantly, so that the user can view the file without leaving the web page.
FlashPaper documents (in both SWF and PDF formats) also work well as standalone files. Anyone who has FlashPlayer installed on their computer can view FlashPaper SWF files, and anyone who has Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on their computer can view PDF files.As to whether you should provide the files in Flash or PDF, I have gotten good results by putting the most reliabe, user-friendly format online and providing a link to an alternative format for interested users. From the same location, I often provide a link to a printer-friendly PDF file, set to open in a separate window.
I work in a medical center where we have a wide variety of different desktops, from Mac OS 9 and OS X to Windows 98, NT, and XP. We also support a variety of browsers: Safari, Netscape, IE, Firefox, and Opera. As you pointed out, Flash is a more reliable method of viewing content online than PDF. This agrees with my experience; more of the users I support have trouble with Adobe Acrobat than Flash.
We are in a corporate environment. We are in about month 6 of implementing and using Moodle.
We chose to migrate everything “as is” in the beginning. Now we work on new product releases as they happen and between new releases we go back to re-record and freshen up the older sessions. Some of the older sessions were 1.5 hours long, so we are also breaking them down into 10 or 15 minute segments. We also post the approximate duration for the entire course and each individual topic so students can plan their time.
For new releases, I might create the session in PowerPoint with presenter’s notes and then import the slides into Adobe Captivate. Then I record audio on a per slide basis and publish it as a flash file. You can easily add media controls to the file while publishing. Additionally there may be a Product Bulletin PDF and or User Guide that I would post in the same location as the product introduction.
I use another product by TechSmith that is called Camtasia. With this product you can play the slide show and capture the video and audio (with the right hardware setup). Then publish it as a wmv or flash file. The only downside here is a 30-minute video takes 30 minutes to capture. To republish that same 30-minute video as a wmv or swf on a Dual Core processor with 2 GB RAM is another 25 minutes.
We added a system test (pass\fail) to the login page and links to the latest Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Windows Media Player should their system fail one of these checks.