To all e-learning heroes....make this educational dream a reality!

Hello Course/LMS experts,

We really hope someone in this community could help with their expertise and insight for this great cause. We are three preschool educators in and wish to develop a free online language courses for preschool kids in North Africa and middle East ages 4-6. The Arabic courses will be developed in Flash, comprising of animation and interactive clicking by the users.

This language program comprises 10 levels, each level is 10 courses, each course is 10 lessons. This would take the child through a number of activities, moving them from phonemic recognition to being able to read simple sentences and short preschool stories. A cartoon character would introduce lessons at each course followed by a number of activities for the child to practice that lesson.

Tablets are not common in that part of the world so shared desktop available at kindergarten would work for this model. We are looking for an application where the interface of the courses would be similar to abcmouse.com or readingeggs.com. It's for kids and we want the user interface to be fully customized and branded for a child's learning environment. 

Once a parent/teacher logs in, they can register more than 1 child, take a placement test (which is a series of multiple choice questions on reading and phonics). The result would put them at an specific corresponding level. Subsequent level would be locked until the child finishes the level he is placed at. Child can collect stars with each level they finish.

Somewhere on screen parent and child, can see number of star they have collected, which level they are at etc. We are also thinking of a theme, so we want the home page to look like a country farm. This would allow the children to move around the farm clicking on the barn, take a hay ride, visit corn field, chicken coop...etc. Each place representing a lesson or a level.

I could go on with ideas, but I don't want my imagination carry me for long as I need to be realistic with what the type of program or application limitation we will end up using. Elements we think we will need are:

1- Website

2- Adobe Flash movies lessons

3- LMS (course author-ware...we don't know where to start)

4- Tool that would allow us to see user interaction with lessons...we don't know where to start)

5- Server to host lesson modules

6- Application that would bring all these elements together...Again we don't know where to start)

7- Anything else we are missing?

We would greatly appreciate experts in this community to point us to a program(s) that's would meet these requirements, that's also simple to use, and not very expensive to buy and maintain.

Thanks a million everyone.

7 Replies
Bob S

Hi Sid,

What a wonderful dream. And as the saying goes... If you are going to dream, then dream big!

 If I understand your post correctly, you are looking at creating a total of 1,000 lessons.  Then each lesson would have several activities for the child to practice that lesson/topic.

So all told you are talking about SEVERAL THOUSAND learning interactions....

Not trying to discourage your group of three in any way, but the sheer scale of such an endeavor is titanic by any measure. I'm thinking that authoring tool choice and a server are pretty far down the list in terms of challenges you are going to face!

You said "not very expensive", so I'm not sure if you were thinking the three of you would do all this yourselves.

If that's the case, what's your timeline?

Just managing that kind of  scope would require full time project management role(s). Then there are review cycles, consistency/continuity checking, user testing, etc etc etc.....  to say nothing of the actual content creation and authoring/coding.

Once the high-level ID is done, characters created, scenery built, interfaces designed, tracking/scoring system worked out, testing/pre-testing methodology worked through, and all the other stuff needed before you can start authoring, you are probably talking several months of full time work.

Then the fun begins.... If the three of you can dedicate yourselves 100% full time to this endeavor, and each of you can create 3 learning interactions/ week (quite aggressive over the long haul), you are looking at....   8 years?    (9/week x 50 week x 8 years = 3600 learning activities)

Add in everything else and you are looking at more than 10 years to complete!!!

Now here's the heartbreaking part... because of that long a creative timeline, technology will have moved forward. Is Flash still viable? Do the browser requirements your learning interactions need still exist? Are the tracking/reporting protocols still supported?

I am so sorry, and truly not trying to rain on your exceptionally wonderful and noble endeavor. But my best advice is to reconsider the scope of your efforts, or reach out for some serious funding/resources to help shrink the timelines considerably. Perhaps you three create the characters and framework, then manage the project while you crowd-source the interactions. Maybe have people sign-up to create various lessons based off of a creative package/template you send them.  I'm sure there are some ways to make this wonderful dream come true... but maybe a creative project approach is more important here than the particular tools/servers you are going to need.

I sincerely hope this helps. And kudos to you for wanting to do something so grand!

Rebekah Massmann

In light of the previous poster, just off the top of my head, here are a few ideas.

**Start looking into grant programs, hiring a grant writer

**Look to build a network of designers/developers looking to build their portfolios and willing to work pro bono (does anyone know if you can write off something like this?)

**Build a template or framework structure for the lessons. Maybe you don't need several thousand unique interactions. There are lots of templates in the community that could give you a start. Maybe you guys design the template and look for volunteer designers/developers to plug in content.

I will preface my comments about authorware by saying that I think you need a broader project plan (including budget) before you start buying software or an LMS. You don't want to create something that you aren't able to distribute or aren't able to finish. If you get to that point, though, what you choose depends on the level of expertise of your team (if you 3 will be the ones working in it). Obviously Articulate has Studio and Storyline which are very user friendly in my opinion, even to novice users. The technical support is off the charts, which will be invaluable to a small, underfunded (I assume) team like you have. 

However, there are companies out there (Adobe, for example) that offer educational/non-profit licenses at a significant discount, so that would be something to look into. I'm not aware if Articulate offers any discounts.

Good luck!

Sid Wagag

First off thanks to all of you (Bob S, Nicholas, Rebeka) for having taken the time to respond.

 We are trying to keep the project manageable and timelines realistic. We have developed the full curriculum already, and know exactly what the learning outcomes are for each level. We also know what activities we are running for each lesson. The activities are repeated over each lessons, with slight variations as the child progresses through the levels.

We have a couple of volunteer interns who are helping us develop the flash lessons, and wnd we would like to launch a prototype with 5 levels only. The other half can come at a later phase. We want to have the site fully functional by August  2014.

So, all we need at this time is an online interface (program, software, application or whatever that is called) to bring these lessons together, connect one level to the next, one lesson to the next, and one activity within each lesson to the one that follows. Once a child takes the online placement, program will automatically put them in the right level. They can view and take lesson below that level if they wish, but not the lesson above. They would be locked until they successfully finish current level.

Rebeka mentioned Articulate, story line. I am not familiar with these programs, but would be open to explore as long as they give me the child same experience as readingeggs.com and abcmouse.com...with lots of flexibility on the visual and graphic interface that would appeal to a child.

Again....thanks all for your input and help with insight

Bob S

Hi Sid,

As to your specific question... neither readingeggs nor abcmouse appear to be build with on a traditional LMS (learning management system) type platform. Instead they appear to be purpose-built websites.  You are probably going to want to engage some web design expertise.

By the way, I notice that abcmouse.com has over 100 dedicated artists, designers, developers, composers, etc to create and maintain it's 450 lessons and 3,000 learning interactions. Impressive looking operation for sure.

http://www.abcmouse.com/about-us#advisory_board

Nick n/a

Sid,

''It's for kids and we want the user interface to be fully customized and branded for a child's learning environment.''

Who has evaluated that it is suitable for a child's learning environment at ages 4-6 using a desktop PC?

Are you using the language program to either support children in their learning of Arabic and reinforce their learning or use it as a viable alternative to actual Arabic speaking teachers in the kindergarten.

I'd be interested to know the numbers of children in each class in the kindergartens who would be accessing this language program and how long each child would use it for.

Do the parents of the children have desktop computers at home or not?

Thank you kindly.

Nicholas

Sid Wagag

All good questions, Nicholas,

The curriculum developed for this age group has tested and approved by a committee of educators. Was it tested online in an interactive setting? No. We are not aware of any similar program for Arabic. But we are following the same models and best practice that proved to work for similar programs in English language for this age group.

 The language program is just to supplement what these kids are already learning in traditional school settings. Only few kindergartens have access to desktops, but the use of computers is becoming increasingly common in homes.

Parents are important partners in this model, as they'll required to login, oriented their child through the initial lessons, and monitor their progress.