What is it?
Xerte Online Toolkits (or Xerte, usually pronounced Zertee) is an interactive content creation tool for making web-based learning objects, without the need for programming skills. The University has its own installation of this software which is available for staff and students to use. A learning object is a digital resource consisting of a collection of content and activity, with a clear educational purpose.
The software was created and developed by the University of Nottingham and below you can see example content showing the various page types that can be used. Use the arrows in the bottom right of the object to navigate through the pages.
How might I use it?
Xerte provides you with the opportunity of delivering content online for self-study or revision purposes. Self-contained digital resources are often used to provide instruction in commonly taught concepts or skills. Additionally Xerte can be used for student content-creation where, for example, students could prepare a resource to teach others what they have learned.
Xerte is a content authoring tool that lets you bring together different types of material in order to present information on a topic. You can include text, images, video, audio as well as embed web pages or web widgets. In addition to you can add activities which allow the viewer to interact with the content.
- Reflective Writing Resource for students at the University of Bath
- Moodle Course Management Resource for staff at the University of Bath
- Social Media training for Faculty of Engineering & Design staff at the University of Bath
- MANTRA - managing digital data in a research project, various examples created in Xerte by the University of Edinburgh
- Future Teacher 3.0 - online webinar session (Working with Rich Media 3 - Video) delivered using Xerte
- Communicating Online - Open University branded use of Xerte
- Critical Appraisal of Clinical Trials in Dermatology University of Nottingham
How do staff and students use it effectively?
Staff and students can create an account, in the Bath version of Xerte, by logging in with their University username and password. Once a user is logged in they have access to an editor which lets them create learning objects by adding pages of content (text, images, videos etc.) and interactivity (quizzes, drag and drop, timelines etc.). The final object is published onto a University web server which allows it to be linked to via its URL (web address)or embedded into another webpage (using an iframe embed code) such as Moodle or Mahara.
- Learning objects should deal with a single educational problem to solve or issue to learn.
- Content should be updated as necessary, for example checking web links still work (e.g. YouTube videos).
- Information should be 'chunked' into small pieces of learning, as too much content could make it difficult for learners to reach the end.
- Staff can collaborate on the creation of a learning object.
- Learners can also collaborate on the creation of a learning object.
- Learners can share their creations, learning from each other.
What are the pros & cons?
- Built with accessibility in mind
- The majority of page types are easy to follow
- There are in-built 'themes' to change the display - including a Theme Bath version
- A common text editor is used to create content, including font-awesome icons and theme based formatting
- There are variety of page types and templates including a bootstrap template that produces a responsive website
- Learning objects can be worked on collaboratively or shared
- Content can be responsive which makes it possible to view content on different devices (such as tablets and smartphones)
- Content can be viewed online or exported for offline viewing or it can be embedded into other web tools such as Moodle or Mahara
- Learning objects can be reused or repurposed for additional uses in different courses or different disciplines
- The newest version of Xerte relies on users understanding how to use the accessibility tools of modern browsers
- Some page types may require training to use fully - please contact the TEL team
- The themes available may not suit you and you may need to use an additional tool such as Xhibit to develop the theme you want
Using Xerte for an Online Literature Searching resource
Project: Philip Shields, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Hilary Cooksley, Subject Librarian and Yvonne Moore, Faculty Learning Technologist.
This project involved staff collaboration in the production of an online version of a series of 'literature searching' sessions which would normally be delivered face-to-face. Using Xerte (and Re:View) the sessions are delivered online, attempting to engage with students about literature searching and review.
Dr Philip Shields organises the Final Year Project for the BEng and MEng undergraduate programmes that occur during Semester 2, where students complete a project that includes a review of scientific and technical literature. Previously, Philip arranged for the subject librarian to deliver sessions on effective literature searching in Semester 1 to allow enthusiastic students to get ahead. However, finding the optimum time was difficult and as a result many students chose not to attend these sessions. Given the importance of the subject, a different approach was required so it was decided the best solution would be to create an online version of library sessions. This was implemented by bringing together the subject librarian and a faculty learning technologist.
The purpose of the online learning object, was that it would cover the necessary guidance about carrying out an effective literature search, whilst also providing activities for students to practice. The object was embedded in Moodle and conditional settings applied so that the project submission was only opened to students once they had view the learning objects and completed a quiz.
Xerte was used to create the online version as it allowed the video screencasts, created by the librarian, to be packaged with some student activities. The videos were uploaded to Re:view so that they would stream from there when the learning object is accessed. This keeps the file sizes suitable small so they load quickly. The original resource eventually became five parts in order to make the material more accessible.
The lessons learned from the this project:
- Once the face-to-face sessions were broken into distinct video demonstrations it became clear that it would be beneficial to 'chunk' the material into smaller objects.
- Sometimes the features or functions of Xerte mean the material may need adapting in order enable learners to achieve the same learning outcome.
- Collaboration on the same Xerte object is possible but was sometimes difficult if more than one person tries to work on the project at the same time.
A significant number of students viewed the online resources. Although this did tail off as the students worked through parts 1 to 5, this could demonstrate that students accessed the parts they felt most useful to them. Philip included a question in the Moodle quiz he created which asked students for their views of the content of this material and the majority were very positive.
The Instructional Use of Learning Objects,
Allison Littlejohn and John Cook, Learning objects and repositories, ALT Wiki http://wiki.alt.ac.uk/index.php/Learning_objects_and_repositories ,
Hockings, C., Brett, P., & Terentjevs, M. (2012). Making a difference-inclusive learning and teaching in higher education through open educational resources. Distance Education, 33(2), 237-252. Retrieved from
Grimaldi PJ, Basu Mallick D, Waters AE, Baraniuk RG (2019) Do open educational resources improve student learning? Implications of the accesshypothesis.PLoSONE 14(3):e0212508.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.021250. Retrieved from https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/journal.pone_.0212508.pdf