About Courseworker

Courseworker is a Cloud-based production service for course developers. It produces interactive and content rich courses efficiently. It is ideal for producing large volumes of online professional sets of course materials and updating them regularly. It can be used to publish print and online learning materials quickly and easily.

Courseworker is an efficient single-source publishing solution that delivers the benefits of using XML for learning materials content. It contains automated XML publishing tools and offers you a path into open standards adoption for content. It provides a standard course design to get-started with, that has been proven to be effective by CAPDM for successful online distance learning. This design includes 4 core course components:

Topics – interactive pages of content that can be structured into individual study items and delivered as Topics in online (HTML), PDF and ePUB formats.

Resources – a collection of articles that can be published individually in print and online formats for reference reading and use.

Assessments – interactive questions and answers that are turned into online quizzes or generated as a PDF or ePub booklet.

Manifest – a packaging mechanism for creating a complete course and all its components.

Components can be produced or used individually as products in their own right, or combined together into a course package for loading into your learning delivery system.

What does it do?

Courseworker provides quick start templates and tools to get course developers producing high quality courses quickly. It even provides a basic RTF/ODT to XML converter, to aid the capture of large volumes of word processor content into Docbook XML for populating the templates with content.

Course developers edit and maintain the component templates as XML source files held locally on their personal computers. When ready they upload them and all associated graphics and media files, into the Courseworker repository. Each component can then be automatically processed by Courseworker’s individual production tools to produce the different print, screen and portable versions of the course materials needed. These tools typically take seconds to generate the exact formats needed for different print, screen and eReading deliveries.

Courseworker also provides the ability to immediately view packaged courses in-situ in Moodle – either by using the in-built Quality Assurance view, or by uploading the packages into your own learning management system instance. This offers course developers a rapid development and review mechanism, speeding up course development time.

Courses can be regularly re-visited and efficiently updated from Courseworker. By changing only the single-master sources for each course component, and re-running the automated publishing tools, new versions can be produced more reliably since it removes much of the need to hand edit page links, numbers, figure, table and index references.

What are the benefits?

Courseworker is a Cloud service, and brings you all the benefits you expect from Cloud computing – easy to access and get started; standards based for common use and reuse; resource sharing to lower costs; no up-front capital equipment expenditure and regular hassle free updating.

Courseworker allows you to centralise your course production in a single production service for all your print, online and eReading needs. You can keep copies of all of your materials locally and up in the Amazon EC2 Cloud space that Courseworker uses.

It is an ideal way to invest in using open standards XML and avoiding vendor lock-in or proprietary formats and authoring tools. The Docbook standard chosen for use in Courseworker is ideal for course mark-up, and the extensions we have made to Docbook for you to use add further semantic meaning to the sources making them even more valuable and reusable.

Courseworker’s automated production tools are fast, allowing you to save time by generating hundreds of interlinked web pages in seconds, and to typeset substantial course books in minutes – all from the same efficiently maintained single-master source.

Courseworker produced courses are usually of much better quality too, being more consistent and much less plagued by broken links and missing content items.

The professional quality typesetting engine provided by Courseworker uses TeX to lay out pages consistently to a high standard of stylistic quality.

What is the cost?

Courseworker is first used to produce a trial online module with you for a fixed cost quote, that includes affordable options for further use and in-house adoption. Customer references can also be provided for existing Courseworker customers.

How do I get it?

  1. Send us an email at courseworker@capdm.com or give us a call. We’ll then get in touch for a chat.
  2. If you don’t have any experience of XML, think about downloading and trialing an XML Editor for a free test period, from the many available (see the FAQs for a list of the ones we use).
  3. Use your supplied Courseworker login, and work through the sample materials we provide there.
  4. After that, simply download the XML template files, follow the instructions and get developing.

What XML Schemas (document definitions) does Courseworker use?

The XML Topics and Resources we provide are tagged using a subset of Docbook 5.1 elements according to our cut-down schema of about 50 common Docbook elements. We have found for ourselves, that this helps to reduce the potential of un-supported tag combinations that sometimes arise when complex XML schemas are used differently by different developers.

Assessment questions and answers are tagged using our own simple question and answer schema called UQF, which is optimised for rapid uptake and easy provision of rich assessments. The XML Manifest schema is also simple and specific for the purpose of structuring course home pages in your delivery system. All schemas are provided openly as part of the Courseworker service.

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