Competition for Flash?

Flash is amazing. I use it to create interactive learning objects and online lectures. The only problem is that I have to use “cheater” programs like Swish http://www.swishzone.com/index.php or Camtasia http://techsmith.com/camtasia.asp to get the results that I want. Yesterday I sat down and attempted to put together a simple self-graded, multiple choice quiz in Flash. I even tried using a template, but gave up after about a half hour. I ended up using Hot Potatoes http://hotpot.uvic.ca/, a nice free software package that allows the creation of multiple choice quizzes, crossword puzzles, etc. The program is a little bit limited (and it uses Java), but you can’t beat the price.

In my search for a better option, I came across a Microsoft product to be released in Fall 07 that has the *potential* to fill a void in my course development toolbox. The official propaganda states, “Grava is the code name for a new set of tools from Microsoft’s Education Products Group that is designed to allow the education community to create and assemble materials that will increase discovery and allow learners to go at their own pace and learning style.” http://www.connect.microsoft.com/Grava. It looks like the tool is an easy-to-use learning object maker. The interface looks pretty slick. A potential drawback is that a “Grava” player must be downloaded to use the stuff you make. Neat stuff.

Darren Crone
Darren is a sarcastic, odd, bald man with a very dry sense of humor. He originally hails from Albany, N.Y., but claims Charleston, S.C. as his hometown.He joined the Air Force soon after graduating high school. This decision was made because a) working as a busboy wasn’t quite cutting it, and b) he had zero desire to ever attend college. While in the Air Force, he traveled the world as a Combat Cameraman, documenting both natural and man made disasters in places such as Thailand, Namibia, Armenia, Germany, Panama, Italy, Croatia, Japan, Singapore, and probably more than a few places that have changed names since you began reading this bio. There are many stories about his travels locked away in a vault somewhere and it is said that Samuel Adams holds the key.

While in the Air Force, he was given the opportunity to attend a year-long Video Journalism program at Syracuse University. Much to his amazement, he found that higher education didn’t suck at all. Having been bitten by the education bug, he completed his BS and MA in education and training from Southern Illinois University and Webster University respectively. He then completed his doctorate in instructional technology and distance education form Nova Southeastern University.

Darren currently works as an Instructional Designer at The University of Texas at Dallas and enjoys spending time with his wife, children, dogs and fish. His hobbies include weight training, watching the Texas Rangers (yes, really), and trying to appear smarter than he really is.

One thought on “Competition for Flash?

  1. Matt Crosslin

    I wonder why Microsoft chose to create a new plug-in and system to do this, when they could have used existing formats to get it done? Well, because they are Microsoft….

    I like the idea of this, but I wonder if it is going to be that good in the end. If you have to have the plug-in to play it, will that plug-in work with older browsers? There is a good chance it won’t and therefore will be useless to most browsers used in schools today.

    I really hope that SVG would take off soon. That could replace graphics and Flash with a searchable replacement (SVG uses XML to author graphics AND animation, as well as add tags to the end product that can be searched).

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