Xerte 3 is now released – what’s new & why should you upgrade?

July 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm

You may have seen via various channels that Xerte 3 is now out of beta and officially available for production use. You may also have read about some of the new features and/or seen the release notes and/or seen the video embedded below.  But simply put:

This is a must-have Xerte upgrade and obviously it’s free and open source so isn’t subject to the licence costs often attached to upgrading commercial software.

First a quick animated video snapshot of some of the benefits before further comment:

Those of us who have been developing this release and testing and using it at the same time over a period of months have all echoed the same reflection:

Once you’ve used this Xerte version you’ll find the old version, if you still have to use it for some reason, very frustrating!

Now obviously Xerte has been very popular, effective, flexible and powerful even before this release but the new WYSIWYG editor in particular, but also some of the other new affordances potentially at least bring this to a whole new level!

The official release notes outline some of the new features and benefits but until you use it for yourself it might seem like some of these new features are minimal improvements. Indeed some are very simple, although very useful, tweaks and as always we have listened to community feedback, responded to common requests and along the way added some brand new features too. The point to remember here is that our core values remain the same:

1. To maintain the ease of use – for anyone and everyone yet also providing a powerful tool for developers
2. To maintain the high level of built-in accessibility – for everyone not just for screen reader users
3. To continue to foster and support a positive community – which as you may know is mature and well established and growing all the time

Despite all this I often find that those with a learning technologist role, or specialist developer role, or similar variation, can sometimes be a barrier to wider Xerte adoption. The point is if you have the time and expertise there are a myriad of other free and commercial authoring tools you can use as part of your workflow and toolkit, (I use them too)  but it doesn’t have to be either/or – you can use Xerte together with those other tools. More importantly what about everyone else in your organisation?

Where Xerte really plays it’s part is as an authoring tool for everyone – for all staff and all students! That’s simply not viable with most, if not all, of the commercial tools currently popular in some organisations.

Here’s a Pecha Kucha presentation that I used at an East Midlands Learning Technologists Group meeting recently that expands on this key message further. Play the audio on the first page and the presentation should self-run and self-navigate:


The info and resources linked above should make the benefits of this new bigger and better Xerte very clear, but to summarise:

This really is a must-have upgrade!

If you already use Xerte you should be banging on the door of whoever looks after your installation and prompting them to upgrade.

If you don’t currently use Xerte or have explored and dismissed it previously – now is the time to look again and to really look on behalf of the staff and learners you work with too!

Suffice to say if you’re interested in any kind of Xerte support there is free support via our various community channels and there is direct consultancy support available too! 😉



Slideshow/Presentation tools – Example 1 Haiku Deck

February 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Over the last few months I’ve been using a number of different tools for creating and delivering presentations – partly to introduce training sessions and partly to demonstrate a range of tools and support those attending the training to consider when and how they might use the tools themselves. I plan to add a range of examples here over then next few blog posts beginning with these examples created with http://haikudeck.com which is now both a mobile app and a web app. The great thing about the tool is how easy it is for non-specialists to create extremely professional looking presentations and either deliver those via haikudeck.com or embed in a blog or vle etc or indeed export in various formats including PDF or PowerPoint for continued editing. Here’s a couple of simple examples that I’ve used recently:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Of course as you may know I’m a regular Xerte user and like most online tools Haiku Deck presentations can easily be embedded within your Xerte LO’s.

More examples to follow.

Xerte training for Health Science students

October 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

ron-smI delivered a very short Xerte Training session for some Health Science students at Newman University in Birmingham yesterday. (1st Oct 2013)

@BobRidgeStearn tweeted during the session and took the photo opposite. You can view related blog postings via their blog, including a post about what we covered yesterday and a previous post about the project.

Although we also scheduled an afternoon session with some of the staff at Newman, including Bob and some of his team, my main prep was to update some of my existing Xerte LO’s and some new LO’s to provide a wide range of guidance which I could use during the sessions but also which would work as self-access resources after the sessions and for the students in particular. As the student session was so short (and even shorter after one or two technical issues) I wanted to share some short but clear and important tips that I think are essential in creating effective learning resources and activities with Xerte. You can view one of the LO’s I used via the screenshot below. Please note the copyright info.


Conferencing and collaboration via iPads

January 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I’ve been supporting some college in the East Midlands on an LSIS project which is really all about their respective Moodle developments but they also wanted to be able to create relevant training material using iPads and more importantly to conference and collaborate remotely outside of their f2f meetings from and between iPads. So a relatively unique challenge – but there are one or two options for hosting online meetings direct from an iPads and obviously lots of options for content creation and we explored these during training I delivered recently.

In prep for the training I also decided it was worth creating a Xerte learning object purely with HTML 5 consumption in mind and very much optimised for iPad consumption. As such the ebedded and linked LO below is an example that won’t work correctly via the alternative Flash Xerte player and demonstrates some of the extra benefits of the new HTML 5 playback. Of course it’s viewable on any HTML 5 compatible device not just iPads but I’ve used layout options and image size optimised for iPad portrait viewing.

View the conferencing and collaboration LO in a new window via this link >> or the embedded version below:

Since the training session we have had further discussions and have lots planned in advance of the LSIS dissemination event in Birmingham on 5th Feb. Watch this space for further news and hopefully see some of you at the event!

Xerte & XOT Update

November 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Last week I was due to deliver a guest speaker slot at a JISC RSC Eastern Learning Resources Manager Forum providing a Xerte Update. Most members of the forum had heard of Xerte and some of their organisations were using it but even so this was to be a general overview and update including latest news and developments etc. I decided to use the opportunity to test the latest Xenith/HTML 5 developments by creating LO’s that for the most part worked via both Flash and HTML5. The theory was that I would use the Flash player to present with but share the HTML5 links with the group to those same LO’s.

Note: development of both XOT and the Xenith code changes daily (indeed hourly on most days) at the moment so not all the pages or functionality included below will work 100% at the moment and some of these LO’s will work better via Flash or via a larger window. However this blog post is also to demonstrate that multiple multi-page LO’s can be embedded in a web/blog page or indeed a VLE page etc and hopefully work well on a wide range of mobile devices. Consider this a test and I’ll be updating this post or adding new posts as developments progress. Hopefully XOT 1.9 will be released by mid December – watch out for news via http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xerte/ or Twitter etc

The heading of this blog post could easily have been Xerte on iPad Updated because although the iOS apps that I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts are still useful we now have the results of the Xenith developments integrated with XOT to make development for and consumption on mobile devices much much easier!

Here’s the various LO’s I used, or at least prepared for the RSCE session, which I’ll be keeping up-to-date as developments progress.

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version

Link to the Flash version | Link to the HTML5 version