By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education
Interested in creating simple, interactive e-learning content? Meet Oppia, Google’s new open source tool that allows anyone to create basic, free, interactive learning experiences in an easy to use web-based environment.
Google’s approach sounds exciting and is likely to foster open learning and collaborative authoring: “No trial periods, no freemium plans, no advertisements. Writing, editing, or learning from explorations on oppia.org is 100% free of charge! Additionally, all lessons on oppia.org are licensed CC-BY-SA, which means that you are allowed to copy, modify, and reuse lesson content. Want to host an Oppia instance yourself, or make modifications to it? The code behind oppia.org is licensed under the Apache License 2.0.”
The web environment features a gallery with — at this point — a fairly limited number of brief interactive lessons. The content comprises quizzes, images, text and videos. What I like about the lessons that I have seen so far is that they follow an exploratory “storytelling approach.” Starting with a simple scenario, they encourage learners to try and guess, rather than drill and practice, the correct solution.
Here is an example that introduces the concept of declination in latin.
Figuring out the authoring part of Oppia was a lot more challenging. As far as I can tell at this point, one can create new lessons by copying and editing existing content. Lessons, which are called “explorations,” are initially private, that is, they can only be viewed by the author and invited users. Once an author decides to publish, the exploration achieves “beta status” and is retrievable by anyone. To be featured in the lesson gallery, the learning unit has to be approved by moderators.
Unfortunately, the only interactive experience I gained was watching the “Loading” message on the otherwise blank screen for several minutes. On a sunny note, this probably signals a large interest from the educational technology community :-)
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