The Reading Matrix
Vol. 1, No. 1, April 2001

Macromedia CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver 4.0
Reviewed by Walid Sabbagh

Title:

Macromedia CourseBuilder Extension for Dreamweaver 4.0

Publisher:

Macromedia
Tel: (800)-457-1774
http://www.macromedia.com

Platform:

Windows 95/98 or NT version 4.0, 2000* or later

Minimum hardware requirements:

Minimum requirement to use with Dreamweaver
32 MB of available RAM
20 MB of available hard disk (PC)
256-color monitor capable of 800 x 600 resolution (PC)†††††
CD-ROM drive

Support Offered:

http://www.macromedia.com/support/

Price:

Free with purchase ofMacromedia Dreamweaver 4 (which is usually $299)

The growth of interest in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and the greater availability of language learning software has led to more flexibility in terms of what practitioners can do in the language classroom. No longer are we limited by technology, but in fact we can now ask which technology is best suited to do what is needed. The limiting factor is no longer the technology; it's our ability to re-think our teaching to take maximum advantage of the existing tools. This is both empowering for teachers, but can also be somewhat intimidating as well. Such an endeavor necessitates an understanding of the capabilities, drawbacks and benefits of different technology options. Above all, it calls for creative thinking about pedagogical aims and methods.

One of the areas being explored by practitioners is web interactivity. Web interactivity can range from the simple (animated gifs, scrolling messages) to the complex (Java-based intelligent tutoring). Using a powerful programming language like Java permits creation of anything doable with traditional, stand-alone authoring systems, plus additional network-based applications. But that power does mean a very steep learning curve. Fortunately, there are less demanding options. One of these is Macromedia CourseBuilder Extension for Dreamweaver.

The CourseBuilder Extension for Dreamweaver 4 enables users to quickly create compelling Web-based instructional content that works across multiple platforms and browsers. The CourseBuilder Extension includes:

  • A gallery of over 40 pre-built interactions such as multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, fill-in-the blank and more.
  • A visual manager for creating complex logic and interactivity without having to know JavaScript.
  • Training videos and books
CourseBuilder Extension enables teachers to create interactive Web pages with engaging Web-based learning content and deliver them across multiple platforms and browsers. Interactions let you define complete Web-based learning components such as multiple-choice questions and drag and drop. Step by step instructions assist the user in creating and editing basic interactions. A built-in wizard enables the user to create editable HTML, DHTML, and JavaScript based on the information that is entered. CourseBuilder extension allows a developer customize each interaction to their specific studentsí needs.

Figure 1: Multiple Choice Wizard

Figure 2: Drag and Drop Wizard

From the different tabs of each interaction, the developer can customize the interaction with their own questions and answers as well as provide customized feedback given to the student if a correct or incorrect response is selected. Each CourseBuilder interaction can also be customized through the tabbed fields of the interaction to limit the number of tries given to the user, to set a time limit for the interaction, or to set a score for correct answers in the interaction.

The Action Manager is a visual interface for creating engaging interactivity and sophisticated logic for Web applications. It allows the user to create interactions that judge user responses, track a student's movements on the screen, time out a question, or respond to an interaction with any number of multimedia or logic-based responses. The Action Manager allows the to build complex logic to create scenarios that engage users with a high level of interactivity.

Figure 3: Action Manager used to create sophisticated logic for web applications.

Another advantage of using the CourseBuilder extension is that it includes Knowledge Track which allows a teacher or non-programmer to easily keep track of the students' scores or interactions. Knowledge track can be used to keep track of the following:

  • The number of right and wrong target responses a user has made.
  • The number of tries the user took to get the right answer.
  • The amount of time it took the user to respond to an interaction.
  • The amount of time the user spent in an interaction.
  • The amount of time remaining if there was a time limit on an interaction.
  • The score for an interaction.

CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver will assist teachers in utilzing Dreamweaver's capabilities for integrating Web media into HTML pages. This Web media may be content created in Flash or Director, graphics optimized by Fireworks, or streaming video using third-party plug-ins. As the possibilities for transferring rich-media over the Web continue to expand, the flexibility and the independence afforded by the Authorware development and delivery environment make it one of the most ideal tools for integrating rich media into a CD or Web delivered learning type application.