The production phase is the real writing, formatting, re-formatting, pedagogical enriching phase. Graphics are drawn, videos are selected, adapted or sub-titled, tests are programmed, and the main content is authored or edited (re-developed) to the required format.
In this unit we only go in details of the production of HTML text, that can be produced directly in an HTML editor or can be created from an already authored traditional text, that is formatted for printing (most commonly in word format).
a.) Authoring and formatting directly in the HTML Editor
This method is the quickest one for smaller content. We open a HTML editor in our Learning management system by adding the appropriate type of <resource>. This method is good for general content that is less than one traditional page (say 1000 characters), that is called microcontent. Using this method we have to carefully followe the format and structure that was developed earlier. Before each heading and paragraph we have to set heading type, or font formatting settings. We advise to print out the prepared template to follow the content structure and the formatting rules. Contra: This manual formatting is very vulnerable (we may miss the appropriate format time to time), and it also becomes very slow in case of longer content. This method is also lacking of reliable versioning and independent archiving of the content, and that may become a quality issue.
More on microcontent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcontent
b.) Formatting existing manuscripts edited for printing
It is a very typical development task when we already have a core text to start with, that was authored earlier. Those „traditional” print formats are very rich of:
- long hierarchy of heading systems
- different emphasizing techniques
- multi-level listing
- special positioning of different graphics in the text.
- header and footer system with section breaks.
- system of footnotes
- cover, copyright and Table of contents page
- forced page breaks and paragraph alignment to fulfil page layout requirements.
Most of these formatting have to be adapted, or eliminated.
c.) Formatting directly in the HTML editor
The first simple method of formatting those texts is to directly format them in the HTML editor of our Learning management system.
- We have to print out the designed template and check if all original styles can be set in the re-developed HTML template - most of the times it is not the case.
- We have to plan a “conversion” of the non existing formats.
Let us take the headings as an example. In many manuscripts there is at least four or five level heading system, while in HTML format (and most importantly in responsive HTML format) we advise you not to have more than three levels of headings.
Regarding the numbering only traditional digital textbooks need numbering, otherwise it might be a bit rigid. Most important requirement In numbering the most important requirement is to stay coherent:
1. Module ; 1.1 Unit; 1.1.1 Unit sub-title etc.
Or: Module 1, Unit 1, Sub-title 1
- We have to select between two options depending on the length and complexity of manuscript:
- In case of a smaller text we copy and paste the pure, unformatted headings and paragraphs separately while making sure that the copied piece is not holding any formatting. We follow the procedures of direct authoring (case a) ).
- In case of a longer text, we convert a plain text version of the manuscript and paste it in the editor box. We follow then the text paragraph by paragraph and we adjust the formatting upon our already print template and style conversion table.
d.) Formatting with an already designed template in a word processor
This method is almost the best in case of longer, complex textbooks if we do not have independent industry standard HTML Editor
- We have to copy the already designed specific document template (.dot) file to the place where other .dot files are stored.
- We have to open a new text file based on this template (New file… choose this template) or just simply open the .document template file and immediately rename it to the appropriate name.
- We have to try to adjust your text editor so that we can see the designed styles either on the menu bar or as a side bar.
- In case of authoring from scratch, first we select the desired style from the style bar, or menu bar, for example “Module title”, then we start typing the title itself. (If it is done later, we have to highlight all the text and adjust the style later, which can be more time consuming.)
Note: Some styles are set for one paragraph, and after the enter you find yourself at another style, while other styles are staying switched on. For example body-text style stays body-text all the time, while Lesson title becomes body-text after typing the lesson title (we guess that this is the most frequent sequence). Some other styles (Head types) are followed by the same type body: When we set Activity head, and type the Title of our activity, after pushing the <enter> the style becomes Activity body and we can start typing the content of the activity. After having finished the activity, we have to set Body style for the next part of the module.
- If we are adapting an already written text-part, we suggest you to insert the text as “plain text” without any former formatting. We can do a simple Copy + Paste and before doing anything there is a dropdown menu at the end of the inserted text and we can choose unformatted text. (With bigger cohort of text we insert the whole body in word and then we “save as” pure .txt file. That is a sure way to kill all formatting, tables, lists, automatic numbering...)
- The formatted document have to be exported to the LMS HTML environment either by direct document -> HTML conversion (Save as) or with the help of a professional HTLM Editor (See next part).
e.) Formatting with the use of a professional HTML Editor
This last method is the best method if we have
- independent professional editor,
- staff for professional web editing,
- large and complex content to be edited in HTML format, or if
- our HTML content is produced for business or business-like use for large audience.
As this method requires the involvement of a professional web-editor person, we do not discuss this method here as our editor will guide us how to collaborate with them to reach the required HTML content, that will be uploaded directly to our Learning management system.
f.) Formatting using different style than the LMS
If your learning material has a section that you would like to emphasize visually (like objectives, learning time, interactions, graphics, etc.) then you can define HTML Cascading Style Sheets both ways: inline or embedded (or external). We suggest to use the embedded form, because it is easier to modify and manage changes in one place. It is also possible to reference this css in the LMS and than to use in all of your learning materials.
g.) Formatting in responsive environment
As it was mentioned in the Planning part, in case of responsive themes even more reduced formatting is required. Therefore the above mentioned template driven methods should converge to an even more simplified content style, meaning less headings, less text formatting, smaller paragraphs, and smaller video and image embedment.
Next: Final (Draft) production
Previous: Development phase