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This is the first in many blog entries trying to share what I had the opportunity to learn today visiting Northside ISD’s Moodle team. I’m grateful to the following folks for hosting my team and I in learning about Moodle…and reminding me how much more I have to learn:

  • Lori Jones, Director, Integrated Infrastructure Services
  • Joyce Stevens, Director, Instructional Technology
  • Amanda Hefner, Moodle Maven (yes, I made that title up but it’s no less accurate)
  • Lisa Gerlich, Moodle Tech Support
  • Alex de la Pena, Moodle Tech Support
  • Lorraine Traiwick (not present)

What’s amazing about this team is that they plan and work together…a combination that is NOT present in other school districts where one team often works independent of the other. Kudos to NISD for developing this culture of teamwork and collaboration!

One of the amazing things they shared with me was Xertes, a course content creator tool that integrates well with Moodle. Apparently, it enables non-techie end users to develop SCORM modules for free. Xertes can be used to build a lesson that includes a wide variety of activities, such as puzzles, diagrams…one of the examples Amanda Hefner shared with me was the creation of a diagram of a frog where all the parts need to be labelled. As such, Xertes is a content development tool that is server based and requires login via LDAP.

An equivalent, but costly, alternative to Xertes is SoftChalk. SoftChalk describes itself in this way, and I share that here because it might be helpful for users to understand what these course content creation tools can do:

  • Create interactive web pages for your e-learning course…It’s easy, quick, and your lessons will look like a professional designer created them.
  • Engage your students with lessons that include pop-up text annotations, self-assessment quizzes, and interactive learning games.
  • Package your lessons for delivery via CD-ROM, Intranet, Internet, or integrate with your LMS (Learning Management System).

Alex De la Pena pointed out that it’s important to build a walled garden, to bring the “cloud” inside. He mentioned that the biggest liability is that while you can contract out to 3rd party vendors for the work, you can’t contract out the criminal liability. It was a fascinating point to hear him make.

I’ll definitely be exploring these tools further, especially Xertes.

Installing Xertes is pretty easy on XAMPP:

Download the software. You can install Xerte Online Toolkits on a standalone computer, or a web server.

Download Xerte Toolkits v1.0.

Installation for Local Installation

A brief tutorial showing how to install Xerte Online Toolkits on a standalone computer can be seen here: XAMPP Installation

Download and install XAMPP accepting the default settings, from

Download Xerte Online Toolkits from

Unzip the folder ‘xertetoolkits’ to c:\xampp\htdocs\, giving you c:\xampp\htdocs\xertetoolkits Start Apache and MySQL in XAMPP control panel.

Visit http://localhost/xertetoolkits/setup Click the XAMPP button.

Are you using Xertes in your Moodle environment?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure