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 PLQ Improvement Initiative
ACAT – ARMY COURSE AUTHORING TOOL

ACAT is the new software product that designers within G3 Trg Dev DLP, CTC Gagetown, have created and implemented for the development of their electronic courseware.. With the introduction of SCORM and the concept of sharable content, development of a better system for creating standardized and shareable courseware became a high priority. ACAT allows instructors to create and reuse learning objects and then bundle the Learning Objects into new courses. The courses can then be accessed through the repository or exported as a stand-alone or SCORM package. ACAT separates the content from the presentation allowing for maximum reuse without branding throughout CTC. The branding occurs in the presentation.

CAT Tool
The two main components to the software are the SCOBuilder and the SCOBundler. SCOBuilder provides an intuitive interface that is easily used to create sharable content objects (SCOs) in English, French, or bilingual formats. Using simple text entry and file selection tools, SCOBuilder will allow instructors to create and edit dynamic courseware that includes text, photographs, pop-up notes, electronic references, Flash animations, and video files, as well as providing fully automated navigation, print functions, and language selection. 

The instructor inputs his content and an XML file is created. The Learning Object is saved in the repository, and can be exported as a stand alone product or a SCORM compliant package for use on a LMS. A special Macromedia Flash player, referred to as a “skin,” is used to review or present the content. A series of skins have been developed that can read the content within the XML files and then simply present it in a different fashion. (For example, the same SCO file can be used to display course content on either a desktop computer or a PDA.) Additionally, skins can be “personalized” for each School/course, so that even if the same content file were to be used, the skin would present the content with the appropriate logos, colours, format, etc. 
Once a Learning Object (LO) has been completed, the entire LO, or its elements down to the teaching point level, can be accessed for use in other courses or LOs. Additionally, a LO can be exported from SCOBuilder, and the XML file and all of the associated asset files will be copied to a designated target folder, ensuring that all of the content required to conduct the training remains in tact as a stand-alone courseware set or SCORM complient package for a LMS. 

SCOBundler groups a collection of LOs from the repository, and allows the instructor to form DL courses simply by selecting the LOs to be utilized and putting them in the required course structure. Using SCOBundler, instructors will be able to create a course welcome page, a course module menu structure, section welcome pages, and a section menu, and then insert all selected teaching points for their course. The tool will automatically resolve all of the navigation and format issues for presentation as a course, and by exporting will collect all of the associated XML and asset files so that the course can them be delivered via the selected medium (ie CD-ROM, CBT, WBT, SCORM, etc). 

ACAT relies on a Content Repository to access common content, and its assets to create and edit learning objects in the development of new courses. The CTC Content Repository currently contains a growing pool of Learning Objects, photos, graphics, and animations that instructors are able to use in the creation of new learning objects and courses. 

SCORM compliancy is the newest addition to ACAT. A SCORM export has been developed to allow for SCORM compliant development. A section of the ATOC has been tested and it made a comfortable migration to the DLN. 

CTC has been working with the schools to migrate current and new courses in this format. The Tactics Schools ATOC has been converted from English only html to a bilingual XML format and is currently getting minor additions to make it fully SCORM compliant. With little effort, the Infantry School has been able to access and use about 60% of the ATOC’s learning objects to create their own course, which has greatly accelerated the development of their DP4 courseware. 

The ACAT promises to dramatically reduce overall development time as well as putting a powerful yet easy to use authoring tool in the hands of the Subject Matter Expert (SME.) The instructors working with it have successfully made the transition and have all started developing learning objects within our repository. Good courseware design and the ACAT will allow schools to develop DL products that will not only be re-useable but will also allow for rapid creation and ease of editing with little to no technical trsining/background. The ACAT therefore represents a significant move forward in the Armys overall DL initiative.


For More information, feel free to contact Dan Daigle:
· Phone: 506-422-2000 extension 2029;
· CSN: 432-2029; or
· E-mail: daigle.dd@forces.gc.ca

  Date Updated : 2004-11-12 Haut / Top Important Notices