Sunday, August 31, 2008

Celtx screenwriting software for e-learning

Recently a friend in the mass media asked for advice on preparing documents for presentation to executive management. They asked if they should use Powerpoint or Microsoft word. But perhaps something like the Celtx free screenwriting software is needed. This might also be useful for conference presentations and e-learning.

Celtx is designed for writing plays for stage, screenplays for movies and TV, AV scripts and radio plays. It allows setting out who says what and what is seen and heard. It also allows the creation of an animated storyboard, which is used to give an idea of that the final production will be like. This is conceptually similar to an animated Powerpoint presentation: the software steps through still visuals with text and audio explaining what is happening.

Celtx has versioning and collaboration features using a central server, conceptually similar to the Integrated Content Environment (ICE) courseware tool. A seminar or lecture partly involves giving a performance, and so it might be interesting to consider how the techniques used for live performances might be applied to academia and education.

E-learning can include audio, animation or video. But much of the audiovisual material produced for education has low production values and looks clumsy when compared to professional multimedia the students will have seen. This is partly due to the limited funds and time available for producing education content. But it may also be because educators are not provided with tools or training needed for audio-visual production (I did a course at TAFE to make education videos). Perhaps tools like Celtx could be used and integrated into other e-learning tools.

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