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courses materials; so digitalization of existing courseware was accomplished by
technical staff. Present generation systems have advanced several steps in automatic
publishing. Yet domain experts — especially in the Humanities area — are seldom
able to create online courses autonomously without technical support. They do
not feel comfortable with HTML, XML, database, standards and so on. But they
increasingly want to control the result of course publishing, in terms of structure
and of interface. Today’s challenge is the direct development of original didactic
content by domain experts, with some or no technical knowledge. We think it is not
the author who has to adapt himself to platform requirements (language, dimension,
articulation), but the authoring tool that has to build a bridge between author and
platform. We should provide authors with authoring tools especially designed for
them. This means not only an easy-to-use application, but one that respects their
cognitive styles, their pedagogical beliefs, their document structuring habits.
Technology has to be as transparent as possible, and act as an empowering tool, not
as a limit. These ideas are largely shared; although, not many platforms have their
own authoring tool, and, if so, rarely are they designed bearing in mind the typical
author, who normally has no technical expertise, or his/her everyday work-needs.
This paper describes the main design choices that led us to develop ADA Lesson
Generator, over a seven-year period, from a research tool for drawing conceptual
maps to an e-learning authoring tool that allows authors to visually create non-linear
complex structures, to control the way students can navigate in it and to manage the
«life» of a course from its ﬁrst version to all subsequent releases
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