LodeStar 7 Lite is the first complete redesign of LodeStar since LodeStar 1.0 appeared in the fall of 2001. At that time we envisioned a system that could adapt easily to java applets, Flash, eBooks and whatever new technology came along. The initial design lived up to its promise. When HTML 5 became all the rage in 2011, LodeStar easily moved in the direction of full HTML 5 support.
But we also added many features that were not well integrated into the initial design. Vector graphics editing and the interactive graphic are two examples. Vector graphics editing requires launching a specialized editor. Making a graphic interactive requires an author knowing which menus to select and what parameters to change. The features are there, but are not intuitive. They seem like add-on’s to the initial design.
Compounding our dissatisfaction with the original design is the need to integrate new feature requests. For example, from Normandale College, we received the request to display pages and their branches in an interactive visual.
We also received requests for accessibility on the authoring side as well as mobile authoring and web-based authoring. These were difficult to achieve through the original design.
The design of LodeStar 7 stems from our experience of 12 years and learning what faculty really care about. We have insight into what aspects of LodeStar faculty truly love and what aspects are less important. We have a laser focus on the features that really make a difference and, as a result, have better integrated them into the product. Features that have become important and that were added subsequent to the original design will now be first class citizens in the product.
When LodeStar 7 Lite is released in late fall of 2013, it will not have all of the rich features that are present in LodeStar 6.7. The HTML editor, for example, will be simpler. The ability to draw vector graphics will be missing. Spell checking will be missing.
In future releases, LodeStar 7 will slowly migrate from a lite version to a full featured version. The missing features will be more tightly integrated with the product and will result in a better authoring experience.
Early releases of LodeStar 7 will be made available to our Facebook followers in early to mid fall. Please follow us at https://www.facebook.com/LodeStarLearn Early releases will become available free of charge to our Facebook community.
LodeStar 7 Lite relies on your good word of mouth. Rather than expending energy and resources on product marketing, we will continue to build upon the new design and hope for good word of mouth to announce its availability. The full-featured version of LodeStar 7 will be primarily marketed by RiverTown Communications when it becomes available.
Please follow our developments on Facebook and help us spread the message that LodeStar 7 Lite is coming this fall. We will be noticeably absent from the Minnesota eLearning Summit next week – but please assure your colleagues that a new release is on the horizon.
As always, I am deeply committed to this work. My guiding principle has been to make it easy for faculty to employ a variety of strategies that support learning outcomes.
We hope that LodeStar 7 makes it easy for faculty to deepen their tool chest of effective online learning strategies. I’ll look forward to your feedback on Facebook.