On the Eve of a Major Release

For those of you who have stumbled upon this journal entry, our web journal is dedicated to instructional design and how the LodeStar authoring tool supports instructors in that endeavor.

Our firm belief is that, with the right tool set and training, instructors can remain the authors and orchestrators of highly engaging and effective online learning experiences for their students.

The LodeStar authoring tool enables instructors to create interactive learning objects for a variety of learning environments including all major learning management systems (e.g. Desire2Learn, Moodle, Blackboard) Curriki, eFolioWorld, MyEfolio, and any website to which an instructor has access.


I am excited to report that the latest version of LodeStar is about to be released:  LodeStar 7 Lite.  Over the course of LodeStar’s twelve-year history, I’ve observed how instructors interact with authoring tools and where some of the stumbling points lie.

I have also recognized where LodeStar can’t compete.  Some tools offer decent screen capture; and others do a good job with PowerPoint conversion.  Some tools offer the full expressiveness of a powerful programming language but without the complexity.  ZebraZapps is an example.

Instructors need multiple tools, however.  LodeStar complements the best tools found in academia.  The future of LodeStar lies in its ability to offer instructors a rich range of engaging strategies and ease of use.  When instructors wish to create, for example,  an interactive, simulated interview in which students must make key decisions based on their content knowledge, LodeStar should be the tool of choice.

LodeStar7 was a complete re-visioning of that value proposition. For years we glued on features and sometimes left the instructor behind.  LodeStar 6.7 had a powerful vector graphics drawing capability that supported drag and drop and click/touch interactivity for all devices.  But unless instructors were specifically trained, they didn’t tap into the richness of LodeStar 6.7’s ability.

LodeStar 7 changes that.  LodeStar 7 Lite pares away  features  and re-introduces them in a more integrated, intuitive manner.  Not all of the features will be immediately available in LodeStar 7 Lite.  Spell check is missing. Drawing is missing.  But, in time, those features will return.  In the near future, drawing and interactive graphics will be a first-class citizen of the tool, not an add-on.

LodeStar 7 Lite is currently in alpha testing.  The first workshop is scheduled for the end of October.  If all goes according to schedule, it will then make its debut in a statewide webinar in November and be featured at the Minnesota Government IT Symposium in December.

The missing features will hopefully be repatriated by the conclusion of February.  Then the focus will be on creating insanely brilliant templates that instructors will absolutely love.

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview of some of LodeStar 7 Lite’s  features.

 HTML5 templates picked from an easy-to-use template viewer

LodeStar Template Viewer

HTML Editor cleanly separated from page and layout management and other navigational controls

Quick access Layout Manager offers a broad range of options

LodeStar eLearning Authoring tool Layout Manager

LodeStar eLearning Authoring tool Layout Manager

Built in previewer that avoids issues with security

LodeStar Built in Previewer

LodeStar Built in Previewer

Full HTML5 audio support

Audio Importer

Audio Importer

Full Embed support with the ability to play back in the editor

Embed Support in an eLearning Authoring Tool

Embed Support in an eLearning Authoring Tool

Extremely simple Export

LodeStar exports to any SCORM 1.3 (SCORM 2004 release 3) Learning Management System

LodeStar exports to any SCORM 1.3 (SCORM 2004 release 3) Learning Management System