We have written about StudyMate a good deal (see
49, and more).
an authoring tool that allows professors to create
10 different Flash-based activities and games (Fact
Cards, Flash Cards, Fill-in-the-Blank activities,
Matching, Multiple Choice quizzes, Crossword
puzzles, a Jeopardy-like "Challenge" game, etc.)
using four simple templates. The Flash activities
can be placed on any web server or can be published
directly to your Blackboard courses. StudyMate will
import items from MS Word files or the Respondus
Test Bank Network, making it easy to create
interesting, interactive activities from existing
content. Version 2 of the product was new last
December, which added a new question template
(calculated questions, supporting many math
functions and any number of variables), embedded
audio in mp3 or wav format, and output for the small
screen (i.e., the iPod, PSP, smart phone, PDA, etc.
- see our article "Flashcards
on the iPod,").
To get a feel for these activities,
click here to see them in action on a web page.
This is a very plain web page, but it can be dressed
up in any way you wish.
Any Palomar instructor may login to our
StudyMate distribution point (using their
Palomar login credentials - email address as
username, email password as password) and
download/install/register the program on their own
PC, at work and/or at home. The number of PCs
on which it can legally be installed is not limited,
but note that it is ONLY for PC, not the Mac,
Available for training we have a PDF
User's Guide (78 pages) and a PDF
Quick Start Guide, a set of
demo movies, and various
How-to guides. On the whole, StudyMate is
indeed very easy to use. The only thing that
becomes slightly confusing is how to publish your
StudyMate activities to Blackboard. There are
two ways to do it. I will describe both below.
Method 1: Creating a Zip File and "Unpackaging"
It In Blackboard
After you have input or imported your StudyMate
terms and questions, you will click the Publish tab
and enter the Publish Wizard. On the initial
Publish Wizard screen you will choose the types of
activities you want StudyMate to generate:
Make your selections and click Next.
Now you will see a screen asking you how you want
to publish or export the Flash learning object.
Choose HTML + SWF.
On the next screen, enter a title for your HTML
page, optional text or instructions, a save
location, and choose whether to launch the file in a
browser after publishing.
Note that clicking the "Save As..." button on
this screen does NOT do the actual save, but simply
defines a Save location and file name for the
resulting saved files. When you first begin
using StudyMate you will probably want to place a
check in the "Launch HTML file automatically..." box
to see how your work comes out. Once you grow
familiar with the program, however, you will not
bother with this.
Now click Finish. A "creating activities
for small screen devices" dialog will appear (if you
made this choice) and in a moment the files will
have been saved to the location you chose.
If you chose to save files for small screen
devices, 5 objects will have been saved:
- An HTML file, which acts as the index to all
activities and download files. It will be
activites, named "projectname.js."
- A Shockwave file which are the actual Flash
activities, named "projectname.swf."
- A zipped folder containing the 320x240
images for larger screen devices, like the video
iPod, named "projectname_L.zip."
- Another zipped folder containing the 176x132
images for smaller screen devices, like the iPod
Nano, named "projectname_S.zip.
"Projectname," of course is whatever name you
have given to your project. Note that it
cannot contain punctuation, special characters or
Now, select all of these files (click on each one
while holding down the control key).
Right-click your selection, with your cursor over
the html file. Hover your cursor over "Send
To," and select "Compressed (zipped) Folder."
The resulting folder will be named "projectname.zip."
This will contain all the other folders and files,
and is the only folder you need for the rest of this
Now, login to Blackboard. Enter your course
and enter the content area where you wish to place
these activities. Click "Edit View" in the
upper right of the screen, and then click Add Item.
On the Add item screen, give your item a name
(required) and type any instructions you wish.
In the Content area of this page, browse to your zip
file, give it a link name, and choose "Unpackage
this file" from the Special Action drop-down.
Now click Submit. Blackboard will respond
with a Contents Action page asking you to define the
"Entry Point" to your flash activities. Choose
the htm file that you created above:
Note that the only other choice you have to make
is whether you want the activities launched in a new
window or not. If you choose No, the links to
them will appear in the Blackboard content frame,
but when any link is clicked, it will, of course,
appear on a separate flash windows on top of the
Click submit and you're done.
Method 2: Publishing Directly from Within
StudyMate to the Blackboard Server
To publish directly to Blackboard from StudyMate,
select "Publish directly to a Course Management
System" from the StudyMate Publish Wizard, and
choose "Blackboard 6.3-7.x as the type of system.
Click Next. On the next screen, choose
"Standard Upload - HTML and SWF file." DO NOT
choose "SCORM 1.2 package." The first time you
do this, you will not have yet defined settings for
an existing server, so select "add new server"
from the Blackboard drop-down.
When you do, another dialog will pop-up saying
"Pre-configured server settings may be available
for: Palomar College." they are not. so
click No, then Next.
A "Blackboard Server and Course dialog box will
appear. Follow the instructions to fill our
areas 1 and 2 by logging in to Blackboard, pasting
the login URL (from the browser address bar) in area
1, then entering your course control panel and
pasting the URL into area 2. Now, click the
"Extract >>" button and the remaining "technical"
fields in the form will be filled out.
Now all that remains is to fill out a "friendly"
name for your server in the Description field and
your login information in the fields provided at the
bottom of the form. Check "Remember my User
Name and Password" if you work on a private
computer. If anyone else has access to your
computer, do not check this box.
Note that you will only have to do this once.
On subsequent Publish operations this data will
already be stored in StudyMate for you.
Click Next and enter the course and course area
you wish to publish to.
Click Next, and enter any of the discretionary
information you wish on the next screen.
Click Next, and the publish will occur. A
status window will inform you when the publish
operation is complete. After you see
"Completed" click Finish and you are done.
After you have done this the first time, subsequent
publish operations are simple indeed.
So which method is best? Either will work
just fine. For simplicity, after the initial
setup is done the second method is certainly the
simplest. The first method leaves a zip file
and supporting files on your hard drive, however,
that you can re-purpose, use on other web sites, and
save as a backup. For this reason, I prefer
the first method, but it's your call.