The story of Avallain Author is our story. Pioneering, empowering, and founded upon the best education design, Author is one of our defining technologies. Its story shows how we have always been ahead of the wave, pre-empting developments in educational technology, devising tools that will drive the learning of tomorrow. To know that story is to know Avallain. And so here it is: the story of Author, right up to the latest, groundbreaking innovation.
A perfect balance of education and technology
In 1996, we set out to create the first online digital authoring tool. Our aim was a solution that avoided the technology fixations of the time, and instead, placed sound education design at its heart. To achieve this, we worked with dedicated education designers, whose sole task was to ensure quality of design and pedagogy. Outstanding technology was fundamental too, of course, and the finest engineers were set to work; but crucially, design and engineering remained separate streams, ensuring that neither compromised the other.
It was a process driven by ideas, but also by experience. Most of the inspiration came from our clients and collaborators: teachers, publishers, authors and educators who live and breathe education. To this day, their contributions underpin every principle and feature of Author.
Smart architecture: building for the future
Avallain was founded in 2002 to focus on publishing solutions, and on a new generation of the authoring tool: Avallain Author. Harnessing all of our insights, the all-new Author was engineered for the future.
We made use of an object-oriented approach and separated the content from its presentation, ensuring that it would weather the storms of technological change. This architecture has seen Author – and its content creations – through seismic shifts such as HTML to Flash, Flash to HTML5, and the explosion of mobile devices. In a world of ever more interoperability, thought was given not only to emerging (now, established) standards, but also to interfacing with other systems. This has opened the way to many cutting-edge collaborations, including those with specialized solutions for specific subjects, such as GeoGebra, and more recently, with Seinet’s content management system, enabling blended publishing to print and digital.
In these ways, our future-proofed approach has shielded our clients from substantial cost and disruption, and allowed them to focus instead on creativity and authorship.
Gamification, adaptive learning, APIs: evolving for the demands of tomorrow
This year may mark two decades of our research and development in the field of digital authoring, but Author is not about the past, it is about the future. Its firm but flexible foundations allow it to evolve in response to ever-changing demands and opportunities. Here are just some of the latest innovations:
Gamification: activities can now be transformed into exciting team competitions, with automatic marking and scoreboard updates.
Unique activity types: we are always adding new activity types and features, often in response to suggestions from clients. In the past 6 months alone, we have added 30 features and 10 activity types.
Digital books: professional on-screen books can now be created directly in Author, and enriched with embedded audio, video and activities.
Maze reader creation: these acclaimed scenario-based readers encourage learners to follow their own path through a story, and test their knowledge of English as they go. The first maze reader won the most prestigious innovation prize in English Language Teaching: the ESU President’s Award.
Adaptive learning: it is now possible to craft adaptive learning paths suited to the unique needs of individual learners, promoting engagement and motivation, and enhancing outcomes.
Advanced workflow management: Avallain Author now supports seven roles in the publishing workflow, providing sufficient flexibility and control to manage complex publishing workflows.
API: it is now possible to reach directly into the data of Avallain Author. Information about users, projects, work packages and learning objects may be retrieved, interrogated and archived in other systems, allowing publishers to integrate Author more fully into its workflows. Planned updates will allow publishing too, enabling third party systems to manage the full publishing process.
Avallain Author’s tireless evolution keeps it responsive to current demands, and prepared for the future. And because it is a service, not a software, these innovations are available to all of our clients, seamlessly.
The story of Avallain Author continues apace. Like the inspirational content Author creates, it is the product of great ideas, long experience, and insight.
Join us, and let’s keep writing.
Daniel Seuling, Head of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org