Plymouth University Xerte

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Plymouth University Xerte

Plymouth University Xerte

Xerte Online Toolkits

For some time there has been a need for a simple formative assessment tool at the University of Plymouth, one which would enable quick and easy production of formative and self-assessment quizzes and questions, and which would easily deliver these assessments on-demand to students via the Web. Now it seems a solution may be here.

The Xerte Online Toolkits (Xerte), created and developed by the Learning Team at the University of Nottingham, are now being piloted by the University of Plymouth. Technology Enhanced Learning is developing the service and undertaking an evaluation of it in collaboration with a number of academic staff across the institution.

Xerte Online Toolkit

Example of XOT in use with Learning 4 Health

Xerte provides a web browser interface through which packages of content and formative assessment can be created, edited, and published to the Web. It provides a number of templates for content including a variety of multimedia content, e.g. video, slide-shows, Google Maps, YouTube videos, Wikipedia entries. It also has over ten interactivity templates, e.g. a quiz, drag and drop, matching exercise, multiple choice questions, allowing formative self-assessment to be embedded within content delivery. Xerte is a tool which puts relevant self-assessment exercises in context with study content to produce a learning package that is concise, effective and accessible.

To see more about Xerte Online Toolkits visit the Univerity of Nottingham Xerte site where you will find links to examples of resources created with Xerte, more about the Xerte project and a video illustrating how simple it is to create and publish your interactive material. Xerte is accessible and also conforms to standards for reusable learning objects, i.e. packages can easily be shared, re-purposed and repackaged for use in other contexts.

If you are interested in helping us evaluate the Xerte Online Toolkits, would like further information, or more generally would like some help and advice with technology enhanced learning please do drop us a line at or give us a call on x87600 for an informal chat.


What I wanted to attempt was to produce a podcast to help the medical students during their simulation sessions. This was a learning need that I had previously identified. I actually was prompted to produce this content as part of a PGCAP module otherwise there would have been a delay.


Students, even 5th years, found simulation in the SIM Suite very stressful. Their anxiety at participating and being observed was heightened by the stress of being in an unfamiliar environment and not feeling competent with how the equipment worked.


Prior to the Scenario starting at the start of a session, students were orientated around the Sim Suite by a Clinical Skills Tutor. This would involve moving around the room and demonstrating how the equipment worked and where items were located. This was done to the whole group so manoeuvring around the SIM Suite was difficult and students may not have had a good view. Also the time spent orientating the students ‘ate’ into the session time so these orientations were brief, approximately 5 minutes. Also specific procedures couldn’t be covered in the brief orientation.


Students are ‘invited’ to view the Xerte Orientation Guide that I compiled and takes approximately 25 minutes. It allows them to Orientate themselves in their own time and use the content as revision when needed at later date. I think this works much better as students can view the information at their own pace and go over the technical parts when they require that information. Also I feel that they will gain greater understanding as they are not anxious when they are viewing the content and are able to focus on it. Also this is much more detailed than the information that they are given at the start of the session.

My colleagues think that this works well. Face to face orientation is still given but more brief than previously as it is assumed that the students have accessed the content.

Benefits of new practice / tool

For the tutors it means that if accessed, the students are less stressed coming into the sessions as they are at least familiar with the layout, where the equipment is located and how some of the equipment works. The students are not as stressed and seem more relaxed at the start of the session – though not necessarily at the end depending on how it has gone.

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