When you're making a course, the Skilling editor is where you'll spend most of your time. It's not a general purpose editor. It was specially designed to help subject matter experts (SMEs) (like faculty) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) experts make courses. You've probably never seen anything like it.

Here's what the editor looks like when you're starting a new lesson.

Empty editor


Wait, what? Where are the bolding and italics buttons? That sucks!

I can see why you'd think that. Give me a chance to convince you otherwise.

State-of-the-art webpage editor

The site you're looking at now was made with WordPress, using the Avada theme. Avada comes with a more-or-less state-of-the-art editor. It gives you lots of creative freedom. You can make grid layouts, special effects, whatever you want. See the fancy stuff in the home page, for example. Admit it, you thought it was pretty cool.

For someone like me, Avada is worth the price. I'm a decent programmer, but graphic design isn't my forte. Avada lets me make a site with all the good feels. That doesn't change the info on the site, but does affect your emotional reaction to it. Like it or not, that's how brains work.

Let's see what the Avada editor looks like. I'll show you the live editor, rather than the standard one. The live editor looks better, and is more intuitive. I actually use the standard editor, since, at the time of writing, I'm using Avada 7.0.1, and the live editor isn't as reliable as it might be. It's probably been updated by the time you read this.

Here's what the editor looks like, working on the security page.

Editing with Avada

There's a grid, with two columns. The right-hand one has the highlights menu. On the left is a column. Nested inside are two columns, one for text, and one for the goat (goats are cool). I click the editing icon to open the nested columns.

Inside the nested column, there's a text block. Now that I'm inside the nested column, I can click on the editing icon for that.

Editing with Avada

Now I see the editor for the text block. There are the bold and italic buttons you wanted.

Editing with Avada

After making changes, I click my way out of the nesting levels, and save. (If the editor let's me save. Sometimes it doesn't, with the current version.)

Now, I like Avada, and recommend it for people wanting to make sites like this one. Layouts, effects, you have a lot of control over the look-and-feel of your site. That's great! In fact, I'm somewhat in awe of the Avada team. They created something that's..., well, awesome.


You have "but" face.

But... Skilling is for subject-matter experts making courses, not for designers making look-at-me pages.

Avada privileges look-and-feel. You make containers, inside them you add columns, inside them you might nest other columns, inside them you add elements, like titles with animated squiggles. To write the next paragraph, you exit three levels, add a text element. Exit that, add a check list, with icons for each element.

Great!... unless you're trying to keep a mental flow, as you write an explanation of something complicated. Then, it will drive you nuts. The cognitive load of formatting and explaining at the same time is just too large.

Skilling's semi-GUI editor

How about an editor where you just type? Let it handle formatting for you. It won't give you the layout options of Avada, but everything you need for a task like, say, making a course.

An example of what you might type in such an editor:


All of this is just typing, without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Plain text. No mouse buttons clicked. Here's what it looks like:

Sample rendered

Bolding, by typing *. A list, by making lines with * at the start. An annotation, by typing annotation., some stuff, and then closing the annotation tag. You don't have to tell Skilling how to make an annotation, just that you want one.

Maybe you want a special annotation, a warning. Type this:


It looks like:


You don't tell Skilling how to make a warning, with a red box, and such. Just tell it you want one, and it will handle the deets.


I've worked with text-based things like this. Images are a pain. You type in the name of the image, and you can't see it when you're writing about it.

You're right, it's a pain. That's why the Skilling editor is a semi-GUI. Everything is text - except when it comes to images. One of the icons on the editor's toolbar inserts an image.

Insert an image

You upload images, put them in folders, and choose the image you want. It shows in the editor.

An image in the Skilling editor

You can see the image as you write about it. In the screen shot, the image in being resized, as you can see.


Wow, I've never seen anything like that. A text editor, except when it needs to be something else.

Right! To help authors make courses.


A question. There are tags, like annotation, a special syntax for adding images, those conditional things... Anything to help make that stuff?

Aye! One of the buttons...

Templates button

... shows a list of tag templates:


The simple annotation template is selected there. The one below it is an annotation as well, of the type "Hint." Looks a little different.

There are tags for the special elements that help with skill learning. Exercises, patterns, principles, questions... and the rest. That's what you need, when you make skill courses.

This is is why Skilling rocks

The Skilling editor is tuned for one job: helping authors make skill courses, effectively and efficiently. Like everything else in Skilling, the editor is focused on that goal.


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