On the site, Powerful Learning Practice, Dolores Gende authored an article entitled
“Aggregate, Curate and Create Your Own Textbook.” She gives a comprehensive guide to the process from gathering some URL’s to creating a finished product. She starts with aggregation by social bookmarking and states her favorites are Delicious and Diigo. She recommends Diigo because teachers can highlight and write comments directly on the web pages to facilitate organizing them into sets of particular themes.
She moves to a section where she stresses the need for teachers to collaborate within their subject departments and beyond. She advises that if the volume becomes too much to use an aggregator like Paper.li or The Twitted Times.
Next she discusses curation, which she describes as a more in-depth analysis of the information gathered on a theme. Then she says to focus on the essential questions from your syllabus or state standards to help you select resources. The tools she discusses for curation are LiveBinders and Scoop.it! Both are free. She then gives a link to a post with 30+ Cool Content Curation Tools. There are also some apps for curation for iPads.
Reaching the state of creation, she cites Google Sites, PBworks and Wikispaces. Her personal favorite is Google Sites because you can imbed images, You Tube videos, podcasts and Google Docs (now Google . Finally she notes some resources for creating finished products, including iTunesU and CK-12 Foundation.
While you probably could not create a virtual school on her ideas, you certainly could create a textbook or a course. Everything she mentioned that I investigated is free. This is a lot of content design for no cost.
Moving away from the free to a very attractive product that is not free:
Adobe Captivate 8 is a cool tool. It has been designed to make eLearning easy to create and fun to learn with drop and drag games quizzes and learning modules. You can import PowerPoint presentations, including audio and animation and publish directly into HTML5. You can insert clickable areas and begin with a variety of activities right out of the box, like Hangman, Jigsaw, Accordion and Pyramid and then customize them to your specifications. Content is deliverable to iPads and mobile devices. It is cool, but not inexpensive at $999 (like we don’t think it is $1,000 of expense.) But…the regular product is available to educators and students for $299. Additionally they have a monthly use fee of $19.99 with a one year commitment. I appreciate that it has Retina Display like my MacBook Pro.