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Web Linking with WinEcon 7.1

Web-linking to WinEcon is very easy and secure and does not require browser plug-ins, applets or scripts.

WinEcon consists of over a thousand individual topics (tutorials, section or chapter introductions and summaries), each of which can be treated as a separate learning object that may be linked to. Each WinEcon topic, section, chapter or course has its own hyperlink address - just add the hyperlink to your documents, emails, VLE, Powerpoint presentations, etc. to add WinEcon tutorials to these teaching materials.

Web-linking instructions

Below is a non-technical tutorial for lecturers looking to integrate WinEcon 7.1 into their courses or add WinEcon topics to their presentations or teaching materials covering the following topics.



Overview of WinEcon Web Linking

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WinEcon is Web-enabled. Links from any Web page, Word, Powerpoint, Excel document, email or, in fact, any document that allows hyperlinks can easily be made to specific WinEcon topics, taking your students direct to a specific chapter, section or topic in WinEcon. Add hyperlinks to WinEcon tutorials to your presentations, VLE or any teaching materials to deliver engaging, media-rich lessons, courses, supplements and assessments.

WinEcon web-linking can provide full web access. However, the linking does not require browser plug-ins, applets or scripts and is achieved through a highly secure method that avoids the hacking risks associated with these technologies. As a large, interactive graphical Windows application, WinEcon web-linking delivers all the speed advantages of native applications whilst maintaining the flexibility and convenience of Web hyperlinking.

As with any normal Windows application, WinEcon must be installed on the local area network (LAN) or student's own home PC. Students working on the institution's LAN or their own PC can then jump to specific WinEcon screens quickly and easily from their lecturer's Web pages. Unlike links to Word and PowerPoint documents or Flash and Shockwave movies, links to WinEcon topics are ultra fast (even over a dial-up line) because all the WinEcon content is already on the PC; links from Web pages to WinEcon topics just download miniscule navigation files that start-up WinEcon at the correct topic. WinEcon comes with a separate navigation file for each topic. Create a link to a topic's navigation file from any Web page and WinEcon will start up on that topic when a student clicks on the link.

WinEcon web-linking can be used on-line or off-line.



How Web links work and what happens when they are used

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Download demo icon1 minute Using Weblinks video demo

When you click on a web link to WinEcon it hyperlinks to the WinEcon website and fetches a miniscule navigation file (.winecon files) which contains the information needed to start up WinEcon at the correct topic. A copy of these navigation files are also installed on your machine so you can set up links for offline use.

What are these ".winecon" navigation files?

For security reasons Web browsers do not allow you to create links to executable programs like "winecon.exe" and so instead WinEcon has its very own file extension (.winecon) that works just like ".doc" does for Word. As part of the WinEcon installation procedure an association is made between the ".winecon" file extension and the "winecon.exe" executable so that whenever you try to open a ".winecon" file, winecon.exe is run to "display" the file. Unlike Word documents, the ".winecon" file doesn't contain the content that the student wants to see, instead it just contains the name of the topic that WinEcon should display. Slightly unusual, but very secure, fast and effective.

What happens when you link to WinEcon from a Web Link?

With WinEcon 7.1, when a student clicks on a web link in your course notes, WinEcon will open up at the topic identified in the Web link file. Each WinEcon topic has its own unique numeric identifier. Some topics are used in multiple courses, whilst others, including many introductions and summaries may be specific to just one. When WinEcon starts up from a Web link a 'Choose Course' box will be displayed if the topic occurs in more than one course that the student has access to. No choice is offered if the topic only occurs in one course or if the student only has access to one course in which the topic occurs. In this case an automatic choice is made. Having chosen the course, WinEcon will jump straight to the topic in that course. Once in a course WinEcon will stay in that course if appropriate. Customisation and/or licensing allows students and institutions to manage the courses they want to use.



Integrating into Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) like Blackboard™, WebCT™, Moodle™ or Sakai™

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WinEcon consists of hundreds of individual topics, each of which can be treated as a separate learning object that may be linked to from your VLE. The WinEcon Introductory Economics course, for instance, has approximately 800 such topics. Open the on-line course contents page (click on link if on line) and point your cursor at a topic to see the hyperlink address of the topic. If you have WinEcon installed you can click on any of the topics on this course contents page to quickly start WinEcon at any of these 800+ topics.

Each web-based course contents listing can be used as your institution's starting point for WinEcon. The course contents pages are just an ordered list of hyperlink addresses to WinEcon. These course contents pages can be customised: choose the tutorials, sections or chapters you want to include; re-order the topics as required; choose your own course, chapter and section names to match your courses and modules; and apply your own logo and style to match that of your institution. pre-authored courses and customised courses can be used on-line or off-line.

The WinEcon hyperlink addresses can be inserted into your own VLE courses; these may either be as customised contents listings if you want to direct your students to a number of WinEcon topics; or as individual links from online course notes to specific WinEcon topics that you would like your students to work through, say, for instance, a quiz in WinEcon or an interactive model.

WinEcon web linking creates a seemless bridge between the Web-orientated VLE and any WinEcon topic. Links to WinEcon topics can be created directly from the VLE course or indirectly from any document (e.g. Word, Powerpoint, Excel or Web pages) in your course. You may, for instance, have a link to a Word document from your VLE course and you may wish to insert a link in that Word document to WinEcon.

So, to summarise, provided that you have WinEcon installed on your network (LAN) or PC, no special installation or configuration of the VLE is necessary. You simply create links to specific WinEcon topics just as if you were creating links to other Web pages. For details of how to do this, read on.



How to create hyperlinks to WinEcon topics

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Download demo icon3 minute Creating Weblinks video demo

The following topics are covered in this section.

WinEcon web linking allows you to create hyperlinks to any WinEcon topic from your Web pages, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint slideshows or VLEs like Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle or Sakai - in fact from any document format that allows you to create Web hyperlinks.

If you write Web pages then you probably already know how to make a link to another Web page. For example, in Word, Excel or PowerPoint, you can select a word or phrase and type Ctrl-K to turn it into a hyperlink, and then just key in the Web address (URL) of the Web page that you would like to link to. If this is all new to you, don't panic because the examples below explain how to do it step by step.

With WinEcon web linking, making links to WinEcon topics is no different to making links to ordinary Web pages - all you need to know is the Web address (URL) of the topic that you would like to link to.

In the following Web Linking instructions we explain how to find the Web address (URL) of the topic that you would like to link to. Then we explain how to use this address to create links from various document formats and Web tools.



Finding the Web address (URL) for a WinEcon topic

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You can find the Web address (URL) of the topic that you would like to link to directly from the topic page in WinEcon, from the online course listings or from the Resource Library, which includes a search facility, on the WinEcon web site.

For this example we will use the online course Introductory Economics:

http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/introductory_economics.xml.

If online, click on this link to open the web based table of contents for WinEcon Introductory Economics in a browser window. If you point your mouse at one of the topics you will see the URL for this topic displayed in the bottom bar of the browser window. To copy the URL, simply locate the topic that you would like to hyperlink to, right-click on the name of the topic and select Copy Shortcut (in Internet Explorer) or Copy Link Location (in Firefox). The Web address you need will now be in the Windows clipboard ready for you to paste in to your Web page editor (e.g. Word, Notepad, Dreamweaver) as the URL. (N.B. If you have WinEcon installed and you left-click on the topic it will start up or jump to that WinEcon topic).

e.g. To find the Web address of the WinEcon topic "The Demand Curve of an Individual"

  1. In your Web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Firefox), go to the Web page for the Introductory Economics course http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/introductory_economics.xml
  2. Click on "Chapter 2. Introduction to Demand and Supply"
  3. Right-click on "The Demand Curve of an Individual"
  4. Select Copy Shortcut (in Internet Explorer) or Copy Link Location (in Firefox)

The Web address for this topic is now in the Windows clipboard ready for you to paste it in somewhere (see examples of how to do this for various applications further down).

Alternatively, you can copy the Web address from a topic page in WinEcon. The WinEcon button on the main toolbar found at the bottom of each topic, introduction and summary page lets you cite or link to the topic you are on.

You can also find a Web address for a WinEcon topic by searching the Resource Library.



Creating the link in your document

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The following examples explain how to use this address to create links from various document formats and Web tools.


Example 1- Linking from Microsoft Word™, Excel™ and Powerpoint™
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This example takes you through the process of creating a link from Word, Powerpoint or Excel (or a Web page created from them) to a specific WinEcon topic.

  1. Open the document that you would like to create a link from in Word/Powerpoint/Excel, or simply start a new blank document.
  2. Select the word or phrase that you would like to turn into a hyperlink (eg. type in "The Demand Curve of an Individual" and select it).
  3. Press Ctrl-K on the key board to turn the selected text into a hyperlink.
  4. In the Hyperlink dialog box, click in the text box labelled "Address:" and press Ctrl-V on the keyboard to paste in the Web address (see Step 1).
  5. Click OK to close the Hyperlink dialog box.
  6. Save the document as a Web page (by choosing "Save as Web page..." from the "File" menu).

You should now be able to open that Web page in your browser and link to the topic "The Demand Curve of an Individual".

To transfer your saved out Web page of course notes with web links to your institutional Web site on your intranet or even the Internet, please contact your departmental IT support for guidance; this process will be different at each institution.

You may prefer to leave your document as a Word/Excel/Powerpoint document instead of saving it as a Web page. In this case you would need to tell your students to hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard when they click on the hyperlink. (Office 2000 displays a popup tooltip explaining this if they point their mouse at the link).


Example 2- Linking from Blackboard™
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This example takes you through the process of creating a link from a Blackboard course to a specific WinEcon topic.

Here are two alternative ways of creating a link from Blackboard to WinEcon:

Method 1 - Adding an External Link directly to a topic from, in this example, Introductory Economics.

  1. Log in to Blackboard
  2. Go to the Blackboard course you want to add a link to
  3. Click on the Control Panel button
  4. Click the External Links link
  5. Click the Add Item button
  6. Enter a name for the topic (e.g. The Demand Curve of an Individual)
  7. Paste in the URL by pressing Ctrl-V (or key in http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon)
  8. Optionally, type a description (e.g. WinEcon topic)
  9. Click the Submit button

You should now be able to see the link to this WinEcon topic when you click on the External Links button for the course.

Method 2 - Uploading a Course Document (e.g. a Word document) that has links to a WinEcon topic.

  1. Log in to Blackboard
  2. Go to the Blackboard course you want to add a link to
  3. Click on the Control Panel button
  4. Click the Course Documents link
  5. Click the Add Item button
  6. Enter the description of the document you are uploading (e.g. Handout for lecture 3)
  7. Click the Browse button and locate the File to Attach (e.g. a Word document created as per Example 1 above)
  8. Click Open to select the file to attach (if you've not already done so)
  9. Enter a name for the link (e.g. the title of your document)
  10. Set any further options if required by you
  11. Click the Submit button

You should now be able to see the link to your uploaded document when you click on the Course Documents button for the course.


Example 3- Linking from HTML
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This example is only for the technically minded who already know how to write HTML by hand in a text editor. To create a hyperlink to a specific WinEcon topic obtain the URL as shown in example 1 (or simply copy the appropriate line out of the HTML). Then create the link using an <a> tag as follows:

<a href="http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon">The Demand Curve of an Individual</a>

If you want to indicate the course the student should use, such as Business Economics:

<a href="http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon">The Demand Curve of an Individual (Business Economics)</a>



How to create hyperlinks for offline use

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We recommend that, wherever possible, you use absolute links to the WinEcon website. However, for the more technically minded it is possible to create links for off-line use.

If your students are distance learners without an Internet connection or using slow/expensive dial-up lines (i.e. they don't want to stay online for long periods of study) then you might want to give them course materials with links to WinEcon suitable for off-line use.

When WinEcon is installed on a machine an off-line copy of the web-link files are created. Links can be made to these rather than to the online ones on the WinEcon website. With the student/single user WinEcon software installed on the student's machine to link to, you could then send them a CD with your own course materials on (or ask them to download these from your institution's Web site as a one-off at the start of the course) from which the student could link to WinEcon using off-line links.

Creating course materials for off-line use is almost exactly the same as creating them for online use except that the hyperlink needs to point at the web link files installed on the student's PC rather than those on the WinEcon website. You could produce a duplicate copy of your course materials with hyperlinks to WinEcon suitable for off-line use. Using Microsoft Office 2003 this can be done generically by setting the hyperlink base for your course notes.

If you are using Office 2003 you could create one set of course notes which used a file path for WinEcon web-links like 00610.winecon and from this produce course notes for off-line use and course notes for online use by simply setting differing hyperlink bases for each document.

  • When you create a link to a WinEcon topic, strip off everything in the file path leaving, in this example, just 00610.winecon
  • For course notes to be used online you would set the hyperlink base for the document as http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/ topics/
  • For course notes to be used off-line you would set the hyperlink base for the document as C:/Program Files/WinEcon Consortium/WinEcon 7.1/winecon71/topics/
Hyperlink bases and how to set them

Using the procedure below, you can create relative links to WinEcon and then set a hyperlink base for all the hyperlinks or URLs in a document. These relative links then effectively become absolute links.

When a relative link is based on a path you specify (the first part of the path that is shared by the file containing the hyperlink and the destination file), that path is the hyperlink base.

  1. Open the document for which you want to set a hyperlink base.

  2. On the File menu, click Properties, and then click the Summary tab.

  3. In the Hyperlink base box, type the path you want to use for all the hyperlinks you create in this document.

N.B. The student/institution must not change the default settings when installing their WinEcon software or the file path to their off-line web-links will differ from that in your hyperlink for offline use. If the student/institution does change the default settings when installing their WinEcon software, the hyperlink base for the document/course notes for off-line use must be changed accordingly.

Using Microsoft Office pre 2003

If you are using Microsoft Office pre 2003 you could create a duplicate set of course notes for off-line use by using find and replace to change the file path for your links from a online one to an off-line one.

  • When you create a link to a WinEcon topic, replace the WinEcon website address in the file path with C:/Program Files/WinEcon Consortium/WinEcon 7.1

So, if the online link, as above, was http://www.winecon.com/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon
the off-line link for this topic would be C:/Program Files/WinEcon Consortium/WinEcon 7.1/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon

N.B. The student/institution must not change the default settings when installing their WinEcon software or the file path to their off-line web-links will differ from that in your hyperlink for offline use. If the student/institution does change the default settings when installing their WinEcon software, the file path in the links must be changed accordingly.

Using relative links with a hyperlink base

It is also possible to create off-line links using a relative URL instead of an absolute URL (please see note below).

  • In the off-line example above, the URL is absolute and looks like "C:/Program Files/WinEcon Consortium/WinEcon 7.1/winecon71/topics/00610.winecon". To turn this into a relative URL all you need to do is delete everything from the start up to /topics. So, in this example you would be left with just "topics/00610.winecon".

N.B. The use of relative URLs and understanding the necessary set-up requirements to ensure the links work for all your users may need some further technical expertise. If you use a relative URL there is now no complete file path so you then need to make an association beween the course notes and the WinEcon program. When a student clicks on your relative link in the course notes for off-line use, the web link file will be fetched from a relative folder. By default the web link files for off-line use are installed on the student's PC in the "winecon71" folder. Therefore, ask your students to copy the course materials you give them to WinEcon's "winecon71" folder on their hard disk that was created when they installed the WinEcon 7.1 student/single user software, assuming they did not change the default settings.


Using these methods, your students will be able to use links from your course materials to WinEcon topics without needing to go online.



Hints and Tips

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  • Your students don't need to close WinEcon if they click on different topic links in your Web pages or course materials. In fact, it's best if they leave WinEcon open. Each time they click on a link in the Web page, the WinEcon window will come to the front and jump to the relevant topic. If the topic they link to occurs in multiple course they have access to, WinEcon will remain in the course it is already in. If the topic is only available in another course, WinEcon will automatically change course or ask the student to choose a different course.
  • If a student working on their own PC away from the network clicks on a link to a WinEcon topic that does not occur in any of their available courses or if they don't have a copy of the WinEcon software installed, a message will be displayed to that effect. Higher Education Students using WinEcon on their own PC can install the Student Pack which includes all courses. Or institutions can provide full web access by buying a NetworkPlus licence or WinEcon Suite (includes NetworkPlus licence for unlimited numbers).