Generally interactive multimedia (IMM) playback systems are envisaged as top of the line computers with the necessary accessories, addressing a high quality monitor. Such systems are expensive and require a high degree of computer literacy, even skill, to operate successfully. While the educational benefits of using IMM are assumed (Jonassen, 1985; Larsen, 1992), it is important to keep the resources of the students in mind when selecting a playback platform. On campus students can be catered for with central facilities, external students pose logistical and resource problems. Across all faculties of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) a significant number of external students would not yet have reached the level of computer user skill needed to operate conventional IMM playback systems and/ or have the resources to purchase same.
The Faculty of Engineering & Surveying at the USQ has 1,278 external engineering students. While most have the computer skills required, many would find conventional IMM playback equipment unaffordable. Most would have access to computers at their place of work, however these computers are generally not suitable for IMM and would not be available when and where the student needed them for study. With this in mind the authors turned to home entertainment equipment which is perceived as friendly to use and inexpensive. Because it serves other purposes such as playing music CDs and games, it is considered likely to be available in the home, without having to be specially purchased as study equipment.
Home entertainment IMM however raises several questions. As it addresses a conventional TV set the on screen definition is considerably lower than that obtained with a quality monitor, so is TV definition adequate for tertiary level education? Can tertiary level educational packages be scripted within the confines of this screen definition? Superficially the computer underlying home entertainment players is not as sophisticated as the conventional top of the line PC, so can such a simple computer provide the level of interactivity and other features required for tertiary level IMM?
During 1992 the authors prepared a pilot CD operating on a Commodore CDTV player. This program showed that the screen definition and computing capacity of the player were suitable for delivering tertiary level education (Richardson & Pemberton, 1992).
The outcome was sufficiently successful to encourage the team to make a submission to the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching to fund the design and production of a teaching CD. The application was successful and in November 1993 work commenced on the production of a CD disc to present the unit of study, Design of Machine Elements, from the Bachelor of Engineering.
The CD32, being marketed as a home games machine, did not have all the accessory ports that had been part of the CDTV machine, however a docking station has been developed that will provide all the necessary options for attachment to a printer, modem, floppy and hard disk drives etc. (Table 1). At the time of writing the docking station was not yet available in Australia.
In retrospect, despite the pain it has caused, the decision to transfer to CD32 was both inevitable and sound, as there was no sense at all in producing a product that would run on a platform that was superseded. Consideration was given to transferring to a PC or Mac based system however this would have departed from the idea of providing cheap user friendly playback equipment. CD32 still satisfied that requirement.
|Disc speed||600 RPM|
|Processor speed||14.28 MHz|
|Resolutions||262,000 colours in all resolutions|
|Full screen 25 fps.VHS quality vision|
and CD quality stereo sound
Each module includes a suite of test items, some of which follow conventional multiple choice practice. A more interesting group are those that require visual identification of failure characteristics and have the underlying objective of developing the student's diagnostic skills and methods.
Of course any engineering unit must contain numerical problems. On being presented with these problems the student has the option of requesting; the answer to the problem, the strategy for solving the problem, or the worked solution to the problem. The strategy option is intended to develop the student's approach to problem solving. All of the tests and problems are drawn randomly from a bank of data or resources that is sufficiently large to ensure a high probability of different test material every time the student accesses the test.
The instructional content includes an expert system that on the one hand can be used directly to solve fatigue problems, and on the other, gives the student the ability to economically explore the consequences of changes to the geometry or the material etc. of a component.
The presentation of material follows conventional interactive multimedia practice, that is, it comprises computer graphics, animations, still photos, video clips and audio narration. Generally on this CD graphs are plotted in real time from either stored data or from data that has been generated during the course of a problem.
The conventional external study notes are also on the CD disc in text format. This allows the student to take a hard copy of the whole or any part of the module when the CD32 is connected to a printer.
|Assets - Visual|
|Authoring and design checking||35||$1050.00|
|Test driving -|
|Pressing of master CD||$27.00|
A major component of this stage of the project has been the writing of the authoring and player software capable of performing these special functions. The time taken for these tasks has not been included in the above costs for a typical module as this is developmental work which will support not only the 10 modules in Design of Machine Elements, but most other Units for the Bachelor of Engineering course.
This was achieved using a master copy of the script made up of frame proforma sheets, with a unique frame identification number, on which was recorded what was to appear on the screen, the accompanying audio narration, the type of visual, such as graphic, photograph, video clip, pathway linkages, control buttons available, and hot spots. When any item was updated it was flagged using postit notes and the script writer was responsible for conveying the information to the graphic artist and the programmers.
The content map was a most vital element as it visually identified ever frame in the module and formed a flow diagram showing the relationship between each frame, the location of test and problem activities and the points were student pathway control access was available. The content map also guided the authoring programmer when designing the file system and compiling the presentation.
The asset checklist showed every frame in a module and the type of asset used on that frame. The progress of asset development could be referenced from this list and changes could also be recorded and tracked.
A design and production progress chart was also used to keep track of the stages of production for each topic of each module. This included; scripting - screens, narration, hot spots and pathways; the logic; audio - recorded, digitised; video - recorded, digitised; authoring; software implementation; testing; errors found and errors fixed.
Using these coordination tools the status of work could be seen at a glance . It was the responsibility of the person carrying out the work to tick off the items as they were completed and the responsibility of the project manager to make sure this was done.
By presenting the students with problem activities they have to actually apply the knowledge they have acquired through the teaching steps and by applying the knowledge they consolidate their knowledge (Jonassen, 1991). It enables the student to see if they have understood the knowledge and if they can apply the knowledge.
The interactive program enables the students to revise the work until they are satisfied that they understand. If they cannot manage the process of applying the knowledge they are given the option of being given being presented with the strategy for solving the problem, or the fully worked solution. It is expected that between these two options the students will develop the ability and the process to apply the knowledge.
Text based multiple choice quizzes are used to test students' knowledge acquisition. To test the student's ability to apply the knowledge gained, problems (scenarios) are posed which require the student to think about the information necessary to resolve the problem, and then follow through the mathematical procedures to resolve the problem.
Gagne, Robert M. & Briggs, Leslie J. (1974). Principles of instructional Design. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York.
Jonassen, David H. (1985). Interactive lesson design: A taxonomy. Educational Technology, 25(6), 7-17.
Jonassen, David H. (1991). What are cognitive tools? In Piet A.M. Kommers et al (eds), Cognitive Tools for Learning. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. In cooperation with NATO Scientific Affairs Division.
Larsen, Ronald (1992). Relationship of learning style to the effectiveness and acceptance of interactive video instruction. Journal of Computer Based Instruction, 19(1), 17-21.
Piaget, J. (1950). The Psychology of Intelligence. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York.
Richardson, L. & Pemberton, P. F. (1992). Interactive CD more than an educational tool - it's a challenge. Proceedings of Australian Association for Engineering Education. University of Queensland. Brisbane.
|Authors: Lesley Richardson, Head, Media Services, Distance Education Centre, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Queensland 4350. Telephone (076) 31 2463; Facsimile (076) 31 2028; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Pemberton, Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering & Surveying, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Queensland 4350.
Tom Duncan, Media Services, Distance Education Centre, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Queensland 4350. Telephone (076) 31 2020; Facsimile (076) 31 2028; email email@example.com
Please cite as: Richardson, L., Pemberton, P. and Duncan, T. (1994). Using home entertainment technology for higher education. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (eds), Learning Environment Technology: Selected papers from LETA 94, 270-274. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech94/rw/richardson.html