In anticipation of my being involved in the research and development of computer assisted learning (CAL) applications in tertiary education, I spent the second semester of 1992 on study leave. During this time I worked at universities in Australia, the United Stages, and England. I also made short visits to various institutions, attended conferences, workshops, and seminars. I found that there is a wealth of variety and quality of educational software being developed in tertiary education and that multimedia software was the most professional and exciting of these applications.
This paper will give an overview of multimedia activity taking place in tertiary education. Mention will be made about funding commitments by universities for software development in today's climate of "quality teaching". A summary will be made of Australian grants for improvement in teaching which show that multimedia software development forms a significant component of teaching research and development. Finally, this paper will introduce the newly formed Multimedia Research and Development Group of the Department of Applied Computing & Mathematics at the University of Tasmania at Launceston.
I found that there is a wealth of educational software variety and quality of being developed in tertiary education and that multimedia software was the most professional and exciting of the applications.
This paper will give an overview of multimedia activity taking place in tertiary institutions visited. It will concentrate on the variety of applications but will explain in more detail about a few of these applications. Finally, it will list projects presently being undertaken at the University of Tasmania at Launceston by members of the Multimedia Research and Development Group within the Department of Applied Computing and Mathematics.
IMLU is involved with courseware development, training, consultancy, marketing, and research. It conducts regular meetings with software users and developers across the University to share ideas, applications, and new developments concerning multimedia software. It has the best facilities of any I saw during my study leave. The Unit recently completed a major project called Managing Continuous Improvement which is aimed at teaching total quality management in business education.
The University of Melbourne provides generous funding to multimedia projects (12 in 1992 for approximately $50,000). When I was there, the School of Science allocated $250,000 for a three year multimedia development plan.
The University of Illinois is the National Centre for Research into Supercomputer Applications. It is also where useful software such as Telnet and Eudora were developed. The well known program Mathematica was developed there too. Furthermore, the software authoring systems TenCore and CT have roots at the University of Illinois.
Multimedia software development is prolific at the University of Illinois. I reviewed 41 research proposals for multimedia software development funding ($150 000 worth of Apple equipment, mainly Quadras). This was part of on-going support for software development. There was a similar joint venture between the University and IBM.
While visiting the University of Illinois, 1 was given multimedia demonstrations in various departments. The most notable included:
Figure 1: A typical chemistry "experiment"
Students are able to conduct experiments in a clean, safe, efficient environment. Obvious benefits include cost savings for chemicals, breakage, waste, safety, and time. IBM platforms running in house programs, using Photomotion (IBM's QuickTime), run the simulations. The School of Chemical Sciences has been a leader in using interactive multimedia simulations. Computer labs and traditional 'wet' labs exist next door to each other. The computer labs are more popular with students than the traditional ones. The interactive computer experiments replace one half of wet lab work. They are used by all undergraduate students of this large university (2000 first year chemistry students).
Figure 2: Display of a part of a building from both the inside and outside
The student clicks on "hot spots", and the lecturer's voice explains about the building's construction, complete with colour graphics overlays.
Dr Kuznetsov uses the AVC authoring system. She has found that software development is far easier using two computer systems, one for audio and the other for video. Versions for both Macintosh and IBM run from the NovaNET network.
The user can zoom in on a particular area and get zoning information and population patterns. Flight patterns can be overlaid on a map and the user can hear aeroplane noise (see Figure 3). Property values versus noise level can be inspected (eg, 4% of the population will be angered by the aircraft sound and property values will decrease by 1.4%).
Figure 3: Flight path analysis (Lang, 1992, p27)
The user can "drive" along streets and see movies of traffic flow at different times of the day (see Figure 4). Proposed buildings can be analysed. For example, shadows can be seen as the seasons change and the hours pass. Narration about the building is available. The platform used was a Quadra with 120 MB hard disk and 90 MB hard disk cartridge, running SuperCard and using QuickTime.
Figure 4 Another multi-window urban analysis screen (Lang, 1992, p28)
The package is used both for teaching in the Urban Studies and Planning Department, and for outside consulting.
Figure 5: Dr Tony Cartright and students (CEET, p2)
There has also been a 66% savings in staff costs in mechanical engineering tutorials. The development of multimedia software was made possible by a grant of over 200,000 pounds from "VC" funds with the promise to match any research funds.
All software is Macintosh based. Development tools include CT, Mathematica, and HyperCard controlling LabView.
|Humanities, Social Studies, Education, Arts||6||2||18||26|
|Sciences, Engineering, "Built Environment", Maths, Computing||9||23||37||69|
|Dentistry, Medicine, Health Sciences||2||4||7||13|
|Business, Administration, Economics, Law||3||4||7||14|
The major overall objective of the group is the production of high quality, interactive multimedia educational software. Members review and circulate articles, give software/hardware demonstrations, disseminate information from conferences, etc. Furthermore, MmRDG acts as a forum for demonstrating work in progress, and assessing grants proposals, and reviewing publications and conference papers written by members.
The research group has received generous support from the Department in the form of multimedia work stations and a $5000 allowance for journals. Already, one national grant application has been successful.
Topics of projects currently under production include:
The formation of multimedia groups within universities is a healthy indicator of staff commitment to developing high quality CAL materials. From the point of view of someone who has been involved in educational computing for over 15 years, multimedia environments are providing exciting and dynamic opportunities for computer education.
IBM. Computer assisted interactive videodisc lessons support and supplant chemistry lab experiments. Academic Information Systems Instructional Brief.
Lang, Laura. (1992). GIS comes to life. Computer Graphics World, October, 27-36.
Michael, Mary Ellen. (Ed). (1992). Division of Educational Technologies, University of Illinois, Instructional Microcomputing Newsletter, 7(7).
University of Melbourne, Centre for the Study of Higher Education (1991). Strategic Plan: Interactive Multimedia Learning Unit 1991-1994.
University of Surrey, Centre for Engineering Educational Technology. Information pamphlet.
|Author: Jeff James, Department of Applied Computing & Mathematics, University of Tasmania at Launceston.
Please cite as: James. J. (1994). Multimedia applications in tertiary education. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 209-213. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1994/hj/james.html