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Multimedia Presentations Workshop

University of Manchester,
9-10 April 1996

This Workshop was organised as part of SIMA (Support Initiative for Multimedia Applications). Despite being held during the Easter break, it attracted a lot of attention, proving that this is obviously a subject of some interest. Around 30 participants from a range of disciplines attended the event, which consisted of a number of presentations and workshop discussions.

The Workshop had a number of aims. Firstly, are multimedia presentations a good thing? While recent years have seen a rapid increase in the numbers of computers used in education, for a variety of tasks, presentations and particularly lectures are probably the last area to be affected by computer technology. Is this simply because multimedia presentations have little to offer over traditional methods, or is there some lack in the software or hardware? Secondly, assuming there was some need for electronic presentations, the workshop discussions were to provide some recommendations which could be used by presenters and those responsible for equipping lecture theatres.


The opening presentation was given by Professor Philip Barker of Teeside University, who looked at 'Moving Toward Electronic Lectures'. He felt that electronic lectures (not necessarily multimedia) had a number of advantages to offer, including the ability of the electronic lecture to then act as the foundation of an online version of the course. Terry Hewitt from the Computer Graphics Unit, University of Manchester, argued the case for 'Chalk and Talk'. He felt that OHP transparencies represented a reliable technology that was portable and easy to use and modify. Reliability and portability were themes that cropped up several times during the two days, and were felt to be major barriers to the uptake of electronic presentations. A presenter does not yet feel confident that, without taking all their own equipment, they can go to another site and run their presentation without problems. Stuart Hirst, from Leeds Metropolitan University, gave a multimedia presentation on the second day, showing how different media could be incorporated, and delivered. Some of the problems with setting up this demonstration provided useful feedback for the discussion groups.

Workshop Discussions and Recommendations

Three Workshop groups were identified:
At the end of the two days, a number of major points had been identified, and many of the group recommendations did in fact overlap. It was felt that multimedia presentations were worth pursuing. Multimedia illustrations could provide students with a much better insight and understanding of some topics than simple text, but multimedia should be used appropriately, and only where required. Current presentation tools were thought to be reasonable, but better import and export facilities to allow easy exchange of material between different packages, support for standard formats, and support for non-linear narratives to allow more interactive presentations are required.

Other major recommendations included:
A full report of the workshop and its recommendations will be made available shortly on the SIMA WWW pages: (

Sue Cunningham
SIMA Multimedia Support Officer
Computer Graphics Unit
Manchester Computing
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL

Tel: +44 161 275 6095
Fax: +44 161 275 6040