AGOCG logo
Graphics Multimedia VR Visualization Contents
Training Reports Workshops Briefings Index
Also available in Acrobat format Back Next


1 Introduction
2 What is Multimedia?

3 Pedagogy and technology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Generic requirements
3.3 The Framework
3.4 Insurrect
3.5 Conclusions

4 Networks
5 Future Work

Case Studies

Multimedia in the Teaching Space


Ideally it is desirable to teach a subject by a generic approach, but the analysis of the requirements of different teaching applications, shows that it is difficult to separate the requirements of the subject from the requirements of the individual. It is perhaps worthwhile trying identify the basic scenarios which occur in the teaching and learning processes. These processes involve a meeting between student and teacher which can be called a dialogue and these are listed as follows:-
The meeting between the teacher and student.
The purpose of these meeting is to
a) to exchange knowledge and information
b) to exchange and discuss ideas derived from this knowledge
c) to measure the progress of these exchanges.

a).The exchange of Information and Knowledge.

We need to consider the various ways in which this knowledge and information is available and can be accessed.

i) knowledge and information which has been filtered by the teacher and is given in a "digested" form to the student during a "meeting". This filtered knowledge includes demonstrations, designed and/or modified by the student for the purpose of understanding the structure of that knowledge, to demonstrate a concept, process or procedure.

ii) knowledge and information specifically created for educational purposes by a third party and which the student can access

iii) knowledge which has been filtered

iv) knowledge not created for educational purposes which places demands on the student to access and extract that knowledge.

This knowledge and information can be stored on multimedia servers or on CD-ROM and the student can manipulate this in a workstation. The use of video-on-demand servers permits several students or groups to be working from the same information but they are not constrained to work at the same pace. Thus each student or group can work in a manner and at a pace most suited to their own requirements.

b).The exchange of ideas.

The exchange and testing of ideas is a vital part of the educational process in Higher Education and it takes place primarily by interaction between the teacher and student. It is for this reason that it is very important for the technology to be able to support interaction. One could assert that it is only because interaction can be supported by telecommunication technology at a variety of levels and in different environments, that innovation in teaching and learning has become possible.

Networks support two-way communications which is essential for interaction. Often in teaching multi-way communications are required to allow students at several different sites to take part in discussions, and it is under these circumstances that multi-point and multi-cast network configurations are important.

c).The means to measure the quality and success of these exchanges.

The teacher must assess the ability of the student to absorb the knowledge imparted and to do this feedback is necessary. The interactive procedures that can be supported by network communications, both real-time and off-line are necessary if distance and open learning is to be feasible.

The interaction between the teacher and student has then to be assessed as part of the quality assurance processes that are required in all teaching and learning. This is an area where the new technologies can make new and original contributions. The explosion in ideas on how to use the World Wide Web in teaching has been totally unexpected for many people. Many people still do not realise the potential of the INTERNET, and few people would like to predict exactly what we will be doing on the WWW in a few years time. As the bandwidth becomes available video is possible and is likely to become a very pervading methods of communications between people, whether on the basis of one-to-one links or groups for teaching and tutoring. Already questionnaire and MCQs are distributed over the INTERNET, shared working space meeting are becoming more prevalent and interactive discussion between teacher and students, and between student and student is possible.

Both real-time and off-line methods need to be investigated to obtain feedback on the use of new technologies.

It is valuable to also consider the ways in which the student and teacher meet each other, e.g.

The didactic lecture.

A formal lecture without questions and answers. If questions are permitted then only for a short duration at the end of the lecture. This situation has little interaction and is typical with large audiences.

The technology requirements for interaction are limited as usually the teacher will have designed and delivered his/her presentation in a manner that does not depend for its progress upon interaction.

The interactive lecture.

A less formal lecture where question and answers are exchanged between the teacher and students, which works best with small audiences.

The technology requirements to support interaction are essential, and the limitations must be respected. In many cases this type of lecture is best restricted to small number of student at each site, but the total number involved in the session can be quite large if a number of sites are involved. This has brought about technological solutions such as multi-point working, multi-casting etc. and had considerable influence on the methods of control of multi-site conferences, e.g. voice-activated switching.

The seminar.

A session where oral dissertations are delivered and then discussed between the participants.

The technology has to support interactivity because interaction will take place, but also there must be provision for a variety of methods of presenting information; e.g. overhead projection, slides etc.. These problems are probably the concern of the audio-visual engineer who must make provision for the display of whatever information may be shown on the network terminal.

The debate.

Where discussions is formalised and structured.

The demands on the technology have probably been met in the previous scenarios, except that there may be a need for more camera work than in the other circumstances.

The tutorial.

A discussion where the teacher/tutor is in control and directs the discussion.

The technology demands here are most close to those for the conventional business meeting; a limited number of people with a high level of interaction, but much of the success of the session will depend upon the teacher/tutors command of the technology to include the remote students in the discussion. The tutor naturally exercises a control over the discussion and so he can determine which students have the opportunity to express their views.

The discussion group.

Where a free ranging discussion takes place probably under the direction of a chairperson to ensure some cohesion.

Here the requirements on the technology can be high as frequently several people may wish to speak at once, and voice activation methods of switching between sites may break down. Other means have to be developed to see more easily what is happening at a number of different sites simultaneously.

One of the conclusions from examining the scenarios listed above is that in most cases, provided the communications links between student and teacher are in place, then their actual location in the same room is not essential. This does however reinforce the condition that unless the parties can hear each other well, their means of communication are severely hampered. The visual link is secondary to the audio link in the communications process. The manner in which these links can function is however very dependent upon the ingenuity of the engineer.

One role of the current developments taking place in the new and innovative approaches to education is the development of tools which make it easier for the teacher to control the above processes. The following list give examples of these tools:-

  1. Authoring tools to speed up and simplify the production of courseware
  2. Authoring tools for the updating of a courseware
  3. Communications tools for group-ware or real-time sessions
  4. Multimedia production tools for handling multimedia including the production of video-clips
  5. Questionnaire tools for the production and assessment of questionnaire
  6. Modelling and simulation tools
  7. Tools for building knowledge pools and for extracting information from these knowledge pools.
  8. Management tools linking course management to student information databases.
  9. Tools maintaining student progress

Graphics     Multimedia      Virtual Environments      Visualisation      Contents