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I became interested in the idea of teaching a course in multimedia design in early 90's. By 1995, Netscape browser was showing the early signs of a future trend in Web-based learning environment. With entrance of Microsoft into the browser world and development of Internet Explorer based on an earlier version of a browser called Mosaic, the pace of development took a major leap.  in few short years, earlier browsers gave way to the most sophisticated browsers of today; information technology age was entering some uncharted universe. Computers have become faster and more capable in integrating different media.  Wireless networking, broadband, much better operating systems and more readily available access along with significant drop in computer costs have created a fertile ground for Web-based learning and teaching.

Today, countless of Web documents are readily available around the world.  Traditional libraries are used less for research than before. Students from early years of school learn and know how to find resources on Internet.  Need-based learning is in full swing where you learn what you need, when you need it and mostly on Internet and without paying anything for it.  However, as a generation of computer savvy students enter schools, majority of teachers have difficulty communicating with their students.  Often, instead of taking advantage of what their students bring to the class, integrate it into their curriculum and course plan, they tend to discourage any innovation that may challenge their leadership in the classroom. Current research indicate a significant problem in this area that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Teacher training for the digital age must become a high priority of the country.

A relevant question is whether a course in Multimedia Instructional design has a role in an engineering curriculum or not.  Engineers, whether they are designers, planners, manufacturers, educators, or managers, they all one thing in common: they must present their work, convince others on the merits of their proposed solutions and train others how to use them.  This requires a good deal of understanding of how to communicate your ideas.  It also requires a good deal of understanding of how people learn. And in the age of digital world, it really means communicating through multimedia means, preferably Web-based.

IEGR 455: Multimedia Instructional Design course is intended to provide such a platform for all students, especially engineering student to achieve some level of competency in creating Web-based multimedia projects that are instructional in nature.  Elements of this course have been selected to help students achieve that level of competency.

Course Historical Background

The class initially was set up with a couple of 486-66 PCs with 16 Meg RAM, 500 Meg Hard Drive and generic graphic cards, running Windows 3.1 operating system--nothing fancy at all. These two computers were located in the Automation and Robotics Lab where I taught my Robotics class. There were also two other PCs available for the class. One was my office computer, a double Pentium, 32 Meg RAM, 2 Gig HD with Diamond Stealth graphic card and running Windows NT 3.1 and later  3.51 versions. The other one was a 486-100 laptop with 32 Meg of RAM and 500 Meg HD. The laptop was often used for my lectures using different presentation software such as PowerPoint, Freelance Graphics, Harvard Presentation Graphics, etc. After my lectures, students were divided into smaller groups and did some hands-on work with the computers.

The course was offered as IEGR 499: Special Topics in Spring 1996, a usual practice at our department for offering newly developed courses. Starting Fall 1996 semester, however, the course received its permanent number and title. We improved our computers for Fall 1996 and upgraded two of the computers to Pentium 100 and added another 486-80 PC to it. With three PCs, a laptop, and my double Pentium office computer available to the students (during class time) we had a much more productive class the second time. However, there were many obstacles on our way.

The most important was to maintain the computers for the class. Fortunately, Mr. Mahmud, the Department engineering staff did an excellent job in maintaining the computers. Others helped as well. For example, when someone stole the 16 Meg RAM from our PCs, Professor Peter Anderson from Electrical Engineering Department bought them from his own money such that the class could continue with little disruption. The second problem was to find a way to teach the course using single copies of most of the software we were using. To accommodate that, I designed the course around the freeware and/or shareware software as much as it was possible. That strategy helped us in maintaining a reasonable pool of software for the class. This was obviously not possible when we had to use the authoring tools such as Director and Authorware. With only one registered copy available in the lab, I had to spend several hours daily to prepare my once a week lecture and demonstration in the lab. Student use was based on first-come-first-served rule with the exception that if someone was waiting in line, the usage was limited to one hour at a time.

To cope with the limited number of computers and software licenses, I limited the number of class participants to 10. Any other interested student could also attend the class but was not officially registered in the class. Priority for the use of the equipment has always been with the registered class participants. The controlled enrollment also allowed us to introduce some basic conditions for the class to the students prior to registration. So whoever registered for the course knew in advance what to expect.

The situation dramatically changed in Fall of 97 when engineering school labs were equipped with more PCs. That improvements, made it possible to increase the participants to 15, although the problem of licenses still remained to be resolved. The Fall 1997 course followed the same basic concepts, but included many new additions either needed for the new audience of the course or dictated by the further advances in areas covered by this course. In previous offerings of this course, the course was designed around the students that had enrolled in the class. They attended the class, and were supervised during hands-on practice sessions. I relied very much on class presentations and asked the participants to provide a summary of my lectures, and many other documents needed for the class.

During Fall 97, in addition to those participants, we had three other groups of participants. One group was again from Morgan State University. They include mostly faculty and few administrators across the campus who had indicated that they would like to take the course. Because of their physical presence in Morgan campus some of them were able to attend the class on the days it was offered and used the equipment in the lab. While some others followed the course on the web as Active or Interested Participants.

The other two groups included those who were neither Morgan State University Students, nor faculty/administrators. They formed two separate groups. One group consisted of those who were interested in the ideas of the course, but did not have time or access to the equipment needed to go through the course. This group was identified as 'Interested' participants. They followed the course progress by browsing through the web pages developed for the class. There were a limited level of interaction between instructor and the Interested Participants.

The other group which was a focus of research for me was the 'Active' participants group. They were required to go through the class similar to engineering students who were enrolled in the class. They posted their assignments on the web pages they created for the class. They received limited technical help from a resident class student assigned to them and they participated in continuous evaluation of the course. The course was also offered during Fall 1998 and Spring 1999, but no announcements were made to outside participants. In 1998 I was also able to secure a Silicon Graphics Octane server that acted as our multimedia server thus bypassing the limitations existed on the engineering school server.  Internally the department also placed the course in the list of its core courses, broke it down to two courses, IEGR 385 and IEGR 485.  Fall 2000 was the last time that I taught the course as IEGR 385.  I was on leave on Fall 2001 and Spring 2002.  During this period the course number changed again to IEGR 455 and Dr. Bronner taught the course. He again offered the course in Fall 2002 and that was the last time the course was taught.  

Participation Rules, Guidelines, and Expectations
Grading: Grades are based on the following grading scheme:
Weekly Projects60%
Final Project and Presentation20%

An overall average of 90 and above will earn A grade.
An overall average of 80 and above but less than 90 will receive a B.
An overall average of 70 and above but less than 80 will receive a C.
An overall average of lower than 70 will receive an F.

Labs: All participants are required to have access to reasonably fast and powerful computers with Windows XP or 2000 operating systems. Two labs are available for you in addition to general labs of the school.  SEB 307 can be used for most general work.  SEB 103 has copies of special software that need to be used for this class.  Both labs are dedicated labs and not open to public. SEB 307 maybe available daily (please check the posted schedule on its door for available times).  SEB 103 is available during the day by asking Mr. Mahmud to open it. Neither labs should be counted on to be open after hours or during weekends.
Projects: All participants are required to have a faculty sponsor and a course assigned to them. participants should, in close coordination with the faculty sponsor, develop the homepages for the course assigned to them. A participant will then implement projects, and homework assignments toward the development of the course Web page. Please talk to the faculty of the department and see whether you can identify a faculty sponsor and a course. A good selection is usually a faculty who will be willing to spend time with you and provide you with documentations related to the course. A good course will be a course that you have already taken and have interest in the subject matter. A course that is planned for the next semester is a good choice. If you can not find a faculty sponsor, I will be your faculty sponsor and will assign you one of my courses.
Textbooks: We will be using a number of textbooks in this class. To see the complete list, click here.
Attendance: Please note that in this class, as to all my other classes, attendance is not mandatory. However, if for any reason you miss the class, you must keep up with the progress of the class by getting help from your fellow students. I have loaded a document called Keys to Success in my classes that might give you indications of my expectation from a student taking my classes. It might be a good idea to read it at least once.
In offering this course we hope to achieve the following three goals:
  1. To become proficient enough in the area of multimedia design to be able to develop prototype multimedia projects with emphasis on educational topics which are marketable in real world environments.
  2. To recognize the learning styles of potential users of our projects and incorporate methodologies to enhance the effectiveness of the learning of the material.
  3. To explore the tremendous possibilities of the Internet and world wide web in order to keep abreast of the rapidly changing work environment.

We hope to achieve those goals through at least through five different approaches:

  1. Class lectures/discussions and software demonstrations
  2. Hands-on experiments with the software/hardware
  3. Navigating the Internet and the world wide web
  4. Creating tests to identify the learning styles of our audience
  5. Creating multimedia projects on CD-ROM.

The amount of information that can be covered in a class with such ambitious goals as we have stated, could take several semester to fully explore. However, for a semester-length course, a line must be drawn somewhere. Rather than identifying a strict outline, listed below is a wish list set of topics that we plan to cover in class. The level of detail that we cover depends on the class interest. If aggressive studying/practicing are pursued with regard to the course material, we may have a chance to get to more advanced topics. Otherwise, a general discussion about the topics will be presented in as much detail as time permits. Here is the list of general topics to be covered (not necessarily in order):

Part I: Delivery Technologies
Multimedia platforms
Peripherals (sound cards, video cards, CD-ROM, CD-R)
Multimedia in Windows 95 environment
Design, Content Provisions, and Production Media Management
Compression data standards( sound, video, image, text)
Data capture (text, sound, ..)
Development authoring tools
Pedagogical issues
Intellectual property rights
Copyright, licensing, and production
Part II: Internet Navigation
World Wide Web
ftp, email, telnet, ...
Presentation software
Part III: Learning/Teaching
Learning styles
Teaching methodologies
Effective communication
Part IV: Lab Projects
Creating and editing sounds, images, movies
Creating 3-D animation using Truespace
Constructing Story boards
Creating multimedia projects using authoring tools
Creating and maintaining homepages using advanced HTML techniques
CD-ROM production
Instructional Method
The delivery system relies heavily on use of the world wide web. In fact, most communication outside the class is conducted through Internet. All assignments are posted on the participants' homepages and all directions can be found on the course web pages. This is true for all in-class and active participants. This is a paperless class. I do not necessarily encourage anybody to buy a specific textbook. I believe most of what you may need can be found on the Internet. However, people have different learning styles, and for some, it may be easier to read from a textbook. I will provide you with useful links that may help you in identifying additional resources related to the subjects being covered in that week.  Class presentation consists of a lecture in the first half of the class, and after a 15-minute break, the class resumes with a demonstration of a related software or hardware and it is followed by some hands-on practice. The participants are then assigned a work to be completed by the next class period. Each participants assignment should be posted on the net according to the guidelines set for the due date, time, etc.
For this semester we will be using Yahoogroups as the medium of communication.  A group has been set up (IEGR455) and all class participants should use it for communication.  I am also asking all class members to use their yahoo emails for communication in this class.  All public emails about the class should be posted to the group by sending it to  All postings will be available on the Web.  If you do not have a Yahoo email, please get one.  It is free and you need it for this class. The course Web page will still be the main source for the class materials.