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.
Course Historical Background
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,
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.
Participation Rules, Guidelines, and Expectations
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
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.
Grading: Grades are based on the following grading scheme:
|Final Project and Presentation||20%|
An overall average of 90 and above will earn A grade.
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.
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.
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.
We will be using a number of textbooks in this class. To see the complete list,
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:
- 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.
- To recognize the learning styles of potential users of our projects
and incorporate methodologies to enhance the effectiveness of the
learning of the material.
- 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
- Class lectures/discussions and software demonstrations
- Hands-on experiments with the software/hardware
- Navigating the Internet and the world wide web
- Creating tests to identify the learning styles of our audience
- 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
Intellectual property rights
Copyright, licensing, and production
- Part II: Internet Navigation
- World Wide Web
ftp, email, telnet, ...
HTML, JAVA, VRML, ActiveX
- Part III: Learning/Teaching
- Learning styles
- 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
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
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.