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October 5 - 8, 1998

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Over the twenty years, computers have been playing a major role in reshaping “learning”.  Flexible multimedia information retrieval systems are a form of interactive computer-based instructional system that provides students, teachers, and researchers with the ability to access and mix various media according to rapidly changing needs.


On-Line delivery of language courses for On-campus Teaching by Veena Kumar

Over the past twenty years, education delivery systems are being constantly redefined and the computer has come to play a key role in implementating new teaching-learning strategies. However, little has been done in the area of language teaching. 

Teaching of languages in India, particularly English, is in a sad state to say the least. In India, English enjoys a special status: it does not fall under any of the conventional categories of mother-tongue, second language or foreign language. Yet, the professional India is totally dependent on it. Today, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to design an effective course in English language for students at the higher education level due to the great disparity in individual competencies. 

This paper shares a totally new concept of delivering English language course. 

Exclusively through the computer. The strong point of the concept is that it fits into the existing system with minimum disturbance. It aims to provide- 

  • Multi-level, visually rich course material in hypertext mode.
  • An entry-level diagnostic test.
  • Total autonomy to the learner to actually create his own course content.
  • Complete flexibility of time, pace & place.
  • Solid though somewhat unobtrusive support from the teacher/adviser
  • Three levels of evaluation (self-through questionnaires; peer-through e-mail and formal-to be corrected by the teacher with an option hard copies)
  • High flexibility in group size ranging from 1 to 100.
  • High economic viability.
  • The proposed system involved the following methodology-
  • The students follow the existing norms for registering for the course.
  • The course kept its conventional format (40 hour, 4 credit course - 3 lectures and one tutorial Per week) for study and evaluation.
  • X number of learning points are identified by the courseware team. Where a point value is assigned to each learning point depending on the complexity and practice time involved. Y number of points make 1 credit. A given course thus comprises points totaling up to 4 Y.
  • The teacher meets the entire class together on the first day, for mid-semester evaluation and for the end of the semester evaluation. He/She has 2 office hours per week to receive the students and discuss their problems.
  • At the beginning of the course, a student takes a diagnostic test which may or may not be computer-based. The test is evaluated by the teacher who lists out the areas where the learner needs help and identifies the most suitable learning  points. The student then picks areas according to his/her need/interest and a course outline is finalized.
  • The course schedule is worked by the student according to the pre-fixed evaluation dates,
  • The learner has the full liberty to start with any point of his/her choice. However. The teacher is there to monitor discreetly.
  • As soon as the learner is ready he/she can go ahead with self/peer evaluation. The computer maintains the scores obtained.
  • Once the identified learning points are completed, the student is ready for the final examination. \the evaluation may be a piece of composition, functional document such as a report or a scholastic endavour  such a research paper.
  • Basically well tried pedagogical principles and strategies of the open learning system are put to test for on-campus teaching with some very interesting results. The reasons for success is basically the fact that the learner is made to take the responsibility of his own learning. The material is presented in a pleasant and interesting manner promoting active learning. The skill-oriented or remedial level courses in other core subjects not only in humanities but also in pure and applied sciences. 


Lowcost Multimedia Technology and Education - An Indian Perspective by T. K. Ghoshal & A. B. Saha


Despite the ground-swell expectations that the eastern countries, and specifically India, would become the natural producers of multimedia contents, it does not seem to have materialised yet, despite a number of praiseworthy initiatives both by the private initiatives and also by the government. Had that expectation been fructified, it would have generated substantial employment and earnings in the formal and informal sector. This paper presents and analysis of some of the possible reasons for non-materialisation of the expectations, and steps already taken to arrest the situation and further steps that would be  necessary in order to kick-start the Indian multimedia content creation industry. 

The primary factors for inadequate growth in multimedia (contents) industry which even a cursory analysis would reveal are: (I) Globally, the growth of the interactive multimedia content market has lost momentum (if not shrinking in dimension), and (ii) Non-existent indigeneous mass market for multimedia products/services. Both of these, therefore, may emply sufficient braking against the self-generation of critical take-off momentum. 

The reasons behind the global shrinking of  the interactive multimedia has been analysed and it is predicted that technological innovations would tend to correct the situation in the near term . Even with a reduced rate of  global market growth, segment exist for substantial Indian contribution. The first of such segments could be Technical Education and  Training where focused marketing/promotional efforts may generate immediate returns. The second, called the culture and leisure segment, is to some extent dependent on the second most crucial factor regarding inadequacy of the local demand. 

Reasons for the inadequacy of indigeneous market for multimedia contents have been analysed and grouped into supply-side constraints and the demand side constrains. These constraints mutually reinforce each other and are appearing as a typical chicken and egg syndrome. The Department of Electronics, Government of India, initiative for low cost multimedia content creation envisages to alleviate the supply side constraints and conveniently assumes that the demand side would take care of itself by the generated market forces. The present paper argues against the above assumption and proposes separate measures to tackle the demand side constraints as well. 

A proposal, for "Integrating Social Development with Multimedia" is articulated for mitigating the demand side constraints. It has been argued that by suitable networking of the district level Libraries, Field Publicity wings, Schools, Municipal Museums, NGO's, and post-literacy programs, a substantial and growing demand for low cost multimedia contents could be unleashed. The technical and economic aspect of the scheme is discussed. 

It has been shown that as a social informal education program this scheme has excellent cost benefit quotient, augments and enriches utilisation of existing facilities and would tend to improve the people's participation in various levels. This scheme is also expected to generate local enthusiasm in contributing to the multimedia depository and thereby help to draw attention to heritages and culture. 

Apart from the social contribution, the scheme is likely to boot-strap greater availability of skilled producers and technicians, country-wide maintenance facility for multimedia delivery platforms, market for better quality multimedia educational and entertainment programs and contribute to the growth of multimedia content creation industry.


Multimedia in Education - Rock Art by B. M. Pande & Abhay M. Lal


To say that multimedia has enormous possibilities as an aid in education is stating the obvious. At the same time, it also requires reshaping and, if one may say, reconditioning the approach and attitude while preparing for and presenting multimedia package for the user. 

A fundamental/basic difference between multimedia based and the conventional system of learning is that in the conventional system, the book is basic material which follows its own step-by-step structure and the contents are accordingly structured. In multimedia, on the other hand, the content structuring has to be altered so as to incorporate the self-paced and non-liner, interactive exposition possibility, besides, the fact that the audio/visual material plays a greater role in multimedia than in a book. 

The paper seeks to present the requirements for the content design in developing an interactive computer aided learning tool. The paper will be supported by a demo. 


Scran: a case study of Networked Cultural Multimedia for Education


SCRAN, the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network, is a Millennium project, spending fifteen million pounds sterling to build a networked multimedia resource base for the teaching and celebration of human history and material culture in Scotland. Although based on the museums, archives, libraries and built heritage of Scotland, SCRAN's prime concern is not with conservation, nor with documentation, but with educational access. SCRAN is an electronic rights management project, grant-aiding the digitisation of assets in exchange for a non-exclusive educational license.  Contributing institutions gain a new digital asset which they can exploit commercially if they wish, while teachers and students at SCRAN member institutions can download educational resources, copyright cleared for unlimited use. In addition to this service for formal education, any member of the public, anywhere in the world, is allowed access to a thumbnail image of each asset, plus full textual documentation.  This documentation is based on conventional library and museum records, but supplemented by caption material specifically written to be understandable by the intelligent lay reader, and to build into a vast online encyclopaedia. In this respect SCRAN is also a resource disclosure and delivery project: SCRAN acts as a Metadata repository, pointing to hundreds or thousands of  digitised assets in its own resource base and to millions of objects in the real world, as well as acting as a gateway to other electronic collections.  SCRAN is thus an early implementer of emerging standards, both the Z39-50 Search and Retrieve Protocol and the Dublin Core Metadata Element set for cross domain access. The SCRAN resource base at http://www.scran.ac.uk/ offers several access routes, depending on the needs of the end-user.  "Quick Search" presents a single letterbox into which the user can insert a simple keyword or a complex Boolean search expression, while "Assisted Search" answers questions of the Who, What, Where, When variety.  Both searches are good for retrieving large numbers of records on a particular subject. "Curriculum Navigator" on the other hand, allows teachers to locate where their class is within the National Curriculum, and then suggests a "virtual resource pack", pre-selected by educationalists, of materials useful in the teaching of that topic.  Further, more graphical, interfaces involving timelines and maps, are under development. In its first two years, SCRAN has built a resource base giving WWW access to hundreds of thousands of cultural records from throughout Scotland, many including images, sound and film clips and virtual reality, ready formatted and copyright cleared for classroom use.  SCRAN's first educational products are already in service, and one of them, the "Scottish People" CD-ROM, has been distributed to every school in Scotland. 

The United Kingdom Government reports "Towards the Learning Society: the National Grid for Learning" and "New Library:  the People's Network", envisage a future where Information and Communication Technology will be increasingly harnessed to support schooling, training, lifelong learning and education in its widest sense.  SCRAN is becoming seen by many as a prototype of the Educational Content Generators that will be needed on the National Grid.


The future of Multimedia in Arts and Humanities by R. Narasimhan

Human communication has come a long way. It has traversed a path from cave paintings (single mode) to present day multimedia (multi-mode). The development of technology, which has the capacity to integrate different media; has in the process, generated the possibility of making the process of communication for the developer (sender) and user (receiver) a richer experience. 

Multimedia essentially consists of a content database which can be accessed by the user following a navigation path of his choice. The content database can have ingredients made up of audio, video, text, graphics, animation etc. These can be seen/heard by the user as he navigates through the database not only along a path of his choice but also at his own pace. The principal design issues related to the generation of such a multimedia database are (a) collection and assembling the content, and (b) planning the navigation strategies. These issues have to be addressed keeping in mind the end-objective of the multimedia presentation as well as the end-user. Other issues related to the creation of such databases are (a) ownership of intellectual property, and (b) copyright of the content. On the other hand navigation issues to be addressed are whether the navigation should guide the user along a predetermined path or give him the freedom of exploring the database on his/her own. These is also the valid question to be asked: Is there any value addition in going to multimedia from print or video? Every medium of communication needs a substrate which acts as the carrier of the message. Forecasts are, that such multimedia could be downloaded from the net as and when required as opposed to the storage on CDs. For India to be able to put such technology to use what would be the infrastructure required? Which areas could multimedia rejuvenate and nurture; in a culturally rich country like India? 

This lecture will discuss the above issues, and some of the developments being done today in India, in the area of multimedia.


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