Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Planning and Developing a Multimedia Learning Environment

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Planning and Developing a Multimedia Learning Environment

Article excerpt

Planning and Developing a Multimedia Learning Environment

The office of Learning Technologies is perhaps best known in Indiana for its Multimedia Electronic Classroom, dedicated in 1989. The classroom is an enhanced learning environment, integrating several media and controls through a simple-to-use menu on a touchscreen. Available technologies include over 50 audio, video and computing devices that output signals onto three shared projection screens. The classroom is especially attractive to faculty because of a university-designed computer that controls all the complicated media switching, room-lighting intensity, sound reinforcement and playback volume. Most instructors can learn to use the system in about 15 minutes and begin to effectively choreograph presentations incorporating many technologies and display options.

However the Multimedia Electronic Classroom is only part of a larger plan at Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The IUPUI technology plan focuses on existing and emerging multimedia applications. An overview of the implementation strategy, including organizational requirements, conceptual designs and multimedia components, is described below.

The Context

IUPUI is the capital campus of Indiana University and Purdue University. Only 20 years old, it builds on the tradition of both institutions and offers the most comprehensive array of academic programs in the state. It includes the Indiana University Medical Center and awards degrees in the name of both Indiana University and Purdue University ranging from associate's to doctorate's in nearly 200 programs. There are 40 academic and medical buildings spread over 370 acres with approximately 250 seminar rooms, classrooms and lecture halls.

Two years ago IUPUI completed a comprehensive self-study that resulted in an academic plan for the campus to the year 2000. The plan recognizes the potential of technology for improving learning and defines the role of the campus in helping Indiana's higher-education community, the capital city and the state in general to adapt "to a new, more complex global environment."

The convergence of video, audio, data and print technologies forces educators to reconsider traditional organizational patterns.

"IUPUI is likely to play a major role as a nerve center for the broad use and adaptation of electronic technology to information distribution and use. Involving libraries, computer networks, interactive video, graphics and other media, the learning center of the next century is certain to make available applications tailored for home or office use. As a new campus still developing its electronic infrastructure, IUPUI has already begun to prepare itself for a different, though still uncertain, form of education."[1]

Soon after completing the plan, IUPUI established the office of Learning Technologies to help provide centralized academic leadership and operational support. It joined the offices of Computing Services, University Libraries and Telecommunication Services in rounding out the information and technology support team.

Framework and Implementation

Multimedia provides unparalleled opportunities for learning, but the convergence of video, audio, data and print technologies forces educators to reconsider traditional organizational patterns. It soon became apparent that planning a multimedia electronic campus required an administrative structure fundamentally different from what existed. Close cooperation and coordination between media, telecommunication, computing and library units was essential. Therefore, these separately managed units formed a partnership to consider the impact of converging technologies and to develop a common plan. The four units are collectively known as Integrated Technologies.

Figure 1 illustrates how the traditional information support organizations at IUPUI compare with the functional organization of Integrated Technologies. …

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