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

MegaMedia: The Future, Soon

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

MegaMedia: The Future, Soon

Article excerpt

This October, IBM will introduce a revolutionary new class of interactive multimedia. Called "MegaMedia" or "knowledge systems," the class represents the largest integrated set of interactive courseware ever produced.

MegaMedia will launch with two distinct knowledge systems, each offering 180 hours of interactive learning. The first, Illuminated Books and Manuscripts represents a complete yet extensible "language arts system." The second, The Discovers Series, is built on a "concept engine." The initial title is Columbus: Encounter, Discovery and Beyond. Both systems make groundbreaking use of interactive multimedia to enhance learning, redefining the limits to multimedia's application in education.

Illuminated Books and Manuscripts is an ongoing creation of AND Communications, an IBM Business Partner. Development is led by Allen DeBevoise, creative director, and Morgan Newman, architech. Columbus is an ongoing creation of Synapse Technologies, also an IBM Business Partner. Development at Synapse is led by Robert Abel, president.

* Illuminated Manuscripts

Illuminated Books and Manuscripts is designed to bring powerful multimedia-based resources to the analysis and understanding of textual works. Based on a multifaceted "text augmentation" tool, the system concentrates, its resources on the "illumination" of five classic works of literature: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Alfred Tennyson's "Ulysses," Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," John J. Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks and the American Declaration of Independence. These works were selected to provide a broad cross-section of literary style and genre. The five genres include theater, poetry, personal letter, biography and political document.

"In illuminating these works, we use five levels--or filters--of text augmentation," says DeBevoise.

"First, there is a Definitions level. In reading 'Ulysses,' for example, the first thing a student might stumble upon is what a particular word might mean. When activated by the student, the Definitions filter marks up (highlights) all the words likely to be problems. If the student selects one of these words, the system responds by presenting a definition in text and audio, with illustrations when appropriate. We draw from four different electronic dictionaries: a traditional dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, a Shakespearean dictionary, and a dictionary for black street slang.

"The second level is Context. It assumes you know what the words mean, but that you might not understand certain cultural and historical references. Context might display a scholar who explains the relevant issues; Context an also display text, such as sections of the Odyssey.

"The third level is Interpretations. It divides the work up into logical units--17 for 'Birmingham,' for example--and presents a choice. You can hear the section read by various professional actors, you can watch actors perform it, or you can get opinions from different 'experts' as to what the secion means.

"In supplying interpretations, we stress the diversity of viewpoints that can be brought to a single work. The readings, for example, not only employ the variant renderings of several actors, but sometimes multiple interpretations by the same actor, with different emphasis and different implied meaning. Meanwhile, the 'opinions' menu presents a range of experts, from scholars to other writers to people who might have been involved in certain events. 'Birmingham," for example, interviews Andrew Young, who was with King at the time. We chose leading, relevant people who didn't necessarily agree with each other to reinforce the point that very thoughtful people can think very differently about the same subject.

"A fourth level is called Method. Method marks up the work to highlight its construction--its literary devices and patterns.

"The fifth level we call Link, which is about identifying universal themes and ideas in the work. …

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