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

IBM Knowledge Systems

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

IBM Knowledge Systems

Article excerpt

If the sky's the limit for multimedia technology, IBM now has the bird's eye view.

Redefining a class of multimedia called "knowledge systems," IBM recently introduced two showcase multimedia applications that represent the largest integrated set of interactive courseware ever produced. Each application offers 180 hours of groundbreaking interactive education.

The first, The Illuminated Books and Manuscripts encompasses a complete "language arts system." The second, Columbus: Encounter, Discovery and Beyond, provides a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural exploration of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.

The Illuminated Books and Manuscripts is designed to bring powerful multimedia-based resources to the analysis and understanding of textual works. Based on a "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 Birmingham Jail"

* John J. Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks

* the American Declaration of Independence

ln illuminating these works, the system uses five levels of text augmentation. Together, these levels provide a multi-faceted library of reference tools keyed by "hot buttons" in the text that work like footnotes. When activated, each level will highlight portions of the text as live buttons; using a mouse pointing device, the student or teacher can then click on these buttons to bring up reference support. References are delivered in the most natural possible manner-frequently through documentary footage delivered in brief video clips.

The five levels of filters include:

* Definitions

* Context--cultural and historical references for words and phrases

* Interpretations--multiple oral readings and critical interpretations of sections

* Method--analyses of literary devices and patterns

* Link--universal themes and patterns in the work,

"Our paradigm is to show students how language works," says Allen DeBevoise, creative director of AND Communications, the IBM Business Partner that developed the "illuminated" programs. "Ultimately, the idea was that someone could use these tools to get more out of literature--to see all these levels at which we read and understand. It's a higher order literacy, if you will.

"Our early feedback tells us that teachers are very excited to be able to structure a class around the activity of analyzing literature, which has appeared dry for so long. Teachers can even use the system to add their own comments, illustrations and references to the five featured works-or to any of the many other literary works that are bundled with the system.

"Everyone talks about the power of multimedia to tap into our sensory intelligence," DeBevoise notes. "Ironically, what we're trying to do is use multimedia to empower text again."

* Columbus

Columbus: Encounter, Discovery and Beyond also allows the student or teacher to branch instantaneously from topic to topic in multimedia "content libraries." The mission of Columbus is a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural exploration of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.

"We want kids to become explorers, to take a first-person voyage into the period 1200-1600," says Robert Abel, president of Synapse Technologies, the IBM Business Partner that developed the program. …

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