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

Authoring Systems: A Tried and True Alternative

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

Authoring Systems: A Tried and True Alternative

Article excerpt

Authoring systems have been around for years. And as educators well know, so has multimedia. These two genres became integrated at least three years ago, and as far back as five.

Recently multimedia has taken off like wildfire in commercial, mass-market areas. The effects this has had on education are numerous and deserve clarification. The state of multimedia implementation in educational authoring is quite interesting and will be covered as well.

* A New Class of Software

This year many programs seem to be authoring systems, yet on closer scrutiny lack the student tracking, mastery, scoring and data management functions inherent to the definition of authoring systems as understood by educators for years.

These new hybrid products are best described as "multimedia authoring tools." They allow instructors and administrators to create multimedia presentations and lessons--complete with color, buttons for branching, animation, digitized still images, and support for videodisc and VHS players. These presentation products are a reaction to the mainstreaming of multimedia, as they initially target business presenters.

They are viable tools for educators. They are not, however, true authoring systems. Look for future articles that will devote time and space to this burgeoning genre of multimedia software.

* And Now a Word From...

Educators and administrators around the country are using authoring systems in a multitude of applications. The following is a smattering of such progressive software and courseware authors. As an added bonus, authoring systems developers were asked the question: What is the one best-selling feature of your program? Their responses are also listed here in italics.

It contains 16 instructional strategies that are organized the way teachers think. SAM V from Technology Applications Group, Inc. is a menu-driven authoring system that boasts built-in text, graphics, logic, character set, pattern, music and videodisc editors. The logic editor sports 16 instructional strategies or templates, such as multiple choice, single fill-in, forms fill-in, list of answers and others, which are page-oriented. Instructors fill in the prompts so that each page becomes a learning event.

At the Stern School of Business at New York University, Roger Dunbar is a professor of management who has been using SAM IV for the DOS platform since the second quarter of 1991. With help from a Title VI grant from the Department of Education, which encourages the development of mutually advantageous software for business and education, he and others have developed software that is used not only by international business students, but managers from participating businesses and corporations.

The program, Expatriate Profile, helps managers going oversees to be aware of numerous cross-cultural issues. Pairs of countries were classified according to pre-determined indices during the six months of research and planning that went into developing the program. Interactive and diagnostic in nature, it boasts color, graphics, tables and mini tests plus took about one year to get into a usable form.

Expatriate Profile has been used in Stern's International Comparative Management course, as well as by students at other schools; approximately 500 have been exposed to the program thus far. Students are not graded on their performance, however reports describe where they are having difficulties and may want to seek extra help.

Dunbar plans to author two more programs along the same vein. The second will cover issues expatriates will deal with once oversees, how to seek help, and contacts to keep back in the states. The last in the series will deal with problems common to repatriating.

Separation of structure from content. AimTech Corp's IconAuthor 4.0 uses visual programming techniques to help instructors build courseware by first having them define structures then add instructional content. …

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