Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

An Environment for the Annotation of Multimedia Material by Younger Children

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

An Environment for the Annotation of Multimedia Material by Younger Children

Article excerpt

The exceptional advent of interactive multimedia applications has led to the need for their exploitation for educational purposes. In this article, the design and implementation of a multimedia annotation environment for young children is presented. This environment was developed to provide children aged 4 - 8 with the opportunity to reflect upon and annotate episodes from their everyday life. The aim was to exploit the latest technological developments in the field of multimedia, to build an annotation environment where children would be able to add multimedia annotations to videos. Apart from the environment itself, design choices, interface realization, as well as media handling methods and performance issues are also presented.


The fields of multimedia editing and annotating are rapidly evolving fields in the development of Instructional Computer Technology. Multimedia editing, to begin with, has been recognized as a widely promising tool in educational procedures. Several commercial authoring applications in the field of multimedia editing and storyboarding for younger children exist. However, educational software rarely offers either the child or the adult facilitator options for "deeper interaction" and it hardly ever exploits powerful computer technologies.

In this article the implementation work that took place within the framework of project "Today's Stories," part of the Long Term Research Task 4.4, (i3-ESE, Project Nr. 29312) is presented. According to the "Today's Stories" project definition (Today's Stories, 2001), one technological objective of the project is the development a multimedia editing tool that enables children to annotate a recorded episode with what they see, think, and experience. Annotation uses expressive media, symbols (e.g., stylised faces to express various emotional states), or sound-effects (e.g., special effects to highlight for example surprise or fear). The resulting multi-medial document is to be kept as a memory and a document for future reference. This work also took into consideration, the pedagogical issues that are involved in the nature and use of such an application, as they have been approached by the "Today's Stories" consortium (see also the notion of personal autonomy as a central educational aim in (Aviram, 1993)).

For the implementation of this video exploring and annotating application, referred to from now on as the Diary Composer (DC), the Java platform was selected. More specifically, the Java 2 SDK, Standard Edition, v 1.2.2, developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. and the Java Media Framework (JMF) 2.0 API developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. and IBM were used.

Concerning efforts related to our work, a worthwhile approach to the standardization of multimedia annotating is the work of the EBU/SMPTE Task Force for Harmonized Standards for the Exchange of Program Material as Bit streams. The Task Force (EBU/SMPTE, 1998) gives a thorough terminology and structure for how physical media (video, audio, data of various kinds including captions, graphics, still images, text, etc.) can be linked together, for streaming program material and stored in file systems and on servers.

Another attempt towards the direction of standards for multimedia annotation was made by the Workshop on MMI (Metadata for Multimedia Information) conducted by the European Committee for Standardisation and Information Society Standardisation System (CEN/ISSS) from February, 1998 until June, 1999. The workshop resulted in deliverables on the requirements and a model for metadata for multimedia information.

MPEG-7 is an ISO/IEC standard being developed by Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), formally named "Multimedia Content Description Interface." It aims to create a standard for describing the multimedia content data that will support some degree of interpretation of the information's meaning, which can be passed onto, or accessed by, a device or a computer code. …

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