More Multimedia

Not surprisingly, there is much more news about what is happening in multimedia at Indiana University than we can feature in this issue. Here are a few brief mentions of other novel approaches to using technology in the classroom.

Living in the Information Age

Information dominates our lives at the end of the twentieth century, but now there is a course that introduces students to the array of technology and information services that are overwhelming us. Michael Yoakam, director of distance learning for the School of Continuing Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, teaches an undergraduate telecommunications course offered to students around the state. Over the past two years, students from Gary, Batesville, Columbus, Logansport, Madison, Versailles, and Greensburg have enrolled in the course, along with students on the Bloomington campus. Throughout the course, students learn about the various information technologies that are now available by using them to complete the work in the class. The class sessions rely on satellite and videoconferencing technology. Students communicate with each other using e-mail and computer conferencing, conduct research by using online information services and the World Wide Web, and submit their work by fax or via computer. Meetings with the instructor are held by phone. By the end of the course, students are expected to have developed their technology skills and to have mastered the concepts and issues that are driving the development of new information technologies. For more information, contact Michael Yoakam (812 855-8995; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:


Bella! is not the Italian department's new Web server. No, Bella! is IUB School of Business Professor of Accounting Louis Biagioni's new multimedia instructional software. It won't make your cappuccino, but it will make accounting a little more interesting. Bella! (Biagioni's Electronic Learning Lab for Accounting) is a multimedia instructional package developed jointly by Biagioni and Technology Services in the School of Business. Twelve separate modules link together a semester's worth of accounting concepts and computer tools covering topics from cost-volume-profit analysis to lease accounting. Bella! was developed using Multimedia Toolbook and Lotus 1-2-3. The program also integrates a general journal ("filling out the books") accounting package called FINSTAG developed in Visual Basic by the Teaching and Learning Technologies Laboratory at IUB. Bella! can be accessed from any IUB public computing site through the Instruct Windows server. For more information, contact Louis Biagioni (812-855-2658;


Action is the word! Using Action, 3-dimensional animation software, Nelson DeLeon, an associate professor of chemistry at Indiana University Northwest, created more than fifty movies on a variety of scientific concepts in general chemistry. Seeing the opportunity to enhance and modify the way basic science is taught, DeLeon used the movies to animate abstract and complex scientific concepts to increase students' understanding, retention, and appreciation of the material. Action has allowed him to provide a dynamic presentation of lecture notes, including calculations. For more information, contact Nelson DeLeon (219-980 6740).

Catching Early Problems with Adaptive Testing

An important problem facing institutions of higher education is alerting secondary students to the rigors of post-secondary work. While high school counselors spend a good deal of their time preaching the benefits of taking challenging courses, these voices of reason are not always heard. What, if anything, can be done to address this problem? One possible solution is to get students to preview college-level work through placement tests taken during the junior year of high school. Feedback from the tests could include a report on readiness for college course work and a revised high school curriculum if remediation were required. A barrier to administering placement tests of this kind has been the college/university's need to control security of the test yet make it available to those who would like to conduct a self assessment.

Using Internet and World Wide Web technology to make placement tests available to an urban high school, Mark Shermis, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and director of the IUPUI Testing Center, has helped develop computerized adaptive tests in the basic skills areas. These tests have several advantages over traditional paper-and-pencil tests: shorter test administration times, better ability estimation, and a perception by most examinees that the test is challenging yet not overwhelming. The adaptive testing package can be accessed via the Web through a common gateway interface on a server at IUPUI. For more information, contact Mark Shermis (317-278-2288; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

BioTech: A Biology/Chemistry Web Tool

BioTech is a hybrid biology/chemistry educational resource and research tool on the World Wide Web developed by Gary Wiggins, director of the Chemical Information Center and head of the Chemistry Library; Lucy Snyder, a technical writer; and others. A learning tool that will attract students to IU and enrich the public's knowledge of biology and biochemistry issues in the world today, BioTech is also a research tool for working scientists. By providing information about resources, as well as avenues for further exploration, it opens the doors of biotechnology resources to postsecondary students, researchers, and faculty. The site includes a searchable 1,700-plus-word glossary with chemical structure illustrations, illustrated educational guides, a searchable database of sites, a "consumer reports"Šstyle section on scientific databases, categorized pages of annotated links to other sites, a virtual textbook chapter on glycolysis, and, soon, a special educational section on plant compounds used to treat cancer. The Title II-D grant under which this project falls was awarded to four Midwestern universities, one of which was Indiana University, by the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, contact Lucy Snyder (812-855-9452; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

Physiology Explorer

Assistant Professors of Physiology and Biophysics Whitney Reilly and Mark Ronan and Laboratory Director Jw Ramsey wanted to increase the opportunities for active learning and discussion in P215 Basic Human Physiology laboratory. For many laboratory topics, students listened to lectures or watched the laboratory instructors perform demonstrations; student participation in data collection and analysis was limited. The P215 team also wanted to devise a way to provide students with supporting materials (text, graphics, and sound) for particular laboratory exercises. The instructional goals of the P215 staff, the availability of computerized data acquisition and analysis systems for physiology, and the ability to integrate those systems with a multimedia "shell" to provide supporting materials resulted in the development of Physiology Explorer. Physiology Explorer consists of a SuperCard engine that provides text, graphics, and sound, as well as links to MacLab hardware and software. Students begin a lesson or experiment by reading the background material. Clicking on key words or concepts brings up explanatory graphics, QuickTime movies, or additional text. A glossary with sound is also available. After becoming familiar with the topic, the students can click on links to start the MacLab hardware and software that allows them to collect a range of physiological data on themselves or their classmates. They can print out the data and then analyze and discuss it; the text, graphics, and other materials are always available for reference and review. Student reactions to Physiology Explorer have been positive. Students find it easy to use and are enthusiastic about collecting their "own" data. The laboratory instructors also see benefits to the program; it allows them to focus less on lecturing and more on discussing important concepts with students. For more information, contact Whitney Reilly (812-855-7116; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:


Most people hate taxes, but not accounting professor Jerrold J. Stern. Stern has created TaxTools, a series of computer-based modules to accompany his textbook Tax Concepts and Analysis. TaxTools incorporates the latest in tax analysis techniques with a variety of software tools to help undergraduate and M.B.A. students practice using information they are learning about taxes. TaxTools helps make complex tax planning issues easier to understand, more relevant, and even fun. For more information, contact Jerrold Stern (812-855-2643; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

Urban Fantasies

Integrating computer simulations and other forms of technology into the classroom is an excellent way to encourage students to think actively, creatively, and realistically about issues and themes discussed in an urban politics class. Yvette Alex-Assensoh, an assistant professor of political science at IUB, uses SimCity 2000, commercially available software made by Maxis, to allow students to learn about the challenges and consequences of urban policy making through role playing; for example, students can become individuals from the mayor's office, the police department, the zoning commission, or the school superintendent's office. What really makes SimCity 2000 useful for students is the dynamic aspect of the game; it places students in control of their own cities, and the program responds to students' decisions and commands. Since SimCity 2000 gives instant feedback, students intuitively learn about the consequences of their actions and the interrelations among different aspects of the city simply by playing the game. SimCity 2000 might also prove useful for various aspects of courses in areas such as urban planning, architecture, public affairs/ administration, and geography. For more information, contact Yvette Alex-Assensoh (812-855-6308; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

Neural Networks

In the last ten years, neural networks, artificial intelligence systems, have become both powerful practical tools to approach difficult classification, optimization, and signal processing problems and serious paradigms for computation in parallel machines and biological networks. Samir Sayegh, an associate professor of physics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, teaches an introductory course in the main concepts and algorithms of neural networks that avoids or minimizes lengthy derivations and formal proofs and emphasizes the connection between the "artificial" network approaches and their neurobiological counterparts. The following topics are covered: the brain and its simpler representations; neural computational elements and algorithms; perception; adaptive linear-element backpropagation; Hopfield model, associative memory, and optimization; Kohonen networks, unsupervised Hebbian learning, and principal component analysis; applications in signals, speech, robotics, and forecasting; computational neuroscience, functional neuroanatomy, and functional imaging; and the visual pathways and computation in the retina and visual cortex. The combination of the properties outlined coupled with the nearly universal model of neural networks and the availability of software and hardware tools make neural networks one of the most attractive instruments of signal processing and pattern recognition available today. For more information, contact Samir Sayegh (219-481-6157; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

Molecular Structure Center

One of IUB's unique World Wide Web sites is operated by the Indiana University Molecular Structure Center (IUMSC). Not only does the server contain a wealth of information about the facilities and staff of the IUMSC, but it also is an integral part of the data archives for the many molecular structures designed in the laboratory. Researchers who are collaborating with the laboratory receive notice by e-mail when their molecules are completed. Researchers can then access the IUMSC server and rotate a stick-and-ball figure of the molecule using any computer with a Web browser. When a satisfactory view is obtained, high-quality images can be generated and downloaded for inclusion in reports and publications being prepared on the researchers' local workstations. While the molecular graphics that can be obtained in this manner are not as sophisticated as those that can be developed using the software on the more expensive workstations located in the IUMSC, they give researchers an instant view and can answer many questions that formerly required a visit to another facility. An added bonus of the new system is that much of this information is available to schools and individuals anywhere in the world. It, and servers mimicking it, will undoubtedly become a fantastic resource for the educational system. For more information, contact John C. Huffman (812-855-6742, or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

The Internet in the Chemical World

Three chemical information courses taught in the IUB Department of Chemistry have used the Internet extensively in the last two years. Besides distribution of syllabi, lecture notes, exams, and problem sets via the Internet, the courses have required students to use a considerable number of Internet resources. In the spring 1995 semester, students in C402 Current Trends in Chemical Information were asked to identify the top ten chemistry resources on the Internet. By combining their findings and a popular list of Web sites, the instructor, Gary Wiggins, director of the Chemical Information Center and head of the Chemistry Library, created a well structured guide to the resources, entitled Chemical Information Sources from Indiana University: CIS-IU. For more information, contact Gary Wiggins (812-855 9452; or see the World Wide Web page at the following URL:

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