"The Forum" is a place where people can discuss substantive issues raised in previous issues of Research & Creative Activity. We invite you, our readers, to take this opportunity to speak out.
The September 1996 issue of Research & Creative Activity highlights the diversity of multimedia applications and developments at Indiana University. Bringing these efforts together and exploring the similarities in terms of development--and the steep learning curve for so many developers--reveals new perspectives.
From faculty members' comments, it is clear that even the early adopters are still examining the strengths and limitations of multimedia. The technology encourages educational methods emphasizing learner involvement, the constructivist approach currently in vogue. Linda Meyer's comment about students who preferred "having things handed to them through lectures" demonstrates that adapting to multimedia-based teaching requires more than coping with technology. Jeremy Dunning's observation that "the students really learn more" is the obvious response to such concerns, but his account of the challenges of doing it right reveals why multimedia-based education is still a shining example, not standard practice.
The hard part of the "digital learning environment" Martin Siegel envisions is not the technology, but the learning. How is information identified and selected from the Library of Congress on a chip? How are the preferred sources woven together to create the compelling and truly educational experiences highlighted in this issue of Research & Creative Activity? The university community is replete with scholars who have expertise developing multimedia applications--from molecular structures to Somali poetry. But we need to consider evaluating the technology itself and how users interact with it. Andrew Dillon's work suggests ways we might assess and assure quality in the resources and the learners' experiences. This glimpse of new roles, new capabilities, and new partnerships is an engaging snapshot of Indiana University's evolution, a picture that may become even more interesting when the photo album is brought out years hence.Debora Shaw