2002 Conference Proceedings

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Virtual Presentations: Using Internet Multimedia to Simulate Onsite Presentations In E-learning

Richard Banks
121 Third St. West
Menomonie, WI 54751
dick@easi.cc 

Greg Banks
1306 13th St. EASI
Menomonie, WI 54751.
greg@easi.cc

Modern software permits our solving traditional problems in computer-based distance learning which made it difficult to demonstrate the uses of software and hardware and other features of an onsite presentation and we now can simulate an onsite demonstration. This presentation will both show and demonstrate the use of RealPresenter, GRINNS Professional SMIL development program and HYPERCAM Training tutorials creation program to create fully accessible narrated PowerPoint and to capture screen shots of actual software use with the presenter's voice streamed simultaneously providing a detailed explanation of what is being observed on the monitor.

Multimedia as a teaching tool

Multimedia holds the promise of taking online teaching and training to a level we could only dream of a few years ago. With the software available to create interactive media like computer screen captures, narrated PowerPoint presentations, slide shows, Web tours, just to name a few, teachers and trainers are eager to incorporate them into their on-line training.

The advantages to on-demand, on-line media presentations are many. A few examples are listed here and will be covered in depth in this presentation.

Computer Training

With software programs like HyperCam, interaction between the computer and teacher can be captured and narrated into a movie. This movie can then be encoded to the media you choose to support. This means that teachers have the ability to create on-line tutorials as a means of teaching students how to use software programs. Instructors could also create exercises for students to help them learn a wide variety of subjects.

Recently the University of North Carolina began using an online testing system called WebAssign. This is a system that allows students to take tests on-line. The system also allows the students to check grades and a number of other things. Needless to say the system is complex and time intensive to learn. A series of narrated videos were created and placed on-line. so that students can view them anytime and anywhere. They can view them over and over again to become familiar with the system. They can also pause or stop the presentation to study particular parts of the system they may have a difficult time understanding.

EASI teaches two online workshops on making Web pages accessible. One of the things that students are asked to do is to view a number of Web pages with images turned off in their browsers. Recently we started offering a, "how to" media tutorial that walks students through the step-by-step process of turning off images in Internet Explorer and Netscape. Students can watch as the programs are opened, follow the mouse, as menus and dialog boxes are opened and checkboxes are checked and pause or stop and actually perform the operations themselves.

Narrated Web Tours

The Web is being used as a means of teaching students in a wide variety of subjects. RealPresenter, developed by Progressive Networks, offers the teacher the ability to create a guided, narrated tour of a web site or web sites in a given subject area. This presentation can be live of on-demand. Here is an example of how EASI uses this presentation method in its on-line courses.

We have picked a number of Web sites that are friendly to users with disabilities and a like number of sites that are not. Students are taken to each of these sites and the presenter talks about different areas of the site and accessibility issues. The presenter tells the student to pause the presentation, look at what is being discussed and then resume the presentation. The end result is that students get a hands-on demonstration of Web accessibility issues that they can view any number of times to reinforce what is being taught.

Narrated PowerPoint Presentations

Perhaps the most popular way to give a presentation today is to use Microsoft PowerPoint. RealPresenter makes it possible to offer PowerPoint presentations over the Web. RealPresenter allows the user to narrate a pre-existing presentation as if they were doing it in front of a class and then save the presentation in a format that can be rendered by RealPlayer over the Internet.

Narrated Slide Shows

One of the most popular ways that news providers show events is to create slide shows of events. These are sequenced pictures of specific events that are in the news. CNN, ABCNews, CBSNews are a few of the many who offer slide shows over the Web. RealSlideshow, produced by Progressive Networks, is a software package that allows developers to narrate slideshows of images for Web presentation.

EASI uses this method of content delivery to show adaptive hardware that can be used to help people with disabilities access the computer. It is difficult to find pictures of these devices in one place. Often it requires visiting five to ten sites to see what can be shown in one slideshow. Narrations of the slides are helpful to blind, as well as other users with disabilities, to understand what these hardware devices look like, what they do and what population the devices best serve/

Accessibility

As promising and exciting as these new teaching tools are, none of these multimedia creation tools addresses accessibility in the creation process. All of the programs mentioned in this paper are relatively easy to use. To many people with disabilities, multimedia is frightening and there is a strong possibility that those who are deaf, for example, will be left out of an ever-growing number of courses and tutorials. Those who use multimedia presentation such as those mentioned in this paper, may wish to consider what the laws say about providing access to people with disabilities.

Conclusion

This paper has presented a number of ways in which multimedia can be used for Web based teaching and training. Fortunately there are groups who are working in the area of access to multimedia presentations. The NCAM Project at WGBH in Boston is one. The Web Access Initiative, part of the World Wide Web Consortium, is another. EASI offers an on-line course as part of its Accessible Information Technology Certificate program called Accessible Multimedia Production, which teaches the step-by-step process of making multimedia presentations accessible.

This presentation will show how each of the software packages mentioned in this paper creates multimedia presentations. Then the process of making these presentations accessible will be shown and discussed.


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