Multimedia technology for e-learning (guest editorial)


Brdiczka, O.; Knipping, L.; Ludwig, N. Multimedia technology for e-learning (guest editorial). Special issue of Interactive Technology and Smart Education. 2009; 6 (2): 80-81.


Education is one of the most important application areas for multimedia technologies. Universities and other educational institutions enhance their educational portfolio by using new technologies. Video and audio capture of lectures has become a common practice to produce e-learning content. Simulations allow exploring experiments which would be too expensive or too dangerous to be conducted physically by students. Multimedia-powered demonstrations are freed from many physical restrictions such as the availability of an object to study or the timescale of an effect to observe. Teaching enriched by vivid presentations and possibility for interaction for students can also gain from improved learner’s motivation. Concepts may be given perceivable existence in a demonstration and the observability of important details can be augmented. With the present amounts of educational data produced, there is a high demand in techniques and methods capable of handling multimedia contents adequately. Educational content has to be presented, deployed, navigated, searched, retrieved, edited, combined, and reused in a proper way. Quality control and learning processes with feedback loops are considered to be important concepts for more effective and sustainable e-learning solutions. Multimedia technologies facilitate the evaluation, improvement, and assurance of quality in loopback controlled e-learning processes. Multimedia feedback from individual and collaborative learning processes is essential for loopback control, spanning from human feedback on e-learning processes, computer-generated multimedia feedback, feedback concerning the transition from traditional to multimedia content (including authoring processes), and meta-feedback. The goals are the online adaptation of a multimedia e-learning system, the improvement of the quality of the next version of such a system, or the integration of the quality feedback in the teaching/learning process. Most of these topics involve techniques from artificial intelligence, computer vision, multimedia, but also human computer interaction, educational science and psychology. The Third IEEE International Workshop on Multimedia Technologies for E-Learning was held in Berkeley in December 2008 and aimed at bringing experts from these respective fields together. The workshop program consisted of two sessions and a keynote speech. Seven papers were presented in total in both sessions (Brdiczka et al., 2008). Randall B. Smith held the keynote speech about A History of Tomorrows in Educational Multimedia. The main point of his speech was that, if one is to learn from history, then, as innovator in the field of educational multimedia, one might learn from past visions. Starting with the unimaginably ancient past (1985) and continuing through the present day, the keynote showed how a technology, once arrived, differs from its predicted form. Moving from the days of exploratory microworlds, through shared virtual reality, then into annotated reality, one can see a drift away from abstraction toward media supporting the learner’s direct experience with the world. The first session was dedicated to Educational Data Procession Methods. The three papers in this session presented techniques for extracting and processing multimedia content from lectures and classroom environments. The second session focused on Concepts and Systems for Educational Multimedia. The four papers of the session introduced new concepts in multimedia educational systems. The two initial articles of this special issue of Interactive Technology and Smart Education are the revised and significantly extended versions of outstanding papers presented at the MTEL 2008 workshop. These are supplemented by contributions of invited authors recognized for their excellent work in this field. The first article of this special issue Bridging Web 2.0 to Web Lectures discussed the benefits Web lecturing could gain from a Web 2.0 perspective. It introduced a prototypical interface for the virtPresenter lecture viewer that enriches Web lectures by Web 2.0 features, such as a specialized player that can be integrated in blog or wiki sites and multi-medial links that can be used to reference arbitrary passages of a Web lecture from an external blog, wiki or forum. Further, transparent authentication methods are discussed for the case when the system is used in conjunction with a learn management system or social platforms. The second article Simulations and Remote Labs in LMS introduces a new teaching concept adding interactive components, such as smart design tools and online laboratories, in a Learning Management System (LMS) that allow exploring the learned content interactively additionally to text parts. The objective is to empower the students to solve complex design tasks for digital systems and to validate the results. The third article A Question Managing Suite for Automatic Lecture Recording how an automatic lecture recording system can be extended to record questions that are asked by people in the audience. The resulting system is able to record the whole interaction, recording the original voice of the questioner out of an audience without handing out a microphone or forcing him/her to walk to one, and recording a video of the questioner while asking. The current version of the system uses a simple graphical user interface to indicate questions, which it is not a truly intuitive way to interact. More natural interfaces are currently under investigation. The fourth article Podcasting Lecture Recordings Improved Production of More Useful eLecture Podcasts proposes techniques for producing better videos for mobile devices. The usability when playing back lecture video and audio on mobile devices often suffers from the small screen size and limited navigation functionality. This article proposes several automatic analysis techniques that extract meta information from such files that can be used to postprocess the data in order to improve visibility of the content and provide further navigation options. Different techniques and their evaluations are presented and a number of applications are discussed.

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