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CIMEL Review Panel

March 15, 2001

Goals of today’s meeting:

n    Review the web-based survey of students, faculty and others about our goals, analysis and prototype

n    A starting point for brainstorming

n    A basis for planning our alpha version


Why an audio tape?

n  For our friendly evaluators:

n    Morgan Jennings and Debra Dirksen

n    Education professors at the Metropolitan College of Denver, CO

n    They helped prepare for this meeting by analyzing the survey data

n    They will also help us assess what we accomplish today


CIMEL project goals (from web site):

n    To design a multimedia framework for constructive, collaborative, inquiry-based learning, with multiple tracks.


n     Constructive learning goes beyond learning by receiving knowledge, to learning by building systems, with immediate, visual feedback.

n     Collaborative learning encourages students to interact with instructors and librarians, via both live links and remote-controlled "show me" sessions or by reviewing a multimedia FAQ of recorded "show me" sessions .

n     Inquiry-based learning guides the student into pursuing exploratory research in a community of students and scholars.

n     Multiple tracks means that we want deliver content for students at different levels, for introductory and upper level computer science courses, and with different learning styles.


Break-out groups:

n    Each will discuss a set of questions.

n    Appoint someone to take notes.

n    Each group gets a laptop.

n    You’ll have about half an hour.

n    Get as far as you can.

Break out group 1: User interface issues

(Glenn Blank, Paul Krasicky, Sasidhar Mukkamalla)


Should we try to improve the appearance of the user interface?  Any suggestions?

Does the user interface include all the needed functionality?

· The user interface includes all the needed functionality. (71% strongly agree/agree)

·     “Have the forward button become brighter or change color when the prof is finished speaking and its time to be pushed.”

·    Should the forward button be an arrow or should it flash to signal ready to go to next page?

·    “Also include a pause button, so the lesson can be paused and student can do other things.”

·    Are other functions needed, such as pause or minimize window?

How can the content menu be more effective, e.g., giving them a better awareness of context and progress?


Notes from Sasidhar Mukkamalla and Glenn Blank:


  1. Pause (stopping action) and  hide (minimizing screen) buttons would be desirable.
  2. The interface bar (at the bottom) should be reorganized, so that all the navigation functions (Menu, Pause, Hide, Exit, Back, Forward) should be above the bar while all the other buttons (Find, Glossary, Explore, Preferences, Experts) should be beneath the bar.
  3. The back and forward buttons should be closer together and could be arrows; highlighting the forward button (signaling ready to advance page) should be more conspicuous.
  4. The interface bar should be moved further down the screen.
  5. Help can be replaced by tool tips which should not prevent the buttons from functioning.  The tool tip explanations should be closer to the respective buttons.
  6. The navigation menu should remain, providing links to screens in a lesson, highlighting the current screen (for example, see Authorware help pages).  It would be better to keep the menu on the left.  Try to reduce the space allocated for this menu and possibly make it possible to take it off the screen.


Break out group 2: Multi-tracking, constructive exercises and “hot topics” system

Brian Courtney, David Gevry,  Bill Pottenger and Soma Roy


How can we design a user interface that lets instructors and students choose their own tracks through the content?


Notes from David Gevry:

In our group we looked at the constructive exercises,  Hot Topic System, and the multi-tracking aspects of the CIMEL project.

Constructive Exercises:

After looking at Soma’s demo, the main improvements our group suggested would be more user cues as to whether the user had made a correct assumption in the exercise or not.  Additionally these cues would need to be sound independent incase the user did not have sound enabled, and provide a longer window for the user to see that they were wrong in making their assumption.  The message stating that the user was wrong flashed by a little too quickly.  Also, there should be a method of pausing or slowing the exercise down so that the user can examine things that are moving too quickly for them.


Hot Topic System:

The major issue discussed on this point due to time restraints was the fact that the name of the Hot Topic System was confusing in it's actual purpose.  The Hot Topic System is similar to technology forecasting in the fact that it identifies topics in the literature source it is linked too that are emerging over time and are potentially new technologies or concepts that have a high likelihood of importance.  However the Hot Topic system does not show important topics in the course material nor is it a search engine for document retrieval.   A better name would be along the lines of Current Research Hot Topics or Trends.   During the panel meeting we agreed that the Hot Topics engine should be accessible, along with the Web browser, via an Explore button on the Interface bar.


From the prototype it was hard to see whether the information could be scaled appropriately to a range of introductory to graduate level material.  Potentially if the individual lessons were short enough one could assemble to programs from a common bin of lessons however the pace of the lessons would not really change.  For a graduate level student the information might been already know too some extent and lessons moving at a slightly faster pace would be more useful.  Additionally the need for a modular system from which an instructor could assemble a course in the order they desire that also yields the student some control in the exploration of the topic were examined.  The need for the lesson modules to have prerequisite knowledge also was brought up.  If a user/student has control over  what they look at then the lessons need to be able to tell the user what they might need to understand the material inside.  Different ways of accomplishing this involved potentially having a instructor mapping and a student schedule planning program.  In this the student would be given a schedule suggested by the instructor but be able to drag and drop modules together to plan a schedule tailored to their needs. This could also involve the instructor marking required and optional sections to the student could then have a pool of extra material to work with if they desired more from the class.

Break out group 3: Personae and collaborative interface

Drew Kessler, Qiang Wang and Tianhao Wu


What is effective and ineffective in regard to the persona?


Notes by Drew Kessler:


Effectiveness of persona:

  Voice not matching known persona not a big problem

    Let user choose voice?  Maybe not, if professional voice, or familiar professor used

    Option to say “I don’t understand this voice, give me another.”

    Maybe too expensive.

  Appearance of persona

    Not important to have image of specific instructor

    User select from pictures at a “configuration” step

    Maybe not important to see the persona at all

    If many classes, may be more important to have separate persona images, and more important to match with real person

    Students could be identified by persona images

More on persona

       Voice and text

    Content should be the same

    Text is important, esp. for international students

    Having different presentations of content, occasionally will be valuable

       Try and find out!

Show-me Interface:

       Should not “grab” user’s cursor

       Circles should be more regular, and in brighter color

Interface comments:

       Provide separate program for asking configuration questions, or “Options” button

    Sound/no sound

    Read full text or not

       For long animations/slides provide

    Progress indicator (at bottom?)

    Thumbnails (in progress indicator) to jump to points in animation

       Show-me demonstration needs fast-forward button?

Expert button:

    Need listing of instructors, TA’s, other experts

    Need one category for connection (includes conference (bi-directional audio? default?), email, IM, demonstration, voice-mail, etc.)

    Allow specification of one-to-one, allow listeners, can join existing conference, etc.

    May need a more complex interface