Multimodal Technologies for Interschool Collaboration

Draft Interim Report 3/31/96: Anthony C. Webster, John Morris, Bill Spillers, Jane Murphy

Project Overview

As described in our approved proposal, the five primary tasks of the project are to:

1. Build a multimodal (ISDN and Internet based) electronic infrastructure for the collaborative development and instructional use of educational engineering materials. The infrastructure will include ISDN and Internet-based Desktop Video Conferencing systems, as well as World Wide Web-based multimedia systems for remote document editing, document sharing, and newsgroups.

2. To have researchers at four Gateway Schools (including Drexel, Ohio State, NJIT and Columbia) use the infrastructure to jointly develop distance learning curricular materials for undergraduate engineering and architectural education.

3. To use the electronic infrastructure, curriculum materials, and individual researchers' special expertise in networked, interschool classes. This will include in-class use of all facets of the infrastructure, which we will supplement with existing computer laboratories and computer-projection equipped classrooms.

4. To evaluate:

5. To disseminate the results of the project, in a paper and WWW-based report to NSF-Gateway.

Work Completed to Date:

Task 1 (Infrastructure Development)

Facilities for two party and multiparty Desktop Videoconferencing (DTVC) have been installed at Drexel. These systems enable DTVC via ISDN phone lines or the Internet. Drexel has also helped set up an ISDN DTVC system in a structural engineering office, to allow employees to appear in classes at Drexel without leaving their office. Facilities for two party DTVC via ISDN and the Internet have been installed at Columbia in a multimedia classroom, an educational lab, and a faculty office. These facilities are currently being upgraded to support multi-party conferencing. Multi-party ISDN/Internet DTVC systems are currently being installed at NJIT and OSU; these systems should be operational by the end of April 1996.

Low budget, Internet based DTVC systems for use by students in labs and classrooms have been installed at Drexel and ordered for Columbia. An experimental multimedia Internet newsgroup has been set up at Columbia.

Task 2 (Curriculum and Content Development)

An atmospheric model of the Farnsworth House is being prepared on the Phoenics computer program, which was purchased for this work. Mechanical engineering documents for the PATCenter have been obtained and are being scanned. Analyses of the PATCenter and the Farnsworth House made on a sophisticated, spreadsheet-based thermal analysis are being prepared. A non-linear structural analysis of the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka has been started, and a general purpose, form-finding program for fabric structures is being developed.

The principal investigators have developed a variety of preliminary plans for interschool classroom collaboration, including:

Forthcoming Work:

The project is on schedule, and we plan to complete it essentially as outlined in the approved proposal. Some task by task details, as agreed by the project PI's follow:

Task 1 (Infrastructure Development)

New infrastructure systems will be tested at Drexel and Columbia, then expanded to the rest of the team as appropriate. We will develop fully featured two-station and multiparty DTVC and application sharing. This will include project-specific evaluations of (among other things) Timbuktoo, See-u-see-me, and Internet phone. We will also test and prove-out a variety a asynchronous communication and document sharing tools, including HTML-based remote forms input systems, Internet assistant for Microsoft Word, and Lotus notes internet (HTML) edition.

Task 2 (Curriculum and Content Development)

The content development work described above will be completed this summer. Collaborative Interschool Class projects will be developed as follows:
Interschool Project ParticipantsDates Run

(All Dates 1996)

Remote academic expert in classroomJohn, Bill, Tony April - August
Remote practitioner expert in classroom John, Tony, AdjunctsApril -- August
Tensile Structures design problem
  • Architecture and engineering students
Bill, JaneAugust -- September
Building systems problem
  • John and Jane to define
John, JaneSeptember
Integrated CAD-CAM
  • Object designed in Form-z and fabricated on CNC machine at CU
Tony, ??August -- September