Multimodal Technologies for Interschool Collaboration

Draft Interim Report 8/8/96: Tony 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 Since Interim Report 1:

Task 1 (Infrastructure Development)

Infrastructure development is virtually complete. An extensive ISDN and Ethernet (TCP/IP) infrastructure in place within Drexel University, and the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. Local lines in design labs have been retested and are operational. ISDN lines now exist in the following teaching facilities: Hill Conference Room; Satellite CAD Lab; Senior CAD Lab; and the Multimedia Lab. Software and hardware distributed among these locations includes: Mac 9500 PPC, SGI Computers, a variety of PCs, multi point video conference hardware and software, Localtalk, web browsers and various web page construction tools including html savvytext processors, html editors, web page editors, animation and audiocreation tools, and the requisite utilities necessary to play and manipulate the constructed web objects.

Columbia has working classroom-based and office-based ISDN DTVC systems. NJIT and OSU each have one working system, and are currently installing addition ISDN lines for this project. Proshare, Timbuktoo, Cu-See-Me are working at OSU, Columbia and Drexel.

Task 2 (Curriculum and Content Development)

The Farnsworth House atmospheric model is almost complete. This project is available on the WWW at:

NJIT has prepared an extensive set of curriculum materials and analysis tools for "Paperless Design of Fabric Structures." The work is available on the WWW at:

OSU and NJIT are developing a joint course for fall 1996 based on these materials.

OSU and Columbia have developed an experimental testbed class for interschool collaborative design and fabrication of engineering components using CNC technology.

Drexel has put a variety of course materials on the web for use by other schools. See:!/main.html

Other materials will be coming on-line at Drexel in the next few weeks such as Excel spreadsheets for structural system and HVAC system selection, and HVAC system preliminary analysis.

Task 3: Use the electronic infrastructure, curriculum materials, and individual researchers' special expertise in networked, interschool classes.

Drexel has established used a video conferencing link between their design classrooms and local engineering firms. Currently on-line is PWI engineering; they specialize in the design of HVAC systems. Drexel's agreement with PWI allows our students to "call" (desktop video conference) their firm during a set of pre-established hours; up to eight (8) hours per week.

Columbia faculty have taught a seminar-style class with Drexel faculty on structural typology. This session has been recorded on videotape. We expect to schedule at

least one "consultation" per month between the project participants during the fall term.

Columbia and OSU are running a testbed class aimed at remote design collaboration and component prototyping. Students and faculty are working at both schools to design, analyze and fabricate a mockup of selected architectural and structural building components. See:

NJIT and Drexel are developing a paperless design of Fabric structures interschool class, based on the content developed by NJIT.

Task 4: Evaluation

Evaluation data for all class and curriculum development projects is being collected as planned.

Forthcoming Work:

We plan to complete the project essentially as outlined in the approved proposal. However, we are entirely unable to complete the project by the end of August and urgently need an extension through September 1996. Following is a summary of Task 3 work that will be completed or expanded in September 1996:

Interschool ProjectParticipants
Remote academic expert in classroomJohn, Bill, Tony
Tensile Structures design problem
  • Architecture and engineering students
Bill, Jane
Building systems problem
  • John and Jane to define
John, Jane
Integrated CAD-CAM
  • Object designed in Form-z and fabricated on CNC machine at CU
Tony, Jane