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Jul 1999 Vol. 3   No. 2
........   CIT NEWS  ........
The Future of Classroom Experience

The NUS Global Campus IT Strategic Plan identified the thrust of intensifying the use of Information Technology (IT) in teaching and learning for NUS. As part of the implementation of this strategic thrust, a coordinated effort to accelerate and enhance the infrastructure to support IT in teaching and learning was needed. The Centre for Instructional Technology (CIT) was born out of this pursuit. It embodies the effective use of technology to improve the teaching and learning processes. It also recognizes the importance of adequate support to be made available to academic staff in order to overcome the seemingly ominous task of building online courseware.

The mission of CIT is to provide a robust and supportive environment for the exploration, development and application of digital technologies to promote teaching and learning. This involves:

  • Creating a greater awareness of the potential of IT in enhancing education,
  • Supporting lecturers with the means to incorporate new media in their courses effectively,
  • Encouraging the creation of digital content and development of new teaching and learning applications, as well as
  • Defining and developing new services central to instructional technology efforts.

 

CIT is sub-divided into the following function groups:

INTEGRATED VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (IVLE)

The IVLE, launched in November 1998, is part of the Global Campus initiative to facilitate the use of IT in teaching and learning. Spearheaded by Computer Centre, the development of IVLE was taken over by CIT to promote and accelerate the deployment of this environment. The development of IVLE within CIT also provides better synergy with the other sub-units, thereby enabling CIT to fulfill its goal.

The

Within IVLE, lecturers can:

  • Supplement the classroom experience by providing online materials (e.g. course outlines, references, assessment, etc.) for students,
  • Make use of the wide array of web-based tools and the Digital Media Gallery to digitise their course materials,
  • Communicate with students by linking up to class discussion forums, chat rooms, class distribution lists, quizzes and workbins, as well as
  • Expand students’ international exposure by providing links to overseas courseware resources.

COURSEWARE DEVELOPMENT

The CIT Courseware Development group supports lecturers in the generation of online courseware. Activities range from basic course outlines to complex multimedia courseware productions, tapping on the diverse skills of CIT support staff.

We work with NUS academic staff to provide:

  • Assistance in developing a plan for the effective use of IT in your courses,
  • Workshops and forums on a wide range of educational topics and multimedia authoring,
  • Media conversion services to digitise your text, images, sound, and video for instructional and teaching purposes, and
  • A Smart Classroom that uses sophisticated digital technologies for teaching.

The Courseware Development group also oversees the management of the Student IT Assistance Scheme where student IT assistants will be suitably trained with the requisite skills and assigned to help staff in courseware development. The assistantship is a complimentary service designed to assist academic staff in publishing of web-based course materials. This will enable staff to focus on course content and let the student assistants deal with the technical task of building such online courseware for the Web.

The Student IT Assistant can:

  • Help you create your detailed courseware on the Web based on your design specifications,
  • Mount the detailed courseware into your web course directory in your presence,
  • Help you create a course outline on IVLE and link it to your detailed courseware, as well as
  • Show you how to maintain your detailed courseware and course outlines.

 

MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTION AND CONFERENCING

CIT currently provides various services in the area of video production, photography, audio-visual duplication and multimedia conferencing. Much of these services are expanding from their current analog bases to more digital ones. This translates to a wider array of services that will encompass commonly used digital and analog formats for the University community.

Multimedia production covers video programme integration and video recording in two analog formats (Beta SP and SVHS ) and, in the near future, digital based video integration and recording as well as digital audio recording. Video programme production covers corporate, informational and instructional varieties. High priority is given to video programmes that would be used for multimedia integration on CD-ROM or in web-based teaching and learning. CIT’s professional crew also assists NUScast in multi-camera recordings for the purpose of Intranet or Internet broadcasts. Video recording is done at various levels of sophistication and ranges from diverse on-site and studio-based configurations as well as interactive video. CIT is currently refining its non-linear video post-production set-up to accommodate innovative and effective formation of instructional video programmes. This advancement in infrastructure thereby promotes the deployment of digital media for teaching and learning applications.

Video conferencing, which NUS pioneered among the tertiary institutions in Singapore seven years ago, is fast expanding to ‘multimedia’ conferencing as CIT upgrades from the standard of H.320 to H.323 for Intranet and Internet delivery. Multimedia conferencing is more versatile as it incorporates audio, video and data communication on the digital platform. Currently, CIT is leading a local and regional effort to configure and test the use of H.320 codecs for H.323 applications. CIT has also recognised that basic audio-visual applications are different between video production recordings and those for multimedia conferencing. ‘Line of sight’ and ‘sense of presence’ are vital for the latter. The Computer Centre Auditorium is currently being refurbished with sophisticated equipment for the delivery of proficient multimedia conferencing.

Another service from the Multimedia Production group is photography, including analog and digital formats for on-site shootings, studio-based camera capture and slide making. Video duplication services cater to most conventional video formats. CIT aims to extend this service to cross platform transfers between analog and digital formats. Audio duplication is available for cassette-based material. We are targeting digital audio-based services in the near future.

CIT is committed to maintaining the leadership role in multimedia conferencing and production technology and will undertake to exploit available expertise to the fullest.

 

NUSCAST

NUScast is a network TV application available on the NUS Intranet. NUScast was launched in November 1998 to provide a channel to broadcast educational and entertainment programmes within NUS*. The entertainment and news programmes include CNN, BBC and Discovery Channel that are licensed from Singapore Cable Vision and Channel News Asia. A radio channel produced and managed by NUSSU (NUS Student Union) is also available on NUScast. With informational and news broadcast at your figure tips, you can expand your repertoire of knowledge simply by clicking your mouse.

NUSLive is another service under NUScast. As the name suggests, NUSLive screens live lectures, talks, conferences and seminars conducted within NUS. Not only can students watch their lectures live on the Intranet, they can also view the lecture materials that are in PowerPoint simultaneously. NUSLive further enriches the classroom experience by having broadcast lectures archived in a Multimedia-on-Demand (MoD) server. Students can refer to the lectures at their own time and pace from their desktops or notebooks. Another benefit of NUSLive is that it alleviates the resources required to hold repeated lectures for modules with large enrolment.

Pilot broadcasts of lectures through NUSLive were held from January to March 1999. More than 40 lectures/seminars were aired during the pilot trial and the feedback gained was positive and constructive. The pilot broadcasts were archived in the MoD server and are now accessible from the NUS Intranet web site at URL http://mod.nus.edu.sg/. Implementation of the live broadcast on a larger scale is scheduled in July 1999. We aim to broadcast the lectures of an entire module/course through NUSLive.

For more information our NUScast services, visit our Web page at: https://online.nus.edu.sg/nettv/.

 

*The network TV application is configured using the Microsoft NetShow software on NT platform. The TV programmes are fed into the Netshow Encoder PC equipped with a Intel Smart Video Encoder card into Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) for multicast on NUSNET. Client PCs access the programmes through a web interface using the MS Media Player software. The broadcast of multimedia contents over Intranet or Internet is commonly known as ‘Webcast’.

 

 

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