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Multimedia and Modelling

Conference presentation at Children in the Information Age in Albena, Bulgaria
When May 20, 1991 to
May 23, 1991
Where Albena, Bulgaria

Abstract:

Introduction

This paper attempts to explain the place of multimedia and modelling in education by defining their rôle and significance, particularly from a social and cultural point of view, with reference to the Renaissance Initiative, a project involving five academic institutions in the UK supported by Apple Computer UK. This project has been developing multimedia materials on CD-ROM in the year 1989-90 which include resources on Shakespeare, Mathematical Calculus, James Lovelock's Gaia theory and Insights and Issues for Teacher Education. The project is continuing with a second phase in the year 1990-91, aiming at European social and cultural themes.

What is multimedia?

Multimedia is simply the organisation and conjunction by computer software of a range of media such as text, graphics, animations, sound and video. From a educational point of view, multimedia is an attempt to communicate ideas under interactive computer control, by presentation through more than one sensory channel at the same time.

What is multimedia for?

Multimedia techniques have been used for a range of educational topics, but particularly for cultural and humanities applications such as Shakespeare or In the Holy Land. It may also be valuable in scientific and mathematical contexts such as in the Visual Almanac and Motion materials. Multimedia can provide direct visual and aural material as a substitute for real experience or laboratory work. If used effectively, multimedia can clearly show the origins of materials and indicate that there are human authors by showing actual people talking. Multimedia therefore has as its main strength its power to communicate ideas directly.

What is modelling?

Modelling can also be a communicative activity, but through a symbolic medium. Modelling in this paper is defined as the activity of making formal, executable computer representations of real or fantasy systems. It is important that these models are formal and executable since this allows the computer to assist in the activity of modelling. The computer assists the expression of models through syntax checking and visual representations, but it also assists the evaluation of models by executing the model in order to understand its consequences. Models may be constructed with a wide variety of software ranging from the specific such as STELLA to the more general such as spreadsheets, Logo or Prolog.

What is modelling for?

Modelling is for all of the following:

  • solving problems;
  • predicting outcomes;
  • supporting decisions;
  • communicating understanding.

Clearly not all children can become expert modellers - it is an intensely theoretic and abstract process, but this does not mean that they can know nothing of models or the uses to which they are put. Children should be take part in the activity of modelling for the following reasons:

  • to understand the basis for decision making in a democratic society;
  • to increase their knowledge and understanding in a range of subject matters;
  • to improve their ability to solve problems, take decisions and think about the problem solving process;
  • to allow direct involvement as managers or politicians in the process of decision making and predicting outcomes;
  • to understand, communicate and solve scientific and social problems as researchers.

How can modelling benefit from multimedia techniques?

This paper indicates how the activity of modelling can benefit from multimedia techniques. The primary benefits are as follows:

  • Stimulus - The activity of modelling may be effectively stimulated by presenting problems to be solved, outcomes to be predicted or decisions to be made using multimedia with rich resources to explain the initial problem and to suggest important factors or relationships.
  • Authorship - The idea that a model is the creation of some human being is often overlooked. Multimedia can help to strengthen the idea that an author lies behind any model, and that a model can be critically evaluated.
  • Evaluation - Successful evaluation of a model depends on some experience of the phenomenon being modelled or some data to compare. Multimedia resources may be able to substitute for some of this experience or might present such data (which also has an author) in interesting ways.
  • Combining direct images and sounds with symbolic forms - The symbolic forms in which models are usually represented rely heavily on the imagination of the modeller. Multimedia can combine the symbolic form with more direct images and sounds which may support the imagination.
  • Understanding cultural background - Models are not created by authors in a void. Each author carries a set of assumptions and values which should be represented together with the symbolic form of the model. Multimedia can support this kind of presentation.

Conclusion

A major problem with many Information Technology activities is the notion that the computer knows some object truth. Authors often present ideas on the computer as though they are the computer's or that they cannot be challenged. Multimedia techniques, if used wisely, offer the possibility to show that the computer is a powerful medium of communication from human to human, rather than the source of knowledge, encouraging children to see the cultural and social diversity which lies behind that communication and which allows them to take part in tomorrow's society.

(Words: 924 )

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Lewis Carroll describes a fictional map that had:

"the scale of a mile to the mile."

A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that:

"we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."
— Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Lewis Carroll, 1893

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The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. education & The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. employment

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. project

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. professional

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. conference

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The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. teaching

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'.selected for the PhD