JVME v21n2: Toward a Comprehensive Multimedia Instructional Delivery System for Veterinary Medicine

Volume 21, Number 2 Fall, 1994

Toward a Comprehensive Multimedia Instructional Delivery System for Veterinary Medicine

J. C. Galland and W. E. Michaels
From the College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.


Computer-based technology, called multimedia, now enables instructors to combine sound, text, still pictures, and video into one electronic presentation. Either a computer is used to control other equipment that displays video and sound (e.g., video, laser disk, and audio players) or a computer is used to present video and sound that is stored on the computer's hard disk or CD (compact disk). Images are viewed on the computer monitor or projected onto a screen. Sound is played on the computer's speaker, through headphones, or through loudspeakers.

In this article, we describe a study to explore and develop applications of multimedia in veterinary medical education. We provide a reflective analysis and presentation of the benefits and limitations of the system.

The goals of the project were to provide 1) faculty with convenient means to create multimedia presentations and interactive multimedia lessons, 2) students with the means to use interactive multimedia for self-instruction, and 3) facilities for research studies on the effectiveness of multimedia as a teaching tool. This paper describes development and use of a comprehensive multimedia instructional delivery system to achieve these goals. The system is comprehensive because 1) multimedia instruction is delivered on or off campus to large groups, small groups, or individuals; 2) faculty have a means to develop and present multimedia and/or interactive multimedia lessons; 3) students have a means for using multimedia lessons interactively; and 4) teams for technical support and research assure continual development of the system. The system, with the necessary administrative and financial support, is composed of 1) Multimedia Development Laboratory, 2) Multimedia Access Center, 3) multimedia-equipped classrooms and laboratories, 4) a technical support team, and 5) a research and evaluation team.

One obvious advantage of multimedia is that it allows instructors to make use of existing instructional materials from many different sources. There could be a time savings because once multimedia lessons are prepared, they can be used repetitively, freeing up faculty time previously used for lectures.

Besides the direct costs of space, salaries, and equipment (hardware and software), there are two time costs of investing in multimedia: time for training faculty and multimedia staff and time for staff to develop multimedia resources--to select and integrate hardware and software and to become skilled in their use. At first, many weeks (sometimes much more) are required to prepare 8 minutes of high-quality multimedia presentation (1) . However, once a system is in place, time costs should be reduced, because the necessary multimedia development tools will be at hand and faculty and staff will have gained experience in preparing multimedia presentations. Some faculty will invest time to develop multimedia lessons themselves. Other faculty will want the College to provide staff to create multimedia presentations according to faculty specifications. Faculty should receive credit toward tenure for developing multimedia, and faculty should publish the results of their efforts to create and evaluate multimedia.

Principle Behind the Technology Centers

Reliance on a central service organization to make lessons can be slow, expensive, and disappointing; therefore, we tried to encourage self-reliance by making multimedia technology easily accessible to all faculty and students. The system had to provide a location with all hardware and software necessary for faculty to create multimedia presentations easily themselves. The system had to provide students with technology that would help them educate themselves. Continuous formal evaluation of the system's effectiveness had to be provided.

Technology Specifications

Computer technology changes rapidly, and competition among vendors of multimedia hardware and software is extremely intense as each company pushes to establish its technology as a multimedia standard. This makes purchasing decisions difficult. Because the teaching of veterinary medicine relies heavily on visual resources, we decided that it was of primary importance for the hardware we chose to be able to digitally capture, compress, and store television quality video. Some of the criteria used to select the hardware and software for this project were:

  1. Video had to fill the entire computer screen (full-screen) not just a portion of it (window).
  2. Video had to play on the computer monitor nearly at actual speed (full-motion 30 frames/second) from CD-ROM, hard disk, or RAM (random access memory).
  3. Video had to be compressed (to preserve disk space) in real time (for speedy storage and retrieval).
  4. Students had to be able to easily and simultaneously access lessons, which include full-screen, full-motion video over the College-wide network, without degrading the continuity and speed of the lessons.
  5. Development software had to be able to edit and combine in a presentation all current computer audio, video, and image formats (over a dozen of them), particularly those dealing with television quality video. Each format has an acronym, some of which are listed, but not defined, here for reference: AVS, AVI, PCX, BMP, TIFF, GIF, _IM, !IM, TGA, JPG, WAV, _AU.
Table 1. Cost of Multimedia Development Laboratory.
No.	 Description								Unit Cost($)/TOTAL($) 
2	IBM PS/2 Model 85 Microcomputers, 486SX processor, 33MHZ clock 		 5391/10780	
	 speed, 12MB RAM, 200 MB Hard disk drive, Model 8516 touch screen monitor		 
2	IBM Actionmedia II Display Adapter/A 2MB with capture option (69F9732)	1490/2980 
2	IBM M-Audio Capture/Playback Adapters (92F3379)				222/444 
1	IBM Video Capture Adapter/A (92F3380)					1350/1350 
2	Pioneer LD-V4400 Laser Disc Players	 				892/1784 
1	Pioneer 6 Disk CD ROM Player						835/835 
1	Sony EV-S3000 NTSC HI-8 Video Cassette Player				1290/1290 
1	Panasonic AG1960 NTSC SVHS Video Cassette Player			925/925 
3	Sony CCD-V701/NTSC HI-8 Video Camera recorders				1015/3045 
1	Hewlett Packard IICX Color Scanner					848/848 
1	Hewlett Packard Transparency Adapter for IICX				579/579 
	SUBTOTAL HARDWARE							$24860 
1	IBM OS/2 V2.1 with Multimedia Presentation Manager/2 (MMPM/2) V1.1
	(71G1877)								179/179 
1	IBM Ultimedia Builder/2 V1.0 (41G2937)					239/239 
1	IBM Ultimedia Perfect Image/2 V1.0 (41G2942)				120/120 
1	IBM Ultimedia Workplace/2 V1.0 (41G2938)				239/239 
1	Neopaint V21 OSCS Software Development, Inc				50/50 
1	Podium for Windows V2.0 University of Delaware				495/495 
									TOTAL   $26182 

Table 2. Cost of Multimedia Access Center

No.		Description							Unit Cost($)/TOTAL($)  
Network Hardware		 
1	LAN Server:  IBM PS/2 Model 90 Microcomputer, 486DX2  processor,	4643/4643		
	 66 MHz clock speed, 16 MB RAM, 1.05GB 8.5ms hard disk drive		 
1	IBM Busmaster Token Ring Adapter					1050/1050 
1	IBM MAU	 								389/389 
6 	IBM cabling system with connectors	 				175/1050 
	Network Workstations		 
6	IBM PS/2 Model 77 microcomputers, 486DX2 processor, 50MHZ clock seed,	4041/24246
	12MB RAM, 200MB Hard disk drive, Type 8516 Touch screen monitor		 
6	IBM token ring network cards						550/3300 
6	IBM Actionmedia II Display Adaptor/A 2MB (69F9732)			995/5970 
6	IBM M-Audio Capture/Playback Adapters (92F3379)				222/1332 
6	Stereo Headsets								50/250 
	SUBTOTAL HARDWARE							$40791 
1	IBM LANServer V3.0 Advanced ed. (96F8749)				1347/1347 
1	IBM OS/2 V2.1 with MMPM/2 (71G1877)					179/179 
									TOTAL   $42317  

Description of Instructional Delivery System

Video Cameras. Three HI-8 video cameras (Table 1) were purchased and placed at the large animal desk, small animal desk, and central supply so they could be checked out rapidly 24 hours a day to record an interesting case entering the hospital or to record a field service call. We struggled with the decision of which video format to use. HI-8 is compact (a 3.75" x 2.5" x 0.5" cartridge size means the camera can be smaller than a VHS camera), but VHS is more ubiquitous, because almost everyone has a VHS player at home. We chose HI-8 because of its compactness and higher resolution, expecting that the camera would be used only to capture high-quality images which would later be transferred to a computer hard disk, CD, or VHS tape. Although simpler and cheaper HI-8 cameras may be available, we would not recommend sacrificing any feature that might affect image quality or the ability of the camera to capture images under various conditions such as low light. We have found that we do not use any of the editing features of the video cameras.

Multimedia Development Laboratory. A fully equipped 2-station Multimedia Development Laboratory (MDL) was established to create a single location where faculty and graduate students would have easy access to all production tools needed to prepare multimedia presentations and interactive multimedia lessons. The MDL is a 15' x 20' room centrally located within the College. A key to the room is available for check-out 24 hours a day.

Equipment in the lab (Table 1) can be categorized as equipment needed to 1) capture, 2) combine and edit, and 3) present images and sound. To capture images, in a multimedia sense, is to transfer them from their original media (usually a photographic slide, video or audio tape, or motion picture) to the medium (usually a computer hard disk) used for the multimedia lesson. Therefore, the MDL is equipped to play images and sound from original media for capturing them on a computer for an all-digital presentation.

Images and sound from almost any source can be copied onto the computer's storage medium by use of IBM's Video Capture Adapter, M-Audio Capture/Playback Adapter, and Multimedia Presentation Manager/2 software so they can be integrated into the presentation. Still images can be captured by the color scanner; however, videotaping the still image provides better resolution when displaying images with a 256 color monitor. A 35 mm slide can be attached with a rubber band to the macro lens of the video camera and backlit before recording the image. The lab is equipped to play video images in HI-8 format or in SVHS format and images stored on laser disk or CD ROM (read only memory). Equipment may be checked out of the College's Audio Visual Resource Facility (AVR) to play images stored in other formats such as 3/4" video tape, 8mm film, and 16mm film. Audio can be played from tape recorders (cassette or open reel) or CD players.

The computers in the MDL are equipped with 200 MB disk drives. However, we recommend purchasing larger capacity drives, a shared drive (1 gigabyte or more), or a shared readable/writable CD drive, because storing and editing video consume considerable disk space. The video compact disc (CD) is an appropriate medium for storing and retrieving images, because it can store large amounts of data. Software is used to index the images on the CD for rapid retrieval. CD players equipped with a "Jukebox" can access 1 of 6 or more discs and be linked together in a network to further increase the amount of disk space readily available. Although much information can be stored on a CD (600 MB), access to the information is slower (40 ms) than access to information stored on a hard disk (<14 ms). Therefore, if the computer's hard disk has enough space for the lesson, we recommend using it.

Images can be edited before capture on the hard disk by use of the video players in the MDL or by the Video Toaster (NewTek, Inc., 215 SE 8th St., Topeka, KS 66603; $6000) housed in our AVR facility. We use this method of editing when we need a special effect not available in the computer's multimedia editing software or when larger segments of video are to edited. Once images are captured on the computer's hard disk, they can be edited by use of IBM's Ultimedia software. Editing includes arranging images in desired sequence/length and adding special effects such as fade away transitions; superimposing; mixing; resizing; cutting and pasting; combining; adding text and graphics to images; enhancing resolution; animation; graphics; and adding mock controlling buttons, switches, handles, or knobs on the computer image for branching to different parts of the lesson.

Multimedia Access Center. In the Multimedia Access Center (MAC), students can study interactive multimedia lessons, and faculty can do research on the effectiveness of interactive multimedia instruction. Housed adjacent to the veterinary medical library, the MAC is a 35-station computer laboratory with 5-foot high, 5-foot wide, 5-foot deep privacy carrels. Each station can seat 1-4 people. Six of the computers are IBM computers equipped with Action Media II cards which allow them to display full motion video (Table 2). The computers are connected to an IBM token-ring network with an IBM 486 file server, so all students in the laboratory can access the same or different lessons simultaneously and progress through them at their own pace. Multimedia lessons also can be accessed from the file server by the other 29 computers in the MAC or by any computer on the College network (including those in homes and dorms), if the computer is equipped with an Action Media II card. The MAC is open the same hours as the library, and a consultant (part-time minimum-wage student, often a computer science or communications student), is always available to answer user questions.

Table 3. Cost of multimedia-equipped lecture halls.

No.		Description							Unit Cost($)/TOTAL($)  
1	IBM PS/2 Model 85 Microcomputer, 33 MHZ clock speed, 12 MB RAM,		4374/4374 
		200 MB Hard disk drive		 
1	IBM Actionmedia Display Adapter/A 2MB (69F9732)				1490/1490 
1	IBM M-Audio Capture/Playback Adapter (92F3379)				222/222 
1	Amplified Stereo Speakers						250/250 
1	INFOCUS TXT60006 LCD Projector						5357/5357 
1	Cart for computer and peripherals	 				900/900 
	SUBTOTAL HARDWARE							$12593 
1	IBM OS/2 V2.1 with MMPM/2 (71G1877)					179/179 
									TOTAL   $12772

Multimedia-equipped Classrooms. The veterinary medical college has 4 lecture halls, one for each class year, which are used daily for large group instruction. Each lecture hall is equipped with television monitors suspended from the ceiling that are wired to the Audio-Visual Resource facility of the College. The monitors are used to display video, laser disk, and satellite transmission. With a converter, the monitors can be used to display images (including full motion video) and sound from the network file server or from a computer workstation wheeled into the lecture hall on a cart. All necessary equipment (Table 3) to present multimedia lessons has been placed on a cart (2) , which can be wheeled to the many laboratories and classrooms of the College. The cart includes a computer with a large capacity hard disk to store the multimedia presentation, an LCD projector to project the presentation on a large reflective screen at the front of the room, and good quality stereo speakers. The cart also can house a laser disk player and video player, if the instructor requires them. We plan to install keypads at each seat in the 4 large lecture rooms to allow lessons to be interactive, and to replace video monitors at each laboratory station with computer monitors so that laboratory instruction there can be individualized as well as being presented to everyone at the same rate

Outreach. The College has provided outreach instruction to alumni of the College and other veterinary practitioners by 1) travel to remote areas of Kansas and surrounding states, 2) seminars at Kansas State, and 3) satellite uplink. These methods are costly. To reduce these costs and improve the amount and quality of outreach instruction, equipment for transmitting compressed video over ordinary telephone wire was purchased as a means to provide and receive consultation and instruction at remote sites. Two-way transmission requires equipment (we use a $5100 Dynair black box and video recorder) at each end, so the College has equipment that is sent or carried to the remote site and equipment that remains at the College. Compressed video allows students from other universities to participate in courses taught at Kansas State and students at Kansas State to participate in courses taught at other universities that have similar equipment. The system has enabled students to interact with peers and faculty experts at other universities by multiple-way audio and video transmission in real time. For example, the system was been used for radiology rounds, in which radiographs were transmitted between Kansas State and the University of Missouri and discussed over compressed video in real time by students and faculty at both universities. Greater coordination of class schedules among participating universities and easier equipment set up will be required before compressed video is feasible.

Another means of providing outreach is through electronic mail. Practitioners can send messages to faculty at Kansas State by electronic mail or can browse an electronic bulletin board 24 hours a day. We plan to explore offering some courses (professional and continuing education) over electronic mail. Faculty post questions to students on a computer bulletin board set up for the class. Messages can be private or shared with everyone in the class.

Technical Support Team. The College provides a multimedia specialist (self-taught) housed in the MDL for easy access, who, in addition to preparing multimedia lessons himself, trains and helps faculty prepare multimedia lessons and coordinates the activities of 4 part-time student employees (60 hrs/week total) who complete many of the mundane tasks of multimedia lesson development. Personnel from the College's Computer Services Group help the multimedia specialist by providing him and other computer users with computer and networking support. Additional support is provided by the College's Audio Visual Resource Facility (AVR) and by the Regent's Educational Communications Center (ECC) on campus. AVR and ECC are fully equipped and staffed video production and telecommunications studios. In addition, the ECC has all necessary equipment for remote production.

Evaluation Team. Faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Education, College of Human Ecology, Office of Program Planning and Evaluation Services, and Department of Statistics combine to form a team to study the effectiveness and efficiency of multimedia. Records kept on usage of the lessons, questionnaires, test results, and performance comparisons between students that use multimedia and students that do not are used to evaluate the effectiveness of multimedia instruction.

A comprehensive multimedia instructional delivery system composed of 1) a Multimedia Development Laboratory, 2) a Multimedia Access Center, 3) multi-media equipped classrooms and laboratories, 4) a technical support team, and 5) a research and evaluation team is described for enhancing veterinary medicine education, especially cased-based instruction. The steps we plan to take to help faculty get started are to 1) demonstrate a lesson we have already put together to illustrate what is possible with multimedia and 2) put together a multimedia lesson on how to prepare a multimedia lesson. Lessons produced by use of these facilities should provide students with equal 24-hour-a-day access to interesting cases and faculty experts. Realistic multimedia presentations of cases may reduce need for instruction using live animals. Sharing multimedia lessons and providing students with access to faculty at other universities over a national network may reduce need for having experts for every specialty and species on the faculty at each university.

The multimedia components (hardware and software) selected for the Kansas State facilities and the rationales for selecting them are presented, which should help other colleges in making purchasing decisions. However, the field is changing quickly, so readers must not use these recommendations without obtaining the latest information. The criteria used for selecting which multimedia lessons should be developed using College resources also are presented.

The facilities described should improve instruction by requiring students to take a more active role in their education. Interactive multimedia allow students to learn material when they choose and at their own pace. Students also have flexibility in the sequence in which material is learned and to what depth. Students may gain access to information quicker because they have random instead of sequential access to information.

We found that multimedia technology has sufficiently advanced (e.g., speedy transmission of full-screen nearly actual speed video over a computer network) to make an investment in desktop multimedia equipment justifiable. The time-cost of developing multimedia lessons may be high initially, but after lessons are developed, less faculty time need be spent lecturing. Whether faculty actually reduce lecture hours as a result of adopting interactive multimedia, however, is yet to be seen. We believe eager faculty will find time to develop multimedia lessons if equipment and technical help are readily available; if such lessons help them meet their instructional goals; and if faculty are recognized by their students, peers, and evaluators for their efforts. It is our hope that administrators will acknowledge the development, evaluation, and publication of multimedia as scholarship and reward faculty for their efforts with promotion and tenure.

References and Endnotes
  1. Jones, David: IBM Corporation, personal communication.
  2. Hofstetter FT, Morgan M, Sine P, Timmins S and Wilson J: Design and construction of a multimedia technology cart for secure, efficient, and cost-conscious classroom use. A report from the Instructional Technology Center, University of Delaware, 1992.
  3. The authors wish to thank Dean Michael Lorenz for his encouragement and assistance in obtaining funds; R. Hetrick, T. Teske, P. Oblander, G. Knittle, and S. Allard for developing equipment specifications, writing purchase orders, and making equipment operational; IBM Corporation, Hill's Pet Products, Alumni of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Computing and Network Services, and the State of Kansas taxpayers for providing funding.