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Belshazzar: A Simple Tool For Creating And Publishing Voice Annotated Drawings On The Web

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Internet Programming and Applications

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.263.1 - 8.263.8



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Miller

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Steve Walsh

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Leigh Haefner

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Hollylynne Stohl

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2258

Belshazzar: A Simple Tool for Creating and Publishing Voice-Annotated Drawings on the Web

Thomas K. Miller III, Stephen J. Walsh, Hollylynne Stohl, and Leigh Ann Haefner

North Carolina State University

Engineering faculty are often discouraged by the challenges of participating in distance learning, or incorporating on-line learning approaches in their courses. A particularly important challenge is the time-, skill-, and resource-intensive endeavor of producing web-based content for students. This is particularly true in engineering and scientific and mathematically-based disciplines, where much of the content involves representing concepts through diagrams and equations. While the tools for electronic production of text-based content are well-developed and very easy to use, the production of more technologically sophisticated content needed to represent engineering concepts is much more challenging. For example, suppose a student in an introductory circuits course is having trouble conceptualizing reducing a circuit to its Thevenin equivalent. With pencil and paper during face-to-face interaction, the instructor could illustrate and explain the problem solving process. In contrast, producing a web-based resource to accomplish the same purpose would be a very time-consuming ordeal, typically requiring skill with sophisticated software tools.

At North Carolina State University we have developed a simple tool, we call Belshazzar, that allows an instructor to dynamically capture the problem solving process in action with a voice- annotated representation. This information is captured in real time on a PC as an instructor explains the process using pen and paper. With one click this process can be replayed, and with a second click published to the Web as a Flash™ movie. The result is a web page where the voice- annotated representation is reproduced in real time for the student. Because we capture and render pen stroke information, the movies are high resolution, yet low bandwidth (they work well over a 56K modem link).

Instructional Underpinnings

Communication about scientific, mathematical and highly technical concepts is connected to being able to represent ideas in a form that can be used as a “didactical object”9 as something that can be a focus of conversation. An object (e.g., drawing, graph, diagram) is not didactic in and of itself. It becomes didactic because of the conversations it can enable between persons who have conceived the object as something important to talk about. In addition, it is not only the object that can enable such conversations. The process of creating the object can also be a focus for conversation and reflection. Thus, it is important for students to be able to experience the process of creating a representation (representing) as well as the finished product (a representation). A tool like Belshazzar can help students experience both the process and product aspect and listen

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Miller, T., & Walsh, S., & Haefner, L., & Stohl, H. (2003, June), Belshazzar: A Simple Tool For Creating And Publishing Voice Annotated Drawings On The Web Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12235

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