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Intelligent Classrooms Need Intelligent Interfaces: How To Build A High Tech Teaching Environment That Teachers Can Use?

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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

Issues in Computer Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.759.1 - 8.759.8

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Paper Authors

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Jeremy Cooperstock

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Intelligent Classrooms need Intelligent Interfaces: How to Build a High-Tech Teaching Environment that Teachers can use?

Jeremy R. Cooperstock Centre for Intelligent Machines, McGill University 3480 University Street Montreal, QC H3A 2A7 +1 514-398-5992

ABSTRACT A second issue of interest is the production and archiving With the introduction of increasingly sophisticated of on-line lecture material for later review by students or presentation technology into the classroom, including for the purposes of distance education. This has motivated multimedia projectors, VCRs, document cameras, and the development of lecture capture tools, spanning the digital whiteboards, a user interface is required to permit range from simple videotaping of classes to sophisticated, instructors control over the various devices. These computer-driven capture of slides, handwritten notes and interfaces typically suffer from inattention to human factors annotations, as well as the audio and video of the lecture. design principles or a general ignorance of the context in Again, these tools typically demand an unreasonable which they are intended for use. While the cognitive amount of attention from the instructor (or skilled demands on an instructor necessitate a user interface that technician) to be widely accepted by the teaching involves minimal interaction and poses minimal distraction, community. we often find that performing a task as simple as playing a This paper describes our response to these problems, which video tape requires over a dozen steps through the has been to augment electronic classrooms in the Faculty of classroom control system. Thus, instructors often find the Engineering at McGill University with context-aware interfaces distracting to the primary task, i.e. delivering an computer systems that assist the instructor in operating the effective lecture, rather than encouraging the use of helpful equipment and facilitate the lecture-capture process. The visual aids made available by the technology. challenges here are twofold: first, to make the use of Keywords electronic presentation technology as easy as the Intelligent environments, electronic classrooms, lecture conventional overhead projector and second, to produce a capture reasonable electronic record of the lecture without the need to involve a camera operator or additional production staff, INTRODUCTION and most importantly, without burdening the instructor As classroom technology has evolved from blackboards to with additional responsibilities. This approach was overhead transparencies to computers and multimedia motivated in part by previous success in augmenting a projectors, the potential for problems, ranging from simple state-of-the-art videoconference facility with context- equipment failure to instructor distraction due to interface sensitive reactive systems [6] and by instructor demand for complexity, has become a serious issue. State-of-the-art less cumbersome control interfaces. We were also curious electronic classrooms, featuring diverse presentation to experiment with lecture capture software and to evaluate media, typically include a powerful control interface to student reaction to its use in our engineering classes. operate these devices, but insufficient thought has been given to the actual needs of the user community, that is, the We begin with a review of related work, followed by a lecturers. As a result, instructors often find themselves detailed description of our classroom’s hardware and pressing dozens of buttons throughout a lecture, in order to software architecture. Next, we describe how the lecture raise and lower projection screens, adjust the room lighting capture tools were integrated with this environment to as appropriate to the brightness of the media, and switching facilitate the production of an on-line record of the class, between the various input sources for display. All too both in terms of instructors’ ease-of-use and quality of the often, such tedious interaction is not only distracting and end result. prone to error, but worse, often unnecessary. Many of the RELATED WORK operational sequences involved in controlling the A number of lecture capture systems have been developed classroom technology can be automated to a significant by various groups, including North Carolina State degree, while still permitting the user to invoke a manual University’s Web Lecture System [13], the Berkeley override as desired. Multimedia Research Center’s Lecture Broswer [11], MANIC [13], AutoAuditorium [4], STREAMS [6],

Cooperstock, J. (2003, June), Intelligent Classrooms Need Intelligent Interfaces: How To Build A High Tech Teaching Environment That Teachers Can Use? Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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