Les Systèmes Multi-Agents pour les Environnements Virtuels de ...
BLENDING STREAMING MULTIMEDIA AND
COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN
ADVANCED WEB-BASED EDUCATION
Abstract WBE at BU. Bradley University was one of first U.S.
universities that, back in mid-1990s, provided their students
The InterLabs Research Institute (IRI) at Bradley University (BU), Peoria, IL, with access to the Internet from university dorms in order to
USA, is hosting the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) grant # 0196015 
involve students into advanced technology-based education.
on design and development of advanced online educational materials for Web-
based education (WBE) in Information Technology, Computer Science and As a continuation of this outstanding initiative, these days all
Computer Information Systems areas. This paper briefly describes main IRI’s Bradley students who reside on campus (about 50% of Bradley
achievements in design and development of innovative online courseware, students live in dorms and additionally about 20% in fraternity
provides details on IRI’s solutions for applications of innovative streaming
multimedia and World Wide Web (Web)-based communications technology in
houses) have access to Internet-2 from their rooms.
the developed by IRI original InterLabs Web-lecturing system, and contains BU is a corporate user of the BlackBoard  learning
summaries of faculty and student feedback on applications of innovative management system (LMS) from 2000. Tables 1 and 2
technologies for Web-based teaching and learning. represent some available statistics on utilization of the
BlackBoard LMS at BU between Fall 2000 and Fall 2003
Key Words: Advanced Web-based education, streaming multimedia
technology, Web-based communication technology, faculty and student semesters.
Number of Online Courses Taught at BU in 2000-2003
1. Introduction (per college and per semester)
BU Number of Online Courses Taught (per semester)
Bradley University (BU). Founded by Mrs. Lydia Moss Colle- Fall Fall Fall Spring Fall Average
Bradley in 1897, Bradley University  is a private, ges 200 2001 2002 2003 2003 per
independent university offering undergraduate, graduate, and 0 semester
continuing education programs in the liberal and fine arts, the EHS 75 92 134 88 177 113.2
sciences, business administration, communications, education, ENG 24 26 32 43 38 32.6
engineering, and the health sciences. With about 330 full-time LAS 60 81 81 97 112 86.2
faculty, 5,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students, BUS 33 70 95 109 111 83.6
Bradley offers excellent teaching, and the opportunities and CFA 16 29 34 38 56 34.6
choices of a larger university (with over 90 degree programs Total 208 298 376 375 494 350.2
in 5 colleges plus a graduate school) and the quality, personal
attention, and challenge of a small private college. BU has 5 Table 2.
WBE at BU: Fall-2002 and Spring-2003 Statistics
colleges, specifically: 1) College of Education and Health
Sciences (EHS), 2) College of Engineering and Technology Characteristic Data
(ENG), 3) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), 4) Total number of BU academic courses 494
Foster College of Business Administration (BUS), and 5) (either entire course or several parts of a
Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts (CFP). course) being taught during Fall-2003
semester using BlackBoard system
Total number of Bradley students that use 4,992
BlackBoard LMS during Spring-2003 (or, about 83% of
* Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, Bradley semester BU students)
University, Peoria, Il 61625, U.S.A.; email: firstname.lastname@example.org Average hits of BlackBoard server per day
(paper no. 202-1456) - Fall-2000 semester 19,655
- Fall-2002 semester 39,079
Total hits of BlackBoard server per 4,103,300 Maryland, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of
Fall-2002 semester at BU North Carolina, University of Notre Dame, University of
Total number of BU full-time faculty 205 Pennsylvania, University of Richmond, University of
being involved into WBE during (or, about 62% of Rochester, University of Southern California, University of
Fall-2002 semester BU full-time faculty)
Texas - Dallas, University of Virginia, University of
Wisconsin - Madison, Vanderbilt University, Vassar College,
Based on these obvious achievements in advanced WBE,
Wake Forest University, Washington and Lee University,
Bradley faculty continue to perform active research on
Washington University in St.Louis, Wellesley College,
applications of innovative Web-based teaching and learning
Wesleyan University, Wheaton College, Whitman College,
that are based on advanced streaming multimedia (SMM) and
Williams College, Yale University, and Yeshiva University.
Web-based communication (WBC) technologies.
Brief results of performed research are presented in Table
2. Utilization of SMM and WBC Technologies:
Comparative Analysis Table 3.
Multimedia and Communication Technologies in WBE
(based on analysis of publicly open educational Web sites and/or
2.1.Utilization of SMM and WBC Technologies at accessible Web-Based courseware of 100 U.S. institutions)
100 U.S. Colleges and Universities
Technology Utilization by
Between September 2002 and October 2003, the IRI  mentioned schools
faculty and students performed research on multimedia and Communication Technology Used
communication technologies, and learning management E-mail 100
systems that are actively used by various U.S. universities and Bulletin board (discussion forum) 77
colleges. Chat room 42
The educational web sites with free access and/or free Video/audio conferencing over the Internet 33
demo versions of online courses of the following educational Online project teams (collaborative 15
institutions have been investigated and analyzed: Amherst learning)
Multimedia Technology Used
College, Bard College, Barnard College, Bates College,
Microsoft PowerPoint slides or other types 100
Boston University, Bowdoin College, Bradley University, of slides
Brandeis University, Brown University, Bryn Mawr College, Hyperlinks to Internet-based knowledge 100
Bucknell University, California Institute Of Technology, resources
Carleton College, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Online testing 66
Reserve University, Claremont McKenna College, Colby Streaming video and audio technologies 41
College, Colgate University, College of Holy Cross, College Learning content on interactive CD ROMs 38
of William and Mary, Colorado College, Colorado School of Recorded Computer Screen (RCS) 14
Mines, Cornell University, Columbia University, Connecticut technology (or, recorded hands-on
College, Dartmouth College, Davidson College, Duke exercises, or, narrated and animated story
University, Emory University, Furman University, George boards
Washington University, Georgetown University, Georgia Other types of technologies used to deliver 10
Institute of Technology, Grinnell College, Hampshire College,
Learning Management Systems Used
Harvard University, Harvey Mudd College, Haverford Learning management system (like WebCT – 38
College, Illinois Central College, Johns Hopkins University, BlackBoard, WebCT, etc.) BlackBoard – 36
Kenyon College, Lehigh University, Middlebury College, Other - 26
Midstate College, Mount Hollyoke College, New York Reusable Learning Objects (RLO) Concept Used
University, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Utilization of reusable learning objects and 14
Occidental College, Pennsylvania State University, Pomona compatibility with SCORM, IMS or Dublin
College, Princeton University, Reed College, Rensselaer Core requirements
Polytechnic Institute, Rice University, Scripps College, Smith
College, St.Mary's College of Maryland, Stanford University, One of the most important conclusions of this research is
SUNY Binghamton University, Swarthmore College, that the state-of-the-art WBC technologies such as email,
Syracuse University, Trinity College, Trinity University, Tufts bulletin boards, IRC (chat rooms), video- and audio-
University, Tulane University, University Of California at conferencing are a vital part of modern WBE systems and
Berkley, University Of California - Davis, University of advanced Web-based teaching and learning processes.
California - Irvin, University of California - Las Angeles, The other important conclusion is that utilization of streaming
University of California -San Diego, University of California - video and audio technologies in education had a 40% growth
Santa Barbara, University of Chicago, University of Florida, between 1999 and 2003.
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of
3. InterLabs Web-Lecturing System 6. multiple modes of learning such as a)
offline (asynchronous) learning, b) online
3.1. Founding Principles (synchronous) learning, and c) blended
The state-of-the-art InterLabs Web-lecturing system
(InterLabs) was designed, developed and tested by IRI faculty
and students [6,7,8,9,10] as a part of the NSF CCLI grant. 3.2. Technical Characteristics.
This software system is based on several founding principles,
specifically: A list of available tools of the InterLabs systems and their
1. innovative software: innovative software engineering technical specifications is given below. It is necessary to
technologies and programming languages (VB.Net, mention here that all used tools are based on free shareware
XML, J2EE, PHP); and are available on corresponding web sites.
2. streaming technologies: utilization of innovative SMM
technologies; InterLabs Hardware Set-Up:
3. Web-based communication technologies: active use of 1. Data Server: Compaq Prosignia 740,
WBC technologies; - Dual PIII processors (866 MHz each),
4. modularity: modularity of learning content and learning - 108 GB HDD (SCSI RAID),
processes, and orientation on Reusable Learning Objects - 1.0 GB MD RAM,
(RLO) strategy and corresponding initiatives such as - 100BaseTX network card.
SCORM, IMS, Dublin Core, etc.; 2. Video Server: Dell Power Edge 2600,
5. intelligence: intelligent and program agents technology; - Dual PIII processors (2.4 MHz each),
6. multiple teaching styles: support of various Web-based - 296 GB HDD (SCSI RAID),
teaching styles and technologies, - 2.0 GB RAM,
7. multiple delivery modes: active utilization of various - 1000BaseTX network card.
modes of Web-based content delivery, 3. Digital Video Camera (for video taping):
8. equivalence of delivered learning content: equivalence - SONY HandyCam TRV98 (with both 8mm and digital
of online (Web), offline (CD ROMs), blended and in- technologies),
classroom modes of content delivery and learning. - ATI TV Wonder-VE video capture card.
4. Digital PC Video Camera (for videoconferencing):
Currently (Fall 2003), the InterLabs system supports : - 3COM Home Connect.
1. various Web-based teaching/lecturing technologies
such as a) talking head (Figure 1), b) white board or InterLabs Software Set-Up:
smart board, and c) Recorded Computer Screen (RCS)
technology or online hands-on exercises (Figures 2 and
1. Operating System: Windows’2000 Server (Serv. Pack 2),
3); 2. Web server: Internet Information Server (IIS) 5.0,
2. various WBC technologies such as email, bulletin board, 3. Streaming Video and Audio Server: Microsoft Media
video/audio-conferencing, whiteboard, IRC (chat), online Services.
3. various multimedia technologies such as text, graphics, Audio/Video Conferencing and WhiteBoard Tool:
animation, audio, video, simulation, etc, and SMM 1. Microsoft NetMeeting 3.01,
technologies such as streaming video and audio, and 2. 3COM Home Connect digital PC video camera,
animation; 3. external or built-in microphone,
4. multiple modes of online content 4. Boston external speakers,
delivery (Figure 4) via a) 56K modems, b) 5. Audio compression: Microsoft G723 protocol,
DSL and cable modems, and c) CD ROMs; 6. H.323 audio and video conferencing standard.
upon request, the InterLabs system can
deliver: Streaming Video/Audio and Video/Audio Files:
- PPT slides only; 1. Video Encoding (for video file compression):
- a combination of audio and synchronized - 250 kbps for video using MPEG4V3 (also known as
PPT slides; ASF) codec by Microsoft Corp. with 15 frames per
- a combination of audio, video and second,
synchronized PPT slides; - 320 x 240 pixels of video window size, and
5. combined mode of operation (Figure - 16-bit color,
5) as the united BlackBoard-InterLabs 2. Audio Encoding (for audio file compression):
virtual learning environment; - 50 kbps for audio using MP3 compression at 44.1 kHz,
3. TCP/IP protocol is used for streaming video/audio,
4. Playback (on client’s side) via Microsoft Media Player forms to identify student pre-course and post-course skills, 3)
ActiveX Control (for both video and audio files). detailed results of those surveys, and 4) academic performance
of CIS102 online students versus CIS102 traditional students,
are given in [11,12].
2000-2003 multiple surveys of CIS102 students clearly
demonstrated that CIS102 online course based on the
InterLabs Web-lecturing system truly supports the student-
centered paradigm of education [13,14,15,16,17].
“Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not
always like being taught” (Winston Churchill).
The main principles of this paradigm are given below;
they reflect the idea that each and every student/learner is
unique, and, therefore, he or she should have a choice to select
learning technologies and processes that are optimal for them.
Main principles include: 1) individualism of each student, 2)
personal learning technology, 3) personality and curiosity, 4)
personal creativity and motivation, 5) individual past
experience, 6) friendly and comfortable learning environment,
7) personal limit of perception and learning, 8) personal Limit
of acceptance of information, 9) linkage of new knowledge to
existing knowledge, and 10) eagerness to learn.
Figure 4. Modes of Web-based content delivery in the A short summary of student feedback on CIS102 online
InterLabs system course is given in Table 9.
A Summary of Bradley Students’ Feedback
on CIS102 Bradley Academic Online Course
Benefit Details and student’s comments
Conve- • Online learning is self-paced, and, thus, very
nience convenient for students (“I can learn at any
time, any Saturday or Sunday; any holiday”; “I
can slow down or speed up as necessary”)
• Course fit students’ schedule (“I have a full-time
4-hours a week position; it was difficult for me to
attend lectures regularly”); as a result, greater
number of students can take online course
• Online course did not require student’s physical
attendance (except 3 midterms and final exam ) –
this is very convenient for adult students;
• On-demand access to learning content is very
convenient and effective -- putting course content
on both course Web server and CD ROMs is very
Figure 5. Interface of the united InterLabs-BlackBoard convenient for students
virtual learning environment. • Students are unbound by time (Web server
delivers learning content24/7/365); moreover,
students received a set of CD ROMS with entire
1. Student Feedback. learning content
• Students are unbound by place (“I was able to
The introductory CIS102 Computer Information Systems study at home, at work, and even on road”)
course at Bradley University may serve as an excellent • Online course accommodates various learning
example of the InterLabs-based online course. This academic technologies (for example, lecturing; hands-on
course is a required course for all freshman students with exercises; guided research, etc.) that makes it
major in Engineering, Business, Communication, Sciences or more effective to various groups of students
Education areas. It is offered every semester (Fall and Spring), • Online learning eliminates or reduces travel time
and associated costs (parking, fuel, vehicle
and every 3-week Interim Session (January and May) at
Bradley. Multiple details of CIS102 course’s 1) main topics,
• Overall student costs of online learning are
2) main components (reusable learning objects), 3) evaluation
frequently less (tuition fee, residence, child care)  BlackBoard LMS system at http://www.blackboard.com
 InterLabs research Institute at http://www.interlabs.bradley.edu
 AccuStream iMedia Research at http://www.accustreamresearch.com/
 V. Uskov, 3rd Generation Web-Based Instructional Tool for Education
and Lifelong Training, International Journal on Continuing Education
and Lifelong Learning, Vol. 13, Nos. ½, 2003, pp. 110-131.
 V. Uskov and A. Uskov, National Science Foundation Project on Web-
Based Undergraduate Education in Information Engineering
Technology, Proceedings of the IASTED International Conference on
Computers and Advanced Technology in Education CATE/WBE-2002,
Cancun, Mexico, May 20-22, 2002.
 V. Uskov and L. Sheremetov, InterLabs: The web-Lecturing Multiagent-
based Tool, Proceedings of the IASTED International Conference on
Artificial Intelligence and Soft Computing ASC-2001, Cancun, Mexico,
May 21-24, 2001.
 V. Uskov and C. Etaugh, Developing Innovative Web-Lecturing
Technology and Online Courses at Bradley University, Proceedings of
the International Conference on Computers in Education ICCE-2002,
Auckland, New Zealand, December 3-6, 2002.
 V. Uskov and M. Uskova, Reusable Learning and Information Atoms
Approach to Web-Based Education, International Journal on Computers
and Applications, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2003, pp. 188-197.
 V. Uskov, Design, development and Teaching of Innovative Web-Based
Introductory Computer Information Systems Course, Proceedings of the
32nd ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Nov 6-9, 2002,
 V. Uskov, Student-Centered Learning in Online and Blended Education
on Computer Information Systems, Proceedings of the 33rd ASEE/IEEE
Frontiers in Education Conference, Nov 5-9, 2003, Boulder, CO.
 M. Rosenberg, E-Learning, McGraw-Hill, 2001
 C. McCormack, and D. Jones, Web-Based Education Systems,
Wiley Computer Publishing, 1998.
These conclusions motivate faculty and students of the  W.Horton, Designing Web-Based Training, Wiley Computer
InterLabs Research Institute at Bradley University to continue
 A. Rossett, The ASTD E-Learning Handbook,McGRaw-Hill,
their active research on applications of SMM and WBC
technologies in advanced Web-based education.
 H. Adelsberger, B. Collis, J. Pawlowski, (Eds), Handbook on
Information Technologies for Education and Training, Springer-Verlag,
Acknowledgements Berlin, Germany, 2002.
 B. Collis and J. Moonen, Flexible Learning in a Digital World, Kogan
The authors would like to thank the Course, Curriculum Page, 2002.
and Lab Improvement (CCLI) Program of the National  T. Russell, “No Great Difference” Phenomenon of Distance Education”
at http://tenb.mta.ca/phenom/ phenom.html
Science Foundation that awarded them with the NSF
grant # 0196015 to perform research on innovative SMM
and WBC technologies, and design and development of
the innovative online courseware in Information Biographies
Technology, Computer Science and Computer
Information Systems areas. Vladimir Uskov, Ph.D., is a professor
The authors also would like to thank Dr. Claire Etaugh, of Computer Science and Information
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Jim Systems at Bradley University,
Miller, Chair, Department of Computer Science and Peoria, IL, USA. He is also a co-
Information Systems, Bradley University, for their Director of the InterLabs Research
permanent strong support of authors’ research activities in Institute at Bradley University. He
the advanced Web-Based Education area. published 208 professional
publications in three different
languages, including 3 books, 3
References chapter textbooks, and 31 journal articles. Dr. Uskov is a
principal investigator of the NSF CCLI grant 0196015
 National Science Foundation CCLI Grant # 0196015 at (2000-2004) on Web-based education. He was a co-principal
http://www.nsf.gov investigators of the NSF ATE grant # 9950029 (1999-2003)
 Bradley University at http://www.bradley.edu and NSF Planning grant (2000-2001) on Web-Based
Education, IT-Based Education and e-Technologies in Moscow, Russia. His research interests are in Web-Based
Education. Dr. Uskov obtained M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Education, e-Learning, e-Training, and Streaming Multimedia
Computer Science from the Moscow Aviation University, areas.