Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Paul Newhouse

Abstract

Most commercial interactive multimedia authoring packages are designed to be used by teachers and trainers to build commercial training or classroom teaching applications (Handler, Dana, Peters & Moor, 1995; Magel, 1997). The evolution of interactive multimedia technologies however, has made it possible for students to become actively involved in creating their own interactive multimedia projects, and in so doing, gain considerable learning benefit (Lehrer 1993). Facilitating this in the classroom and particularly at the Year Seven level, requires the use of a cost-effective, purpose-built authoring tool. Digital Chisel 3.0 (DC3), was developed by Pierian Spring Software (1997), as just such a product. This study was a summative product evaluation, utilising qualitative methodology that assessed the effectiveness of DC3, as a multimedia authoring tool for student use in a Year Seven classroom. Two adult expert reviewers and four Year Seven students assisted with the evaluation. The sources of evidence for this study included the use of participant observation, conversational and semi-structured interview, video recording, questionnaire and anecdotal field notes. The process of analysis was inductive, using the Analytic Framework suggested by Le Compte, Millroy & Preissle, (1992, pp. 763-766). Digital Chisel 3.0 was packaged with an easy to read printed manual and a useful audio/visual library on CD-ROM. With WYSIWYG display and drag-and-drop visual programming environments, the students found the component routines in DC3 relatively easy to learn. The use of the Microsoft style of interface and edit conventions allowed the previous learning of the students to be readily transferred to this product. The students also found constructing complex interactions in the Workbench relatively easy to master, as no scripting was required. DC3 was also customisable to three learning/school levels. Probably the most outstanding problem with this application was the amount of RAM it required to run efficiently. In it's former configuration, it did not allow 'room' for multi-tasking and definitely did not run smoothly at the recommended 32 Megabytes of RAM. This both lowered the efficiency of operation, and severely challenged the motivation of all the users. The Table facility was almost totally unusable, as it failed to hold inserted elements and remained unstable through all attempts to use it. Although the intention for DC3 was to allow for cross-platform application, this function was not evident at the time it was evaluated. However, despite its shortcomings, Digital Chisel 3.0 proved to be well received by the students. They expressed enthusiasm for the extra freedom that this product's features provided.

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