David Taniar Wenny Rahayu
Department of Information Studies School of Comp. Sc. and Comp. Eng.
Swinburne University of Technology La Trobe University
P.O.Box 218, Hawthorn Bundoora
Victoria 3122 Victoria 3083
Multimedia technology has become increasingly
popular. This paper presents a course outline in multimedia. It
includes a description of the subjects and resource requirements.
The main objective of the course is to prepare students to become
multimedia designers and engineers in their areas of expertise.
Multimedia systems combine a variety of information
sources, such as voice, graphics, animation, images, audio, and
full motion video, into a wide range of applications (Fuhrt, 1994).
Multimedia is often associated with the information superhighway,
with interactive TV that has anything on-demand (such as
video, products, and information), or with hypermedia (Rodriguez
and Rowe, 1995). Others see multimedia as the effort to combine
different types of media to convey enriched information to users
Multimedia has gained its popularity not only because
its attractive features (eg., images, animation, sound), but also
its usefulness in many areas (eg., sciences, arts, business).
Practitioners from diverse disciplines and backgrounds are motivated
by the promise of multimedia. Many of these people are interested
in new applications or enhancing existing ones with multimedia.
Formal courses in multimedia offered at an undergraduate
and postgraduate levels are rare. Universities are generally not
prepared to provide courses, partly because of not knowing what
to offer, what facilities are required, and what kind of expertise
is needed. In this paper, we propose an innovative course in multimedia
at a diploma or a graduate diploma level. This proposal can be
used as a guideline to establish such a course at any university.
Although this course can be registered under the department of
information technology/computing sciences, it is not merely a
computer-based course, as students are to be familiar with other
areas where multimedia can be used.
The main objective of this course is to prepare
students to become multimedia designers and engineers in their
areas of expertise. This one-year full-time diploma course is
targeted to students from multi disciplines.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows:
section 2 describes the course structure and section 3 explains
the resources needed to support the course. Finally, section 4
gives the conclusions.
2. Course Structure
The course comprises 6 subjects and 1 full-year project
(equivalent to two subjects). The subjects include:
1. Introduction to Multimedia Information Systems,
2. Multimedia Programming,
3. Multimedia Design,
4. Multimedia Technology,
5. Multimedia Networking,
6. Multimedia Selections, and
7. Multimedia Software Development Project.
The descriptions of the subjects are as follows.
2.1. Introduction to Multimedia Information Systems
Topics: Multimedia Computers,
Multimedia Technology, Media Taxonomy, and Multimedia Applications.
The aim of this subject is to provide an introduction
to multimedia information systems, which includes multimedia technology,
multimedia media, and applications.
The complexity of multimedia applications stress
all components of a computer system (Gemmell et al., 1995; Ramanathan
and Rangan, 1994). Multimedia requires great processing power
to implement software codes, multimedia file systems, and corresponding
file formats. The architecture must provide high bus bandwidth
and efficient I/O. Storage and memory requirements include very
high capacity, fast access times, and high transfer rates. In
this subject, basic aspects of multimedia computers will be studied.
It is important to be familiar with different types
of media, as multimedia itself refers to "many media".
Typical media types are text, graphics, sound, and motion (Heller
and Martin, 1995). These media contain several characteristic,
such as temporal endurance (permanent or transient), granularity
(continuous or discrete), baggage (low or high), detectability
(low, medium or high), and media type (aural or visual).
To date, multimedia applications can be found in
most disciplines. It is beneficial for students to explore multimedia
applications in the areas they are familiar with. The purpose
is to exploit the advantages of applying multimedia to non-computing
2.2. Multimedia Programming
Topics: Introduction to
programming, Program constructs, Multimedia objects, User interface
programming, and Authoring.
Multimedia programming gives different emphasis
from that of conventional programming. Multimedia programming
is an exercise in building multimedia applications using visual
languages and/or multimedia packages (Buford, 1994, Furuta and
Stotts, 1995). Multimedia programming deals with user interface
programming (Blattner, 1994). The languages used are very much
visual based, rather than imperative based.
At the end of the semester, students are expected
to master one visual programming language and one authoring package.
2.3. Multimedia Design
Topics: Scripting, User
Interface, User Needs Analysis, Modelling, and Design.
This subject teaches how to design multimedia applications.
To give a deep knowledge of multimedia design, an application
in hypermedia is chosen. Hypermedia is selected because it is
the science of relationships (Buford, 1994; Ginige et al., 1995).
It concerns structuring, presenting, and giving users direct access
to content and interconnections within an information domain.
Hypermedia functionalities, such as navigation, annotation, and
information overviews, enhance applications.
The importance of hypermedia design is based on
the following (Garzotto et al., 1995; Ginige et al, 1995; Nanard
et al., 1995). First, hypermedia applications involve many different
components, such as navigation, user-interface, content storage,
and existing preparation. Second, conventional data models such
as data flow diagrams, entity-relationship diagrams, and object-oriented
diagrams cannot represent the detailed elements of hypermedia
applications. And third, many hypermedia developers have little
experience incorporating hypermedia into their designs and implementation
effectively. They also have little experience in evaluating hypermedia
systems. Hence, there is a clear need to address a number of important
issues in hypermedia design.
In this subject, several multimedia design methodologies
are studied, particularly structured multimedia design
(Isakowitz et al. 1995), object-oriented multimedia design
(Schwabe and Rossi, 1995), and the HDM model (Garzotto
et al., 1995).
2.4. Multimedia Technology
Topics: Digital Video,
Image Compression, File systems and Operating systems for continuous
The study on digital video and image compression
is important because reducing the amount of data needed to reproduce
images or video saves storage spaces, increases access speed,
and it is the only way to achieve digital motion video on personal
computers (Buford, 1994; Fuhrt, 1994). Compression techniques
clearly plays a crucial role in digital multimedia applications,
since audio, image and video signals require vast amount of data.
A number of compression techniques exist, such as JPEG, MPEG,
etc (Buford, 1994; Fuhrt, 1994). Digital data compression relies
on various computational algorithm, implemented either in hardware
or in software.
The achievements of multimedia information systems
faces a variety of technical problems, which are due in part to
two characteristics of multimedia information: large amount of
data and stringent temporal constraints of both delivery and recording.
Conventional file systems and database management systems are
not designed to meet the performance requirements of multimedia
information systems (Buford, 1994). Knowing the problem faced
by conventional file systems and operating systems, it becomes
critical to find a solution for an efficient storage and retrieval
of multimedia data.
2.5. Multimedia Networks
Topics: Multimedia Networking,
Real-Time, Synchronization, Teleconferencing, and Distributed
Multimedia systems include multiple sources of various
media either spatially or temporally to create composite multimedia
documents. Consequently, synchronization plays an important part
in orchestrating different medium to perform harmoniously (Buford,
A central issue of multimedia computing is how to
provide real-time execution to enable delivery and presentation
of continuous synchronized media (Rodriguez and Rowe, 1995; Fuhrt
et al., 1995). In addition to requiring real-time execution, multimedia
computing and networking methods must perform reliably. This imposes
new requirements on network system components (Nahrstedt and Steinmetz,
1995). In this subject, the student studies the use of networking
in multimedia applications.
Multimedia conferencing systems enable a number
of participants to exchange various multimedia information via
voice and data networks (Buford, 1994; Fuhrt, 1994). Each participant
can send and receive video, audio and data, and can perform certain
2.6. Multimedia Selections
subjects with a focus on applying multimedia to those areas.
Each student is to choose a subject offered by a
non-computing department, such as health/biology, film/television,
arts, psychology, arts, marketing, with an emphasis on how multimedia
can be applied to one of these areas (Schank, 1994; Simon et al.,
1995; Woolf and Hall, 1995). Each student is to complete a minor
multimedia project in this subject area. The project is presented
in a seminar format at the end of the semester.
2.7. Multimedia Software Development Project
Topics: Software engineering,
Project management, Team work, Software process, and Quality control
This is a one-year project where students develop
professional multimedia projects. Apart from developing projects,
students are also taught project management, and conventional
Sample projects includes: Computer-Based Tutorials
(CBT), Multimedia Presentations, Multimedia Database Systems,
Simulations, Multimedia Questions Banks, Experimental Systems,
Computer-Based Tutorials (CBT)
CBT is a self learning tool. It consists of both
lessons and assessment (Alonso et al., 1995; Schank, 1994; Woolf
and Hall, 1995). The project is to develop a CBT for a subject
which involves not only text, but also images, video, and animation.
Multimedia presentations are typically linear sequences
of information, so the interfaces for users have often been organized
along the time dimension. A presentation project can be developed
to promote a product, to provide information, etc (Bieber and
Kacmar, 1995; Buford, 1994; Vetter, 1995)
Multimedia Database Systems
Research and prototypes/products of multimedia database
management systems are not matured yet (Buford 1994). However,
it is possible to develop a database application with emphasis
on storing and retrieving images, video clip, animation, etc,
using an existing DBMS. This DBMS usually provides a data type,
such as bitmap, to store objects. Students can experience developing
a database application that contains many binary object fields
Most authoring tools provide simulation features.
Simulation program can in fact be implemented by animation. Thus,
this project concentrates on animation component of multimedia.
Multimedia Question Banks
Multimedia question banks typically consist of queries
with multimedia features (Taniar and Rahayu, 1995, 1996). This
means that the questions can be presented not only in text, but
also in any other forms, eg., images, video. Students can experience
building an on-line test 'paper' with multimedia features.
This project is concerned with implementing theoretical
research projects, so that the benefits can be more recognized
(Alonso et al., 1995; Carrier et al., 1995; Vetter et al., 1995)
Resources needed to run this course can be categorized
into three classes: hardware, software, and personnel.
Hardware requirements can be classified into basic
requirements and optional. Basic hardware requirements include
common equipment to run computer courses with an addition of multimedia
kits (eg., CR-ROM, Sound Card, etc). Optional requirements list
additional equipment which may also be used to support the course.
Basic Hardware Requirements:
Pentium PCs with CD-ROM, Graphics/Video Cards, Multimedia Kits,
Scanners, Laser Printers, Video Camera, and Photo Camera.
Optional: SGI Multimedia
Workstations, Touched Screens, and Voice Recognition.
The software requirements can be categorized into
a) visual programming languages, b) database management systems
with capability to store and retrieve images, c) authoring packages,
and d) internet browsers.
Visual Programming Languages:
Visual Basic, Java, and Visual C++.
Database Management Systems:
Microsoft Access (or other Windows DBMSs), and O2 (or other OODBMSs).
Authoring Packages: any
authoring packages which offer features such as animation, video
clipping, sound, etc.
Internet Browsers: Netscape,
Personnel requirements for this course are a little
different from those of computer science/information technology.
Teaching and support staff must be innovative in multimedia. Thus,
not all current computer science staff are qualified.
A person who is familiar with multimedia information
systems to teach "Introduction to Multimedia Information
A person who is an expert in visual programming
to teach "Multimedia Programming". Existing lecturers
in imperative programming may or may not be experts in visual
programming. It must not be mistaken that this subject is not
a conventional programming subject. It is rather a programming
subject with an emphasis on user-interface programming, visual
programming and authoring. A person with a background of CBT coding
and authoring may be suitable to teach this subject.
A person who is an expert in scripting and hypermedia
design to teach "Multimedia Design". This subject is
different from conventional analysis and design subject in computer
science and information technology courses. An ideal person to
take this subject would be a professional instructional designer.
A person who is an expert in image compressions
and multimedia storage to teach "Multimedia Technology".
It must be emphasized that the file systems and operating systems
taught in this subject concentrate on multimedia aspects.
A person who is an expert in networking and its
applications in multimedia to teach "Multimedia Networks".
This subject covers not only basic networking but also problems
and issues of networking for multimedia applications. Although
the basic networking aspects are important, this subject must
balance basic networking with multimedia networking. After all,
the aim of this subject is to teach multimedia aspects of networking,
not a conventional data communication or networking subject.
A person who is an active researcher in multimedia
to become a convenor of the full-year project.
Technical support staff to handle hardware and software
are required. A multimedia programmer to help students with programming
problems is desirable.
We believe that we have entered an era where multimedia
technology engages in most professional areas. This is an exciting
time as the impact of multimedia technology is unavoidable. The
proposed course prepares students to be leaders in their areas
of expertise by employing multimedia technology.
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Taniar & Rahayu (c) 1996