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New Software To Debut At Telelecture

From Chapel Hill News
March 3, 1996

By Janice Daquila

When Bert Dempsey takes the lecture podium Thursday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his usual class of Carolina students won't be looking on.

Instead, University of Virginia students will hear and see Dempsey explain his research on error control for Multimedia Networks - from the comfort of their Charlottesville classroom.

Dempsey, assistant professor of information and library science at UNC-CH, will lecture from a distance-learning classroom in Chapel Hill using a novel Internet conferencing software, Grounds-Wide Teletutoring System. The new software, debuting Thursday , will allow the audio and video from the lecture, along with related graphics and text, to be digitized and sent via the Internet connection between the two schools.

Virginia computer science students, viewing the lecture on UNIX-based computers equipped with microphones and cameras, can ask questions during the presentation.

The experimental software package brings together recent advances in Internet conferencing research with the user-friendly World Wide Web. The software can run on several types of computers, including low cost personal computers. It also features standard Internet protocols.

The package, developed by a research group led by Virginia's Jorg Liebeherr, assistant professor of computer science, focuses on student-teacher interaction. The software allows the teacher to control the students' screens at a remote site and can display lecture materials. Part of the students' screens show audiovisuals for the lecture. Another area offers a space for the teacher to control graphics, text and annotations.

Lecture participants also have a World Wide Web browser on their screens. If the teacher loads his or her browser with a Web page, the students' screens show the same page. To aid in group discussion, control of the web browsers can be passed to a student.

"This package offers several advantages for distance-learning on the Internet," Dempsey said. In campus wide networks, for example, a faculty member could conduct electronic office hours where a student at any public computer lab or residence hall on the computer network could consult with the instructor. The software also may be increasingly important as the Internet's limited capacity for telelectures is improved.

"Experiments with interactive multimedia applications on the Internet, like the Carolina-Virginia telelecture, are important to help explore the technical limitations and socials dynamics of this emerging field," Dempsey said.

Dempsey currently is working with Liebeherr and his group to develop other scenarios for use of the Grounds Wide Teletutoring System. For more information, see http://www.ils.unc.edu/~bert or http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~gwtts/.


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