User Experience Research Challenges in Media Spaces for eLearning

Speaker: Ronald Baecker , Knowledge Media Design Institute and Dept of Computer Science, University of Toronto

Date: Thursday, May 08, 2008

Time: 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Refreshments: 12:15 PM

Public: Yes

Location: Patil/Kiva Seminar Room G449

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Host: Rob Miller, MIT CSAIL

Contact: Michael Bernstein, 253-0452,

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Reminder Subject: TALK: User Experience Research Challenges in Media Spaces for eLearning

Note the unusual seminar date and time!

Media spaces are environments that incorporate computer and communication technologies, typically including the Internet, to allow distributed groups of individuals to interact in real-time. My talk will begin by reviewing past media space work on desktop videoconferencing, electronic classrooms, and meeting capture, especially projects at Xerox, Toronto, Sun, Berkeley, Microsoft, and Georgia Tech. We focus particularly on webcasting as an interesting media space that has excellent potential for scalability across a large number of sites. The downside is that webcasting is typically a one-way broadcast from a transmitter to a multitude of receivers, and an ephemeral event that exists only during the live broadcast.

The Toronto ePresence Interactive Media system creates a media space that allows distributed groups of individuals to participate and interact in webcast events such as lectures, and to do so before, during, and after the event. ePresence incorporates a modular Web services architecture and XML-based data structures to facilitate interfacing with other eLearning, collaboration, and content management applications. The system supports the broadcasting of video, audio, slides, and screen captures; concurrent slide review; integrated moderated chat and VoIP support for questions and discussion; tailorable skins; the automated creation of embeddable, structured, navigable, and searchable event archives; and the bookmarking and tagging of points in archived presentations. Speakers are not forced to use Powerpoint — ePresence transmits several rich media presentation formats. Recently, a new webconferencing subsystem has been added.

The system is highly cross-platform, supports audio-only viewing at bandwidths as low as 56K, and is being distributed as open source source software. I shall introduce the system and describe some eLearning and medical education projects to which it has been applied.

Perhaps the most important achievement is the creation of a flexible, modular, extensible infrastructure for exploring frontiers of media spaces for learning and collaboration, for example:
• combining webcasting to many viewers with webconferencing to a few participants
• enhancing in-room awareness of remote participants via text chat displays and webcam slow scan video
• enabling persistent conversation over webcasts (both live and archived) for learning communities
• achieving voice recognition of lectures, and solving human factors issues with imperfect transcripts; and
• exploring the use of automated multi-camera cinematography for enhancing the sense of presence.
We shall report on recent results in tackling these challenges, and areas where work remains to be done.

Speaker Biography:
Ronald Baecker is Professor of Computer Science, Bell University Laboratories Chair in Human-Computer Interaction, and founder and Chief Scientist of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto. He is Affiliate Scientist with the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit of Baycrest, Adjunct Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and was during the first half of 2006 on academic leave as Visiting Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Baecker is also Principal Investigator of the CDN$5.5M Canada-wide NSERC Network for Effective Collaboration Technologies through Advanced Research (NECTAR), has been named one of the 60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics by ACM SIGGRAPH, has been elected to the CHI (Computers and Human Interaction) Academy by ACM SIGCHI, and has been awarded the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award and the Leadership Award of Merit from the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). He has published over 125 papers and articles, is author or co-author of four books and co-holder of 2 patents, and has founded and run two software companies. His current entrepreneurial venture is a virtual non-profit foundation within the University of Toronto to distribute and support the open source ePresence Interactive Media system ( His B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. are from M.I.T.

Joint work with Peter Wolf, Kelly Rankin, Gale Moore, Elaine Toms, Gerald Penn, Kostas Plataniotis, Rhys Causey, Cosmin Munteanu, Miller Peterson, Eric Smith, Dritan Xhibija, and James Vaughn.

Ron will be giving a different talk on Wednesday, May 7th at Harvard's Initiative for Innovative Computing, which may be of interest:

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See other events that are part of the HCI Seminar Series Spring 2008.

Created by Linda L. Julien Email at Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:23 AM.