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Advancing Education through Communications Technology in 1994

December 23, 2019


 

This segment from the summer of 1994, is part of an ongoing life story series, a work in progress. In many ways it relates to how Wikipedia changed my mind.

From 1992 to 1995, while earning my MA in Canadian Studies at Carleton, I presented a draft of my multi media project to my MA supervisor, Marion (Mame) Jackson and John Shepherd in the Bell Canada-funded theatre in the Minto Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering.

An article entitled “Advancing Education through Communications Technology” was published in the summer of 1994 in Carleton University’s The Charlatan under Carleton University Developments. With the addition of this new Minto theatre Carleton became one of the first universities in Canada to have multi media facilities (1994:3).

In the end, the administration decided that I could not present my MA thesis in a multi media format as a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM multi-media project “Jessie Oonark: Woman in the Centre” was one of many projects submitted as a requirement for my MA, not my thesis itself. My MA was transformed from the more traditional  thesis based masters into a course based program. My final CD-ROM project to complete my MA requirements is described in this 1999 Art Libraries Journal article, “Shape-shifting and other points of convergence: Inuit art and digital technologies“.

In a summer 1994 article entitled “Advancing Education through Communications Technology” in the Carleton University newspaper, The Charlatan, then-Director of Instructional Media Services, Ross Mutton estimated that the interest in using computers was growing rapidly. By the summer of 1994 there were already 30 professors at Carleton who were using computers regularly in their courses. For example, by 1993, Professor Peter Watson was using computers instead of the blackboard and overhead projectors to teach his astronomy classes. In his courses, he had begun to use multimedia technologies to incorporate notes he had entered into his computer with images and demonstrations including star clusters and simulations of how spacecraft moved. In 1992, with the addition of the Bell Canada-funded theatre in the Minto Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering, Carleton became one of the first universities in Canada to have multi media facilities. The first Bell theatre had “video and data projectors and a teaching console with everything built in, making it as advanced a classroom as you’ll find anywhere” according to Ross.

Excerpt from “Advancing Education through Communications Technology”. Carleton University Developments. The Charlatan. Summer 1994. Page 3.

“Though there is no hard and fast definition of what exactly multi media is, it generally involves the application of different media-video, sound, images, text, and so on-in a single package. Learning to use so many different things can be a big challenge.”

“That’s where the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre comes in. “We have two responsibilities,” says Carole Dence, the Centre’s director.

“One is to get on top of what’s out there and to make people on campus aware of what it can do. The other is to provide support to those who want to get material in shape for their classes.”

The Centre has computing hardware and software which can be used for multi media projects, adn also organizes workshops and presentations.

It’s also providing intensive support to Maureen Flynn-Burhoe, a Master’s student in the School of Canadian Studies, who is one of the first students at Carleton to use multi media for a graduate research project.

“When I first started to do research on Jessie Oonark, an [Inuit] artist who lived from 1906-1985, I found myself wanting to make cross references, to link different drawings together,” Maureen explains. “Rather than a verbal essay, a visual essay made more sense.”

Incorporating drawings, maps, photographs, video, sound and text, her project has taken her far beyond the realm of art history.

“When I needed maps, I worked with the geography department,” she says. “To create a glossary of Inuit terms, I collaborated with the linguistics department. When I needed technical assistance, I got it from the engineering faculty. It’s been wonderful.”

David Coll, an engineering professor who helped Maureen and who uses multi media to teach an introductory course in computer programming, maintains that multi media will, in essence, encourage students to be scholars.

“It provides access to much more information in many different forms,” he points out. “Students have to learn to get all the information there is.”

Multi media is also opening new opportunities for students in the School of Architecture. The school’s director, Ben Gianni, feels that architects have a role to play in this area “because information is being organized visually, rather than verbally.

“We have a sense of how things look, how they fit together. We work in a visual world, so multi media is an excellent opportunity for us to present and organize information in new ways (1994:3).”

References

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1994. “Shape-shifting and other points of convergence: Inuit art and digital technologies.” Volume 24Issue 3. 1999 , pp. 38-41. https://doi.org/10.1017/S030747220001962 Cambridge University Press. Published online June 6, 2016

“Advancing Education through Communications Technology”. Carleton University Developments. The Charlatan. Summer 1994. Page 3.

Notes

Professor Shepherd was Director of Carleton’s School for Studies in Art and Culture from 1991-1997 and also its founder. (He served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1999 to 2000.)

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