Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab
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Viz Lab Summer Grant 2007

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Making Tutorials for CS Classes with Adobe Captivate (an e-learning authoring tool)

James Allert Department of Computer Science

Project overview:

This project developed a unique online student learning resource that allowed CS-1121 (Visual Basic) and CS-1511 (Computer Science I) students to see how projects are created, as well as how programs are debugged by accessing flash animations. The project created the flash animation library. The library can be found at http://www.d.umn.edu/~cshelper

Use of the Viz Lab and its resources, Summer 2007

The grant allowed me to employ an undergraduate computer science student, Scot Halvorson, to create the flash animation library using Adobe Captivate 2.0 software. Scot put in up to four hours/day through most of the summer working on the project.

Outcome

The Viz Lab seems to be an excellent facility for the production of multimedia programs, and worked well for the production of these Flash animations. They proved to be very popular with students in both classes, especially early in the semester when they received thousands of hits each week.

Twenty three screen-capture animations were constructed for Visual Basic (CS-1121) and 33 for Computer Science I. Most are several minutes in length.

The website itself is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Main page

Main page

The categories of animations are shown on the left side of the screen and are expandable to reveal the subcategory lists of individual animations, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Animation subcategories

Animation subcategories

The website programming was done in Javascript.

Each animation displays in the window to the right of the animation list, as shown in Figure 3. The animations included mouse movements, menu clicks, button clicks and were explained by accompanying text.

Figure 3 Animation display in main window

Animation display in main window

As a result of this Viz Lab project an extensive amount reference material and practical demonstrations now exists on the cshelper web page for CS-1511 and CS-1121 students. Students demonstrated the utility of this by accessing it often, especially in the first stages of their course when visual examples were most helpful.

I believe that this software (Adobe Captivate) is a wonderful tool that can greatly aid instructional endeavors whether it is in a course context or as general instruction provided by ITSS. This project was very successful and introduces a set of new possibilities for both students and faculty.