J. Construct. Steel Res. Vol. 46, Nos. l-3, pp. 278-279, papernumber 155, 1998 01998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved Printed in Great Britain 0143-974X/98 $19.00 + 0.00 PII: SO143-974X(98)00055-8 ELSEVIER
Wider Vocational Initiative for Structural Steelwork R. J. Plank School of Architecture, University
of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield SlO 2TN, UK Paper Number 155
Full paper on enclosed CD-ROM
This paper describes the transformation of a conventionally produced set of material - ESDEP - for teaching structural steelwork design to engineering students into a multi-media system accessible by a much wider range of users. The source c.omprised a comprehensive and authoritative set of lectures as text with accompanying diagrams, slides and videos. However, because of its scale, it has proved difficult to find specific information and is expensive to reproduce. This project has developed a means of translating the existing material efficiently into a computer-based system. This has involved the development of an authoring tool to facilitate capturing and amending existing text and illustrations. The text is imported directly in electronic format, and a range of word-processing features has been incorporated to enable necessary changes to the content, although the basic philosophy was to take fullest advantage of what was already available. Simple devices were also provided to allow the insertion and resizing of illustrations, including selected video clips, and the definition of hypertext links. It became apparent that a full screen of detailed text was not an ideal format for learning. The facility was therefore provided to summarise the full text as a series of concise teaching points. However the complete text can be revealed if a more detailed explanation is required. The material was originally developed for engineering, students, but it was recognised that much of it would be of value to other users such as architectural students and practising engineers requiring a technical update. A classification system was therefore devised and applied to the existing material to enable appropriate levels of detail to be displayed to different users. Full colour slides were scanned into the system and authors encouraged to use these liberally. Line diagrams were redrawn and saved as vectored graphic files to enable resizing on screen without distortion, and to minimise memory requirements. The originals were conventional black and white figures, but these presented a rather bland image on screen. These were therefore modified to include a shaded background and a shadow box to provide greater visual 278
Wider Vocational Initiative for Structural
appeal. This has also been helped by the introduction of a limited range of colours. In some cases authors have taken considerable advantage of the facilities offered by structuring a sequence of diagrams so that they are effectively created on the screen in a series of steps. The authoring was undertaken by subject matter experts directly on screen, and compiled within a.viewing system. The software used to access the processed material adopts a similar style to the authoring tool and provides a full set of navigation devices. These include linear progression, keyword or topic search, and hypertext links. The material processed to date is only a small proportion of the complete work, but considerable effort has been devoted to designing the software tools and developing the educational philosophy to be adopted. It is therefore anticipated that further sections can be completed much more quickly in subsequent phases. This pilot material has been produced as an English language version only, but facilities have been incorporated for substitution of other languages within the same system simply by switching between files, once the necessary translation has been done. The initial release will be on a CD but the facility also exists to offer a version on the Internet. The work has been undertaken by a partnership representing a number of European countries, and has been funded by the European Community. 0 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
KEYWORDS Steelwork, education, training, multi-media.