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Editorial Comment

Clare McBeath and Roger Atkinson
Proceedings Editors, IMMS Program Committee

Looking back at the 1994 Proceedings to check on our document settings, we noted that only one author, Geoff Rehn, mentioned the world wide web. What a contrast this is with the 1996 collection! Most papers in this volume contain reference to the web, the Internet and relationships with interactive multimedia. For many papers, the web is the central topic. At a very practical level, one of the unexpected new difficulties the editors faced was how to fit long URLs into 7.8 cm columns on printed pages.

There are 66 papers or abstracts in this volume, occupying about 21 MB of disk space under Word 6 for Windows. It is an intriguing thought that, at the current marginal costs, this is about A$21 worth of disk space, an observation which is a pointer to future trends in publishing via networked servers.

Virtually all of the papers were submitted as Microsoft Word documents, with Windows on 51%, just a nose ahead of Macintosh on 49%. The file translation difficulties encountered with the 1994 Proceedings had not disappeared entirely, but they have changed in nature. Some of the many emailed submissions encountered problems due to different default formats for attached files used by Eudora and Pegasus. A significant proportion of the graphics led to printing problems, though in nearly all cases, these were resolved by resorting to Encapsulated Post Script (EPS) for the final versions printed from Word 6 for Windows.

It is also intriguing to observe that the screen is typically more capable in achieving correct output of graphics in the multi platform world, compared with the printer, even an advanced printer like the Apple LaserWriter 16/600 PS used for this volume. Perhaps this is also a significant factor in the swing towards the web and other forms of screen based publication. These offer a high degree of multi platform standardisation of formats for graphics.

One of the last minute questions in preparing this volume for publication was whether our Symposium sponsors had web pages which we could cite. We were very pleased to find that, during a mere five minutes searching using Netscape, all turned up, and their URLs were duly copied and pasted into this file. The Superhighway in action!

Once again, this collection of papers represents a snap-shot of the state of the art in this rapidly growing field of research and design. Even before we go to print, things will have moved on, new discoveries made and new practices begun to supersede the old. However, it is important for those coming along behind - teachers, students and researchers - that the record be kept. In years to come, this will not just be a window on what was happening on 1995-6, but part of the record of the development of concepts and the groundwork for discussion of the issues. As has occurred with the previous two volumes of IMM symposium papers, libraries will continue to order the collection and students will continue to read and quote from it.

The Symposium theme was on education - the Learning Superhighway - the Internet as a learning tool. The planned subthemes, New World? New Worries? were not as obvious. Perhaps there is more in these papers about the new world, or the potential new world for learning, than there is inquiry about the new worries. This doubtlessly will be left to the researchers and the philosophers, and perhaps the theme of another Symposium, but is very important and must not be neglected for too many more years. Not only do educators need to know more about the efficiency and effectiveness of interactive multimedia as a means of learning, but much more needs to be known about its effect on students and on their learning styles. Attention need also to be given to ethical questions and the potential for long term changes to individuals and to society itself.

The greater number of the papers are case studies of developmental projects. In this sense they represent the pioneering fringe of discovery and practice. The field could not advance without experimentation and practice. But evaluation and research is lagging far behind. Few of these papers reflect on, or evaluate, the effect of the Internet on learning, which is not surprising given the very recent explosive growth of the medium. There is great scope for work to be done in schools, universities, colleges and training centres on the way the new approaches are affecting teaching and learning efficiency (or enjoyment), on comparative studies of student learning styles and many related topics. Those papers which do cover these important issues represent the beginnings of a new direction in educational research.

Citation of Proceedings papers

Reference to an IIMMS paper should cite the author or authors, the year 1996, title of the paper, the Editors and name of the Proceedings, page number range for the paper, place of publication and publisher, as in the following example (details of punctuation, etc, may vary with different publishers).
Bain, J. and McNaught, C. (1996). Academics educational conceptions and the design and impact of computer software in higher education. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds.), The learning superhighway: New world? New worries? Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium. (pp. 56-59). Perth, WA: Promaco Conventions.
As authors retain copyright in their own papers, they may make "reprints" available via their own or other worldwide web servers, or via an FTP server. In these cases, authors are asked to cite the Proceedings as the reference of first publication. Authors should provide the URL for their papers to the Symposium Committee, for possible inclusion in an index on the IIMMS 96 home web page at http://www.ece.curtin.edu.au/conference/IIMS96/

Authors: Dr Clare McBeath
Senior Lecturer in Curriculum Studies
Faculty of Education
Curtin University of Technology

Dr Roger Atkinson
Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology
Academic Services Unit
Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150, Australia.

Please cite as: C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (1996). Editorial Comment. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, v-vi. Perth, Western Australia, 21-25 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1996/editorial.html

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