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Northwestern University > New Media Center > Proposal

Northwestern University New Media Center Proposal

Northwestern University (NU) is an accredited, degree-granting institution located in Evanston, Illinois, north of Chicago. NU is a major private research university with more than 17,000 students enrolled in 12 academic divisions on two lakefront campuses. It has approximately 5,650 employees and an annual budget of almost $720 million. The academic divisions on the Evanston campus, which enroll approximately 11,600 full-time students, are the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Speech, Medill School of Journalism, School of Music, Graduate School, and J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Academic divisions such as the schools of Speech, Journalism, Music and University College (continuing education) have specific and increasing needs for multimedia development facilities and training to integrate new technology into the curriculum. Although infrastructure and facilities for teaching and training exist, students and faculty are often forced to compete for the same limited resources in order to develop their projects. The New Media Center at Northwestern will be a joint effort between the University Library and Academic Technologies to address this issue of resources and support. At the heart of Northwestern's intellectual community is the University Library (NUL), which operates on an annual budget of nearly $12.5 million. Academic libraries are moving towards information technology to access collections, and Northwestern fully intends to participate in this revolution. The Library has begun to investigate and experiment with the possibilities of prolonging the life of collections using digital imaging technology. The University Library staff is an eclectic combination of librarians, technologists, educators and information and multimedia specialists working with the Northwestern community to find and access networked resources.

Academic Technologies (AT) is the faculty support wing of Northwestern's Information Technology division which works with Northwestern faculty to identify and exploit the advantages that information technology brings to their teaching and to their scholarship. AT places particular emphasis on technologies that put new tools in the hands of teachers and students in NU courses, extend the reach of our campuses, and distinguish this university as second-to-none in its support of research.

The organization consists of 25 senior technology staff, some of Northwestern's most talented students, and an annual operating budget of over a million dollars. AT staff is organized into three groups of primary faculty support,Learning Technologies Support, Research Computing Support, and Classroom Technologies Support but all work collaboratively across these groups. A fourth group, Emerging Technologies, plays a fundamental role in planning for the university's next steps in network and computing technologies, and has proved to be an attractive testbed for external funding, new partnerships with technology companies, and as an innovator in digital media development.

In addition to the University Library and Academic Technologies, the following rich and diverse multimedia, teaching and training resources in the Northwestern community will be utilized to support New Media Center (NMC) projects.

The Learning Through Collaborative Visualization Project (CoVis) is comprised of thousands of K-12 students, over one hundred teachers, and dozens of researchers from across the U.S., working together using the internet and video conferencing technology to find new ways of thinking about and practicing science in the classroom. The CoVis Project is part of the Learning Sciences Program at the School of Education & Social Policy. CoVis is a member of the BBN National School Network Testbed. Established in 1989 with the founding sponsorship of Andersen Consulting, the Institute for the Learning Sciences (ILS) is an interdisciplinary research and development center dedicated to developing and transferring innovative educational technology from the laboratory to practical applications in business, schools, government agencies, and the community.

The primary purpose of the College of Arts and Sciences's Multi-Media Learning Center (MMLC) is to provide instructional support services to the foreign language departments. The MMLC library houses a large collection of pedagogical material, ranging from audiotapes to interactive laserdiscs and CD-ROMs. Specialized staff assist faculty in creating their own course material or on-line publications using the resources of the Culpeper Development Studio. The MMLC teaching facilities include a new multimedia classroom and computer lab as well as satellite resources used for language support and teleconferences.

Academic Technologies and the University Library have taken the lead in integrating a wide variety of resources, and planning for information infrastructure development. Northwestern's strengths in training, media access and integration, network distribution and development expertise are demonstrated in the following examples.

Training in Media Technologies

Membership in the NMC will allow Northwestern to share our expertise in teaching media technologies. Academic Technologies and the University Library have individual and collaborative training programs for the NU community. Training and teaching activities exist for students, faculty and staff at all levels. In recent years, efforts have expanded these internal teaching and training activities beyond Northwestern.

Training educators to use and benefit from integrating media into their teaching curriculum is the focus of the renowned Technology in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) program. Instituted in 1992, TiLT is an intensive three and one-half day, hands-on, project-oriented workshop for faculty and supporters of instructional technology at NU and other universities, colleges, continuing education programs, K12 schools and commercial businesses. Participants from across the U.S. and around the world collaborate with experienced multimedia designers to incorporate interactive media and internet resources into higher-education curriculum and training programs.

The Faculty Integrating Technology (FIT) program, modeled as an extension to TiLT, is a comprehensive six month collaborative endeavor between NU faculty, AT, the University Library, and the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence. Faculty focus projects on a course they will be teaching in a subsequent quarter and develop an integrated suite of learning technologies for it. Faculty and FIT staff participate in weekly hands-on workshops, brown-bag discussions, supported project development time, and discussions of pedagogical models.

The Learning Technologies Group (LTG) Weekly Workshops, offered twice a week throughout the year, focus on media technologies and design elements. These two hour hands-on workshops are open to NU faculty, staff, and teaching assistants. Topics include World Wide Web development, image acquisition and processing, digital video and sound, computer animation, multimedia courseware, electronic conferencing, and presentation tools.

Media Access and Integration

The NMC's location within the library will lend itself to close collaboration between multimedia experts and librarians with experience in SGML, relational, and MARC classification technologies. Observance of standards in the description and cataloging of media holdings is crucial to expanding access to these unique collections beyond Northwestern. Using standardized attribute sets and controlled vocabularies for media types and descriptions facilitates the integration of multiple media types as well as scaling and sharing with other institutions.

As a member of the NMC, Northwestern will expand upon existing work in the area of cataloging, accessing and integrating media. Examples of media access and integration projects are mentioned below.

A collaborative effort between the University Library and Academic Technologies helped create a World Wide Web version of the Digital Image Access Project (DIAP). Twelve hundred (1200) photographs chronicling the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Commune of Paris in 1871 were digitized. Bibliographic information was created and made retrievable using a search engine on the Library's World Wide Web (WWW) server. DIAP was sponsored by the Research Libraries Group (RLG). Along with Northwestern, seven other university research libraries participated in this project.

A collection of roughly 250 World War II posters will be digitized both to preserve and improve access to the materials. Digitizing the posters and making them available on the World Wide Web and as a commercial CDROM product to other schools and universities will greatly enhance access to this unique collection. The posters will also be preserved by reducing the need to handle the originals. In the process of digitizing, a photographic intermediary will be created which will serve as a preservation master, ensuring that a stable back-up exists for both the originals and the digital images. Bibliographic and background information will be provided by scholars and librarians.

The Digital Archives for American Cultures is a growing digital image collection of 19th century art and photographs used by English professor Carl Smith in his American Culture course. Students will access the collection using the WWW/Oracle-based Image Annotation Service to create their own personal collections of annotated images. Students create and edit these collections and annotations in private online notebooks using WWW browsers. The notebooks, annotations, and image catalog are all managed in an Oracle database. (username and password- nmc)

The Northwestern Shakespeare Project - Parallel Texts and Digital Images seeks to create an environment in which some philological facts and tools, typically restricted to scholars, are made accessible over the network in a form which renders them usable by readers of various degrees of sophistication. Linkages between electronic texts and digital image representations will allow the reader to easily switch from any section of the modern text to the transcription of the quarto or folio text in which it appears, to digital images of the pages of the quartos and folios on which the editor's labor is based.

Shakespeare Oracle is an Oracle database of the Shakespeare corpus designed for textual analysis. It is a concordance tool which produces word lists and frequency information as users define and contrast sub-corpora. It answers questions such as, "What words occur in Hamlet and Macbeth but don't appear in the other plays?" or, "What words occur in the comedies between 1595 and 1600, but appear only 3 times or less thereafter?" The word lists it produces include links to the words' locations in the corpus and the full electronic text. It is in use in two Shakespeare courses at NU.

The Electronic Text Project allows users to search and analyze a number of full-text literary and philosophical works, including the Oxford English Dictionary and the Riverside edition of Shakespeare's complete works. Text analysis is done using various clients, including the World Wide Web. Electronic Text projects involve integration of media and text, allowing scholars to analyze and search the SGML encoded text and in some cases view the original manuscripts as digital images. Collaborative efforts are currently underway within the Committee on Institutional Cooperation to coordinate collection and SGML tagging of electronic texts.

Political science professor Jerry Goldman, working with Academic Technologies and the University Library, is bringing the Oral Arguments of the U.S. Supreme Court to the World Wide Web. This project will eventually offer 400 to 500 hours of audio materials digitized from the National Archives in RealAudio format from the Supreme Court. The arguments focus on the nation's most important constitutional debates over the last 40 years. This is the first RealAudio server site at Northwestern. The recorded oral arguments allow students and scholars to analyze the rhetorical methods of constitutional law, including non-textual elements which are not captured in transcripts. The initial release contains arguments and case summaries for several important decisions, including Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Plans are underway to make this site searchable.

The Electronic Reserve System (ERS) distributes course and lecture materials in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to members of the Northwestern community over the campus network. Faculty work with library staff to create electronic documents incorporating text, graphics and other media formats. Northwestern has pioneered efforts in this area and is considered one of the leaders in Electronic Reserve.

The cornerstone of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) project is the implementation of linked-system technologies connecting the online library catalogs of the CIC universities (Big Ten and University of Chicago). One of the objectives of the VEL project is to implement Z39.50 at all CIC libraries providing seamless connections between all the online catalogs, with full searching capabilities. Another benefit of the collaboration of interest to Northwestern is the development of centrally mounted indices and full-text/image databases which can be integrated to deliver information quickly and directly to the end-user.

Distribution - A Ubiquitous Network Infrastructure for Media

The projects developed at the Northwestern University New Media Center will be put to use in one of the nation's highest-performance educational networks. This will allow the New Media Center's work to reach a large audience throughout the Chicago metropolitan region, and to be delivered in a way that foreshadows the types of media systems which will become the standard for learning communities in the year 2000 and beyond. NUNet, the campus data network, connects all 150 academic and administrative buildings, as well as the 34 student residences on the Evanston and Chicago campuses, to a high-speed fiber-optic backbone. FDDI services connect hub buildings and are provided where a higher-speed network connection is required. Ethernet is the standard desktop connection to NUNet and TCP/IP is the standard network protocol. NUNet provides the Northwestern community with a high-speed connection to national and regional networks. Off-campus access to NUNet is available via modem through commercial telephone or ISDN services. Today, there are over 20,000 electronic mail accounts at Northwestern and 410 local area networks connecting about 7,000 computers to NUNet.

Academic Technologies is conducting pilot Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) projects during 1996 for high-performance multimedia networking at Northwestern. NU currently has over $600,000 in ATM switching and server equipment in place in its testbed. By the third quarter of 1996 faculty multimedia projects (for teaching and research) will begin running over the ATM testbed. It is expected that the success of the pilot projects will result in the upgrade of the campus backbone to an ATM switch before the end of 1997.

In addition to the development of a high-performance multimedia-capable network for Northwestern's own campuses, these same capabilities are being jointly developed with other educational institutions in the region. NU has formed a consortiumthe Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) with the University of Chicago, Argonne National Lab, and the University of Illinois at Chicago to develop a regional network with DS3 or OC3 ATM technologies in 1996 and 1997. Funding has been granted by the Illinois Higher Education Board to pilot new video conferencing and ATM technologies during 1996.

A new Video Distribution System being installed by the University Library provides faculty and students with sophisticated ways to schedule, receive and control audio-visual information, including satellite downlinks, over the campus network. This system includes upgrades to the campus coaxial cable network and new head-end installation in the University Library Multimedia Center. This system is new and part of a partnership between Northwestern University and Rauland-Borg Corporation, which is using Northwestern as a testbed for its media distribution system.

Media Development Expertise

The experienced staff members of Northwestern's University Library and Academic Technologies unit look forward to contributing their talents to this effort.

Stu Baker Multimedia Services Specialist (NUL)
Rich Barone Instructional designer (AT)
Bridget Canavan Head, User Support Services (NUL)
Jim ChenATM network technologies (AT)
M. Claire Dougherty Reserve/Multimedia Services Librarian (NUL)
(Director of the NUNMC)
Richard Frieder Head, Preservation Department (NUL)
Jeff Garrett Humanities Bibliographer (NUL)
Sue Gautsch Training designer and coordinator (AT)
Joe Germuska Web technologies (AT)
Paul Hertz Media designer (AT)
Steve Marek Head, Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center (NUL)
Larsana Nelson Senior Monographic Cataloger (NUL)
Brian Nielsen Networked Resources Coordinator (AT)
Bill Parod Advanced Web/Oracle technologies for media databases (AT)
Sally Roberts Curriculum Integration Librarian (NUL)
Harry Samuels Head, Library Management Systems (NUL)
Bob Taylor Director, NU Academic Technologies (AT)

Plan for the Northwestern University New Media Center

NU's New Media Center will be located in the University Library's Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center (MIMMC). This center of multimedia technology at Northwestern University supports the curriculum of most schools and departments on the Chicago and Evanston campuses. The Multimedia Center houses a collection of over 7,000 videotapes, laserdiscs and audio recordings.

During the summer of 1995, the Interactive Laserdisc Lab was converted to a Multimedia Development Lab (MDL). The MDL provides a facility for faculty, staff, and student development of multimedia projects, applications and World Wide Web projects. In addition to hardware, software and staff support, the MDL will provide multimedia reference materials and self-paced learning tools. Users of the MDL have the Multimedia Center's collection available to them for digitizing. Priority use of the lab is given to faculty and students involved in multimedia classes.

As part of this development, a professional staff position and student support positions were added. Two existing Multimedia Center staff provide additional support and training in the MDL.

The MDL completed its first period of operation during the Fall, 1995 academic quarter. Faculty and staff accounted for 37% of the use of the lab while 63% were students. Overall usage of the MDL is expected to increase significantly over the coming year.

During the first quarter of MDL use, students and staff worked on various projects using digital media, computer animation, multimedia courseware and World Wide Web technologies. Some projects of note include:

  • Dante's Inferno: a MacroMedia Director-based multimedia group project authored by faculty and students.
  • QuickTime VR: The MDL is currently the only place on campus with equipment and software for QuickTime Virtual Reality development.
  • Library and NU Staff Web Development: significant training and teaching activity in all areas of World Wide Web creation.
The future of the MDL includes integrating some of the existing training and teaching programs (e.g., TiLT, FIT) to allow greater flexibility among Academic Technologies, University Library and other campus technology facilities. Combining the MDL resources with the other campus classrooms and teaching facilities will provide faculty and students a variety of places to learn, develop and teach.

Participation in NMC programs

Northwestern plans on full participation in the NMC consortium. Staff members from the represented divisions will attend conferences. NU will collaborate on projects, share ideas, and exchange information with other consortium members.

Northwestern will be active in helping to develop and/or host NMC sponsored programs. The Director of the NMC at NU will be active in coordinating NMC efforts within and beyond the Northwestern community.

Budget The 1996 operating budget for the MIMMC is $268,000. This includes allocations for staff salaries and benefits, equipment, materials, repairs, supplies, and student wages.

The budget for initial implementation of the MDL and expansion of the Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center is shown below. A majority of these monies have been committed, though funds remain for additional hardware and software to be purchased. This money was generated through private donor, University and Library contributions.

  • Hardware/software and network improvements ($285,500)
  • Physical Improvements ($136,000)
Hardware and Software
    48 Port Hewlett-Packard Ethernet hub. A new subnet was added to isolate network activity in the Multimedia Center. Category 5 wiring was installed throughout the facility.
    Hewlett-Packard Netserver P5/66LF Pentium Server- running Novell 4.1
    Hewlett-Packard Series 9000 E-55 UNIX server


    7 Macintosh 8500/120 Power Macintosh with 1G hard drive and 32Mb RAM.
    1 Macintosh 9500/120 Power Macintosh with 1G hard drive and 48Mb RAM
    1 IBM Ultimedia 486/DX2D with 12Mb RAM and 850Mg hard drive
    1 Polaroid Slide Scanner
    1 Iomega Zip Drive (100MG)
    2 Syquest Drives (135 MG, 44/88 MG)
    1 Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 3c color flatbed scanner
    1 Epson 1200C color flatbed scanner

    Adobe Photoshop 3.05
    Adobe Acrobat Exchange 2.1
    Adobe Illustrator 5.5
    Adobe Acrobat Distiller 2.1
    Adobe Premiere 4.2
    Adobe Acrobat Reader 2.1
    MacroMedia Director 4.04
    MacroMedia SoundEdit 16
    Adobe Pagemaker 6.0
    Adobe PageMill 1.0
    Oracle Media Objects 1.0
    Code Warrior
    Adobe Streamline 3.1
    Adobe Persuasion 3.0
    Debabelizer and Debalizer Lite
    StuffIt Deluxe
    MacroModel 1.5.3 with Renderman

Physical Improvements A new staff office and conference area for staff and project consultation was added in the MDL. A full suite of workstation furniture for the lab was also purchased.

The Multimedia Center expansion included complete renovation of an existing auditorium (seating 80) and a conference room (seating 15) into fully functional electronic classrooms. These classrooms fully support teaching and training efforts in the University Library and for the NU community.