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IMLE development processes by Matt Ottewill


An IMLE is an interactive learning environment. To date the best examples have been authored with Director or Authorware and published on CD-ROM (authoring with Flash makes the web an alternative delivery method).

The diagram at the foot of this page and following text outline the typical development cycle of an IMLE.


Identify aims and objectives of prototype
For example:

  • To teach the processes of orchestration.
  • To teach how to play rock electric guitar.
  • To teach how a mixing desk works.
  • To teach how to tie your shoe lace.
  • To do this by:

For example:

  • Motivate learning with a compelling interface.
  • Provide authoritative knowledge concisely delivered.
  • Employ analogy and metaphor in the delivery of that knowledge.
  • Allow a learner to access knowledge relevant to their needs and abilities.
  • Enable a learner to practice the application of that knowledge.
  • Help a learner to develop problem solving skills.
  • Allow a learner to perform self-evaluation.
  • Provide tools which allow a learner to organise and construct knowledge and structure learning.
  • Provide access to alternative knowledge resources.

Determine instructional goals
An IMLE will seek to provide an instructional environment in which the learner can acquire knowledge and skills:

Exactly what these will be will be determined by:

  • Research of authoritative texts and prevailing thinking in the field to be taught
  • Questionnaire
  • Discussion with colleagues, students, potential end-users, educationalists etc

Determine end-user profile
We will need to identify the profile of our end user(s).

For example:

  • Educators As a teaching resource
  • Students As a learning resource
  • Age group
  • Previous experience
  • Single user’s Students without access to conventional classroom environments.
  • Multiple user’s In conventional educational environments.
  • Beginners to experts Multimedia as an ideal multi-leveled learning environment able to accommodate the needs of both the novice, intermediate and expert user.

Detail resources
We will need to list all the resources required to build our prototype.

Authoritative knowledge resources
For example:

  • Reference books
  • Magazine articles
  • Internet resources
  • Expert opinion on educational approach
  • Expert opinion on subject to be taught
  • Expert opinion on IMLE development
  • Expert opinion on chosen computer platforms
  • Expert opinion on computer programming
  • Expert opinion graphical design/art/content creation
  • Expert opinion Director programming
  • Expert opinion - video filming/editing
  • Expert opinion - 3D animation

For example:

  • Modem, internet link
  • Apple Mac PowerPC computer
  • CD-ROM drive
  • AV hard disk
  • CD-R recorder
  • Audio interface
  • MIDI interface
  • Sound recording equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Video camera/editing
  • Scanner
  • Graphics accelerator card
  • Video capture card
  • Stills camera

For example:

  • System software (QuickTime)
  • Enabler software (screen grabbers, format converters)
  • Graphic design
  • Photo manipulation
  • Illustration
  • 3D image creation
  • Animation
  • Video editing
  • MIDI sequencing
  • Sound recording and editing
  • Multimedia authoring
  • CD-R creation
  • Internet browser
  • Web site design

Conceptual design

Determine cognitive model
To be discussed by participant educators.

Determine instructional strategies
For example:

  • Use compelling presentations to motivate and communicate knowledge and skills.
  • Employ analogy and metaphor in the presentation of knowledge
  • Depict real world applications.
  • Allow the learner to control rate of learning.
  • Allow the learner to choose an appropriate instructional level.
  • Allow the learner to customise the learning and evaluation environments.
  • Present virtual environments in which the learner can practice skills.
  • Allow the learner to evaluate learning progress by attempting "Activities".
  • Use "exploration" and "discovery" environments to teach problem solving and transferable skills.
  • Provide tools that facilitate a learners search for knowledge such as additional shareware and demo applications, and bookmarks of relevant on-line resources.

Specify knowledge to be taught
To be determined by educators.

Research examples
Current IMLE's should be analysed for design and approach.

Interface design

Determine functional requirements
Considerations include:

  • Frequency of use Style of presentation may be dictated by usage patterns. For example, a presentation intended to be viewed once may employ an intensity of communication, repetition, and contain insistent dramatic content elements, such as sound effects, that will become tiresome in a title intended for instructional and reference purposes.

  • Keeping attention

  • Customisation We need to consider the benefits of tailoring instructional content towards a user's needs based on information input by the user. Designing interactive dialogues will exploit the true interactive and constructionist potential of our prototype.

  • Recording usage A user or educator may benefit from a record of responses to instructional drill and assessment activities.

Design interface
To be determined under the guidance of Hannah Gal.

Considerations include:

  • Unity and coherence Navigational and stylistic patterns will be expected by a user who understands the context they are in ie turning the pages of an electronic book. The design of the interface must be informed by considerations of clarity. Each design and style component must have a clear role within the context. There must be consistency in the design of navigation and menu elements and in the layout of the screens, balance in the organisation of components within individual screens, and a clear pattern of flow between screens.

  • Interface metaphor Although coherence is a primary consideration it was also important to design a progressive looking interface that conveyed a sense of both authority and creativity. These factors inform the choice of type style, colour scheme and presentational approach.

  • Graphical metaphors It is common for multimedia designers to employ real-world metaphors in the form of icons.

Create the navigation map
To be determined by collaboration between interface designers/authors/educators.

Create storyboards
To be determined by collaboration between interface designers/authors/educators.

Write scripts
To be determined by educators.

Obtain AV media content
This will involve purchasing preexisting media relevant to your production such as ...

  • Historical video of an authoritative scholar or exponent
  • Video of a foreign location
  • Video interviews
  • Music

Create AV media content
Considerations include:

  • Creating graphic images for icons, animations and diagrams.
  • Photographic. Photographing, scanning and processing images for use in animations and diagrams.
  • Video. Editing and preparation. QuickTime. Compression. etc
  • Sound designing and recording for voice narration and sound effects (button clicks etc).
  • File formats. Accommodating and converting the differing file formats of content creation applications before importing into my authoring application was a major headache.
  • Compressing AV content. Managing the size of sound, graphic, photographic and video files was crucial in maximising storage space and ensuring glitch free playback of content.

Author prototype
Considerations include:

  • Creating a navigational prototype structure.
  • Importing the content.
  • Authoring the presentational screens and their animations.
  • Scripting interactivity.
  • Refining and alpha testing.

testing & evaluation


  • Alpha testing

    to be carried out constantly through the authoring process.

  • Beta testing involves potential real users to use the prototype on a variety of systems and then complete a questionnaire. The problems encountered and suggestions made will inform a further process of refinement.

To be completed by interface designers.

Delivery system

Understanding the requirements of the end user involves identifying appropriate delivery systems.

For educational institutions, where software and system maintenance is available, our prototype may be sited on a powerful server by a trained technician. The performance of such a delivery system will impose restrictions on the design and construction processes when decisions concerning playback speed and factors such as sound and colour bit-depth must be made.

For single users a fully documented CD-ROM package including an installation guide and specifying minimum system requirements is required.

Determine delivery methodology

For example:

  • Fully documented CD-ROM containing application, A READ.ME guide to installation and late breaking news. System resources. Internet browser bookmarks providing links to related web sites.

  • Installation on a server

Additional resources could be available from an accompanying internet site which might contain user feedback facilities, relevant links, and perhaps an online version with reduced functionality and interactivity.

Define minimum system requirements

Create packaging
To be determined under the guidance of Hannah Gal.

Create installation documentation
To be determined by interface designers.

Create user’s guide
To be determined by educators and interface designers.