Database of Interface Design Styles for Multimedia Design Students

Liberal Arts
Seth Johnson

PROJECT DESCRIPTION (including purposed and objectives of project, program design, procedures and methods, timeline for completing the project, etc.)

As a new faculty member within the Department of Art and Design, I am responsible for several courses concerned with the design, implementation, and delivery of interactive web experiences as well as design history and associated movements. Currently, there does not exist a way to archive stylistic approaches to interface design on the web. Due to the limited lifespan of web sites, students do not have the opportunity to see a site's visual evolution. Because the World Wide Web is still considered to be in its infancy, stylistic approaches often change at a rapid pace. My proposal is to create an image database that archives screen shots of specific websites and categorizes the designs based on site type, stylistic trends, navigation style, color palette, image usage, typography treatments, etc. The database will allow searching (filtering) and sorting of records so that students can easily access different design styles based on specific search criteria. For example, a student could easily search for interface designs created specifically for personal promotion, designed in the modernist revival style, using contrasting typefaces with duotone images and an overall complementary color palette. I would even like to build in the ability to have students upload their own screenshots and search criteria as part of in-class assignments that were previously done on the message board utility within Pipeline.

With the grant, I need help creating a database to archive and categorize the images and scripting to populate the web template that I will create. Currently the Graphic Design area has an OSX server running Unix with PHP capabilities and more than ample storage space to house the image files. Hosting the database on the Graphic Design server would be ideal for easy access and maintenance, for which I will be responsible, but I understand that this may not be the easiest solution. Awarding this summer fellowship will give me the opportunity to work with an ITD professional who can appropriately guide me in the best direction for such a venture. I plan to have this project complete by the beginning of Fall class of 2005 to be used in both my Multimedia Authoring 2 class and my History of Graphic Design workshop.

IMPLICATION FOR INSTRUCTIONAL ENHANCEMENT (including method of project evaluation, expected results, etc.)

The creation of this project will improve the Multimedia Design, Multimedia Authoring 1 and 2, and Graphic Design History courses by creating a tool that will give students the opportunity to view and analyze past stylistic approaches to interface design, something that has never existed before. Currently, these courses consist of students from the Department of Art and Design and College of Media and Entertainments. This tool could eventually be available to other schools for educational use and could bring distinction to our university. For evaluation purposes, I would like to create a focus group of students and faculty members to test the usability and functionality of the educational tool.

Developmental Studies

Develop an online instructor's manual for faculty teaching University Seminar (UNIV 1010)

Developmental Studies
Marva Lucas


The purpose of this project was to develop an online instructor's manual for faculty teaching University Seminar (UNIV 1010). This course is designed to assist first-year students in developing tools necessary for an effective transition into the university community that will ultimately lead them to success. Unlike other university faculty, UNIV 1010 instructors are not all housed in a single department full time where they have opportunities for collaboration with peers that would facilitate the exchange of ideas that leads to more effective teaching. Also, due to the nature of this program, each fall several new instructors teach the course. Although many of the instructors are acquainted with the use of technology, many are not aware of how it can be utilized to help achieve instructional goals. Creating the online manual gives UNIV 1010 instructors immediate access to sample syllabi, sample lesson plans, topics for small group discussion, other web resources, and PowerPoint presentations that can be utilized in class.


Recommendations set forth by a University Retention Task Force in 1993 suggested that the University Seminar course be expanded to include most of the incoming students. This suggestion was based on information from Noel-Levitz that indicated "extended orientation courses improve retention, improve academic performance (including grade point average, communication skills, units completed, academic dismissals, study habits and attitudes, and relations with faculty) and increase knowledge of Student Services." The report also indicated that MTSU students who took the course were retained at rates higher than those that did not.

Based on this report, Fay Johnson in Academic Affairs was given the responsibility to grow the program. As a result the program has grown from the offering of 7 sections in fall 1992 to over 60 sections in Fall 2004. Because of a renewed focus on student transition and retention, and the increasingly significant role that this course can serve in regards to it, the responsibilities for the University Seminar 1010 program were transferred to the Academic Enrichment Department.

The catalog description of University Seminar 1010 (UNIV 1010) states that it is a course "designed to help freshman students develop tools needed for success. This seminar course helps new students appreciate the value of a higher education, learn about the numerous campus resources available to them, clarify their career goals, and gain academic skills required of the successful college student." Presently, it is an elective 3-hour course required only of undeclared students. There are several students who opt to take the course based on its merits. Class sizes are capped at 25 students and are taught by approximately 45 University administrators, faculty, and adjuncts from the community.

The purpose of this project was to develop an online instructor's manual for this course. Unlike other university faculty, UNIV 1010 instructors are not all housed in a single department full time where they have opportunities for collaboration with peers that would facilitate the exchange of ideas that leads to more effective teaching. Also, due to the nature of this program, each fall several new instructors teach the course. Although many of the instructors are acquainted with the use of technology, many are not aware of how it can be utilized to help achieve instructional goals.


Developmental Studies
Scott McDaniel

Engineering Technology and Industrial Studies

Basic and Applied Sciences
Narayanan Neithalath 


Video Tutorials for Media Design

Mass Communication
Randy Livingston


The objective of this project was to deliver Quicktime video tutorials that cover key topics in Media Design. Topics include graphics lab procedures and project-specific instruction in Macintosh OS X, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and QuarkXpress. The proposed Quicktime training modules were:

Using Suitcase to Manage Fonts

Scanning and Resolution (Photoshop)

Printing from QuarkXpress

How to Build an Illustration (Illustrator)

Flightchecking and Packaging a Job for Print (QuarkXpress).

Media Design students are visually oriented and learn by seeing and then doing. Indeed, most students learn more quickly and comprehensively by seeing a process demonstrated repetitively and then actively engaging in the process. The Quicktime format is a portable and flexible medium that allows the learner to set his or her own pace, i.e., pause, replay, and skip content. The project is delivered on universal DVD format. Students are given two DVD's as an accessible resource for help and instruction. These tutorials support and enhance the efforts of our lab assistants and reinforce Media Design instructors' lectures. The DVD's, indeed, deliver a much-needed knowledgebase that is available, timely, relevant, and specific.

Full-motion digital video and audio voice-over was captured by way of Ambrosia Software's Snapz Pro for Macintosh. Snapz Pro allowed me to record the action on screen. I was able to work on the computer while narrating the process. This offers a kind of computer software teaching that is unmatched by any other method. Snapz Pro offers several different algorithms for professional audio and video compression. The ubiquitous Quicktime format has been used to deliver crisp and clear cross-platform audio and video. I used iMovie and Final Cut Pro for video editing. From inception to delivery of the DVD's, this project required 8 weeks. A significant amount of that time was spent in experimenting with compression algorithms to determine the best file size and quality. There was also much work involved in research and acquiring hardware required for audio input (Mac-compatible professional microphones and pre-amplifiers).


These Quicktime video tutorials have delivered a learning resource that all instructors may utilize in the classroom and in the laboratory. The DVD's offer the student very specific instruction in a portable format. Quicktime video has proven to be a great way to deliver one-on-one teaching and assists instructors with topics that require repetition. In addition, this medium is accommodating the needs of a large group—interactive visual learners. The video tutorials accomplish much of what instructors are not able to accomplish through one-time lectures and demonstrations. A survey was used to gather qualitative and quantitative data and opinions. The success of this project has inspired me to expand learning topics and make more DVD's. Before continuing with production, I will be conducting additional usability studies and testing with students and lab assistants. 


Basic and Applied Sciences
Curtis Church


Basic and Applied Sciences
Ginger Holmes-Rowell


Basic and Applied Sciences
Ping Zhang


A WebCT Shell for the Astronomy Lab Classroom

Basic and Applied Sciences
Chuck Higgins

In an effort to enhance our current Astronomy 1031 lab course, I propose to develop web/computer component course materials via WebCT in the form of

    (I) online pre-class readings, and

    (II) interactive in-class computer tutorials and worksheets. The WebCT Shell developed through this grant will be shared with all faculty members who teach sections of the

Astronomy 1031 lab course. The instructional goal is to create a better environment for student learning by

(1) requiring that the students come to class better prepared, and

(2) to use technology to allow peer-based learning during the class time. Using WebCT to implement Online tutorials and quizzes, and by adding interactive computer worksheets, we hope to allow the students to learn more and have better retention of the material. These ideas come from an overarching goal to use technology to improve the quality of the general science courses, especially for non-science majors, and to encourage more students to pursue science and mathematics in their careers at MTSU.

Work Completed

Twelve pre-lab reading materials and lab quizzes were developed for the Astr 1031 lab class during Fall 2005. Three hours course release time was used for this activity.

All pre-lab reading material was put on the Astronomy Lab website for students to access at any time.

All lab quizzes were converted to Online quizzes using WebCT course products.


Out of ten sections of the Astr 1031 lab course, we tested the WebCT quizzes in two sections, the sections taught by Dr. Higgins and Dr. Paul Lee. Instructors in all other sections gave the quizzes on paper.

All five instructors teaching agreed that the pre-lab reading material and the quizzes were extremely helpful in getting the students prepared for class. <li>The class periods went more smoothly because of the better student preparation. This allows the student to better understand the concepts and learn more.

As expected, the peer teaching and learning is helpful for the students. <li>It also allowed more flexibility in the overall course grade for the students because the newly added quizzes counted approximately 10% of the grade.

Lessons Learned

WebCT is a very useful tool, but since I am not an expert, I still find it clumsy to use. For example, I could not figure out why two of my students could not get access to my WebCT quizzes. I specifically checked this and could not solve this problem. For them I had to give paper quizzes.

The students did not seem to be bothered by the requirement to read "extra" material to help them prepare for the lab.

Future Goals

We would like to add more interactive computer worksheets and activities to further enhance our laboratories.

For some of our labs, we would like to develop a complete computer-based lab where the students enter data, do calculations, make graphs, answer questions, and write results and conclusions all via the computer. <li>Beginning in Fall 2006 we hope that all instructors are using the WebCT material for the Astr 1031 lab course.

We were not able to administer the diagnostic test to assess student learning. We hope to complete this in subsequent semesters, but we will probably attempt this in the Astr 1030 lecture course rather than the laboratory course.