Sims296a3: Multimedia Evaluation
Vibrating Beam Experimental Web Site
Anoop Sinha

I looked at the Vibrating Beam Experiement Web Site and evaluated it under the set of Multimedia Evaluation Categories proposed in Sims296a3: Impact of New Information Resources.  The site was designed to assist students in the ME101 class in understanding a laboratory set-up and help them in preparation for performing a laboratory exercise with that set-up. 

As a whole, I  was quite impressed with the design and content of the sie.  Though it is unclear whether the web presentation is a substitute for an actual experiment, it is easy to see that the web presentation will assist the class members in understanding the material for the lab assignment.  The web site works well as a replacement for the chapter for a book and also is much better than a laboratory assignment handout. 

Below I  present my specific comments about elements in the multimedia evaluation outline.  I have given each category two scores: one is the overall impression about how well the site addressed the concerns in that category; the other is importance of the category in relation to the other categories. 

Multimedia Evaluation Outline: 
  • Content: 
  • Score:   Overall:  9/10    Importance:  10/10

  • I  give this site high marks for content.  The site seems very well planned and information is carefully selected.  The content is arguably the most important aspect of this site, since it is meant for instruction.  Since the entire site seems very carefully planned, one would guess that the details in the site are quite accurate.  At the minimum, they seem quite coherent and sequenced carefully, so that the user has the option of exploring the assignment, theory, and background in whatever method suits her or him best.  The site would even please users not interested in the specific content or equations that are presented in the site. 

  • Design:
  • Score:   Overall:  9/10    Importance:   10/10

  • As with content, the overall design of the site is essential to its ultimate usefulness to the target audience.  Some of the subcategories of navigation are futher evaluated below, but some overall considerations give us an idea of why this site was successful in its design.  At the start, the site was not overload with graphics; it was quick and easy to load, something that is not necessarily true in other web sites, instructional or not.  I sincerely believe that the authors of the site carefully considered the objectives and needs of the class students who would be trying to get information from the site.  Both its underlying structure and graphic layout seemed very carefully planned. 
  • Longevity/Useability
  • Score:   Overall:  6/10    Importance:  7/10

  • This site does not seem readily extendable to other chapters or even other lab exercises.  If the site was more based on a single framework, then perhaps it would be possible to update it more easily.  Some of the principles could certainly be used in a future lab exercise.  And perhaps customization is necessary to provide the most effective presentation of a certain lab exercise.  As a whole, I  would have liked to see a few of these lab exercises developed under the same framework to have confidence that the site would be have longevity.

  • Objectives of the Multimedia Package
  • Score:   Overall:   8/10    Importance:  7/10

  • The site does appear to add value to the task at hand.  It was definitely targetted to the members of that one specific class, and that was clearly presented at the beginning of the site.  To make the site more accessible to other browsing users, it might be appropriate to provide a different carefully planned guided tour. 

  • Considering the Audience
  • Score:   Overall:  8/10    Importance:   9/10

  • The site is fortunate in that the audience is properly limited to members in the ME101 class and perhaps to others who are evaluating the site.  As such, it appears to try to match the learning styles of the users in those classes, using the "Theory", "Experiment" , "Assignment"  divisions, rather than some other sort of pedagogical style.  Of course, it is unlikely that the students of the class will get the full effect of the experiment without using the physical instruments.  Perhaps a Virtual Reality display could be useful in the case of physical instruments.