Development of an Authorware-based Multimedia Application for Floriculture Education: The Geophyte Module

Kelly Petoskey, William B. Miller, David Price and Reg Baumgardner
Department of Horticulture, Clemson University

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The goal of this project was development of an interactive, computer-based multimedia tutorial for floriculture education. Multimedia refers to the use of multiple media (for example, sound, video, text, graphics, and animation) in the dissemination of information. Despite the fact that many users are unaware of the terminology, multimedia pervades modern society in various forms - airport kiosks, computer games, business presentations, even classroom lectures. Interactive multimedia takes the multimedia concept a step further and allows the presentation to be tailored according to the user's own interests and experience. Good examples of interactive multimedia are computer games and educational software.

The advantage of using interactive multimedia in education is that multimedia presentation speaks the language of today's students. "Generation X" was the first generation to be raised on MTV, Nintendo, and the increasingly more sophisticated electronics of the computer information age. For better or worse, frequent exposure to fast-paced electronic media has acclimated these "Generation Xers" to a presentation style that is speedy and complex. For brains accustomed to this type of stimulation, traditional lecture-style teaching methods are out-dated. Multimedia provides educators with powerful tools that help to excite students and to maintain their interest.

The Geophyte Module

The Geophyte Module is designed as a complement to Dr. Bill Miller's Greenhouse Crop Physiology Course, HORT 310. The objectives of that course are " introduce the physiology and greenhouse production of floriculture crops as well as to give hands-on experience in production technology, scheduling, economics, and regulation of crop growth and development." The module provides students with a series of tutorial exercises pertaining to geophytes (bulb crops). These exercises reinforce the material discussed in Dr. Miller's class lectures and labs.

The Geophyte Module consists of four submodules: Production Statistics, Geophyte Physiology, Geophyte Floriculture, and References. The first three submodules are based on material presented in Dr. Miller's lectures, and the fourth module directs students to additional information resources. To date, the primary focus has been the content and interactivity of the geophyte physiology submodule; however, the interface, basic navigation scheme, and framework for each submodule is in place and ready for content development. The program has been designed using "Authorware" software, and currently runs in the Macintosh environment.

The Geophyte Physiology Submodule

The Geophyte Physiology Submodule seeks to reinforce student's understanding of plant form and function. It includes definitions and discussions of geophytes, underground storage organs, plant life cycles, survival mechanisms, and dormancy. An explanation of the differences between various types of geophytes includes visual comparisons of storage organ types. The comparison is set up as a diagram that allows students to point with the mouse on the diagram to access a balloon of information about the organ.

Separate sections focusing on the parts of each storage organ are designed using diagrams with clickable arrows that provide the name of the part and a brief explanation of it.

"Test Yourself" buttons appear at regular intervals throughout the presentation that urge students to practice what they have learned from the preceding pages. Some tests consist of open-ended questions that give students feedback including hints and the correct answer if they cannot get it. Click-and-drag matching exercises require students to match labels with storage organs. Other matching exercises describe organ parts and ask students to click on the part that matches the description.

Other Submodules

The Production Statistics submodule is devoted to worldwide production of geophytes. Demographic data, the differences between forcing and dry bulbs, and the difference between spring and summer flowering bulbs are discussed.

The Geophyte Floriculture submodule provides detailed information about growing specific crops. An index allows users to choose the crops in which they are interested. This section will be useful not only to students but also to floriculture industry personnel.

The References submodule is designed to provide students with additional information sources, and it has a scrolling-text window to allow for added references. In the future, more content and opportunities for interactivity will be added to each of these modules.

Other Goals for the Future

There are several goals for the future of this module. First, the content of each submodule will be extended, and interactivity will be added and modified. Second, the use of sound and video media for reinforcing information will be maximized. To date we have been limited by a lack of sound and video media; however, we now have the capability for creating our own digitized video, such as time lapse video of plants growing, flowers opening, seeds germinating, and flowers senescing.

For the three interactive submodules - production stats, geophyte physiology, and geophyte floriculture, tracking of test results may be incorporated. Print buttons could be added to the reference screens and to the storage organ diagram screens. Sound and text feedback should be modified, and the module may be developed as a multi-platform application.

We are grateful to the Clemson University Advanced Technology Center Instructional Development Awards Program and the Clemson University Ornamentals Enhancement Program for partial funding of this project.

Last Updated 2/1/97