A Multimedia-didactical improvement/suggestion.

Tesi Sirovich - 160295 (bacco@di.unito.it)
Wed, 7 Jun 95 11:43:54 EDT

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Hello to everybody.
We are newcomers in this mailing list.

Here at Turin University-Italy, we are working on an Italian Multimedial Didactical Project called ADDIZIONARIO. The project is funded by CNR (the public Italian National Research Center), Pisa and Turin Univesities, some other public associations. Project dirctor: Dr. Giovanna Turrini, ILC-CNR, PISA (ITALY).
Shortly, it's a children-with-communication-and-learning-problems dictionary, developed in Asymetrix Toolbook in pre-release version.
We're studying how to put on the web an HTML version of this dictionary, developed in Asymetrix Toolbook, and we're facing various problems in the migration of multimedial books from Toolbook, a real-time object oriented enviroment, to the Web, a rather-static hypertext enviroment.

Our experience suggests us to propose some new features in HTML language and consequently Web Browsers.

Before writing an internet-draft on the argument, we think it could be a good idea to discuss the problem with the HTML-WG:
We are beginners in the Web development arena, so we'd like to know if our proposal is first of all a good discussion matter.

Type links in the development of hypertext multimedial applications it's often useful to give further informations or comments before a user decides to select/follow the link.
We can see such a type browsing an html document in the "status line" of many graphical browsers (Netscape, etc.), usually in the bottom of the window running the user-agent itself. It shows the URL of the document "under the cursor".
We found converting our book, that it would be useful showing the user something more (or different) than the URL.
Even if the link is a self-explaining text, in didactical applications IT SHOULD BE MORE INFORMATIVE (AND MORE INFORMAL!).

Here is what we mean:
For a practical example have a look at the document


It's a simple demo-page of the toolbook version of ADDIZIONARIO.
You can see a picture showing a tree; in the web version the picture will have selectable areas: the grass, the leafs, etc. will point to new html documents containing words definitions, other pictures, music, sound, animations, and so on.

The didactical instrument ADDIZIONARIO is effective in reaching the foolowing goal in toolbook version: the user moves the cursor on a leaf and an icon "LEAF" appears near the cursor.
It allows the children to EXPLORE the picture. This is considered from the CNR developers of the project an important feature of the ADDIZIONARIO application.

We think it would be rather simple to add some feature to HTML allowing the definition of some bitmaps work (maybe in the <head> section of each document) to define the cursor aspect shown when we move on "ISMAP images" active regions or textual links. Or to add some feature allowing the definition of messages to be shown in a comment section of the browsers:
for example:

The bottom area of a grafical browser could have this aspect:

|MSG: "this will show you other pictures incuding a leaf" |....

We think it would be useful to make more interactive browser applications: in multimedia and didactical "books" these features are important.

We hope You'll find interesting our porpousal. We thought about something like

<reference-to-cursor-bitmap 1...>
<reference-to-cursor-bitmap 2...>
<reference-to-cursor-bitmap 3...>
<message-to-be-shown 1...>
<message-to-be-shown 2...>
<A HREF="anURL" a-somekind-of-reference-to-cursor xyz>

Probably, the LINK element could be used to reach a file containing a cursor icon. A cursors set could be considered a general accessory of an HTML document, and it could be loaded with (or before...) the body of the doc. Is this HTTP-WG matter?
In the same way this mechanism could be used in ISMAP images, and to show messages.

We eagerly wait your wise suggestions.
Prof. Franco Sirovich
Prof. Nello Balossino
Davide Bacchiega bacco@di.unito.it
Stefano Mondo stiddu@di.unito.it

Dipartimento di Informatica
Universita' degli studi di Torino