Distance Learning in Multimedia-Networks: a Finnish National Multimedia Projects


Visa Törmälä, project planner, Master of Education

Educational Technology Center, Information Technology Research Institute

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Email: Visa.Tormala@titu.jyu.fi




History and Civics – CD-ROM and Teachers’ Material on the WWW



The starting point for the History and Civics -pilot is to support teachers who develop their work. They also bring information to the companies which produce learning material. The purpose of the research is to find out the direction of new strategies to produce learning material and to find out how it could be used in future. How to take advantage of possibilities of the new technology.

The role of a study book is changing. Different products and services will be developed to support the traditional learning material. The development of the technology brings the fast networks, interactive possibilities of internet and hypermedia based learning material.

The pilot is carried out in co-operation with the teachers, companies and the researchers of Etäkamu. The companies offer their products into the pilot's use.

Valuable information in the companies point of view are the experiences that have been received in practical teaching situations. It gives proposals for the development of new material. The subjects of the research are both curricula of the schools and ways of action.

The partners in this pilot are the publishing company Otava, the media company Helsinki Media and the software company Teleste and comprehensive schools in Jyväskylä, Jämsä and Tampere



The pilot consists of two parts, history and civics


The research aims are based on the interests of the companies. They are divided into technical and pedagogic aims.


The survey of www-based teachers material

The purpose is to clarify teachers who have registered themselves as the users of Internet based material from Koulu-Otava. What has made them use services and what kind of facilities they themselves have. The use of www-material in school teaching and the experiences that have been received from it support the company in developing of their services.

The purpose of the questionnaire survey is to clarify the device equipment of the schools which use material, net solutions and their development plans. The information is gathered also from the ability to use information technology

and home use of the teacher's . An attempt is made to clarify from it in teaching, the uses of www-material also and the teachers' experiences. The teachers can also make proposals for material development.

The questions which are related to the network services are clarified with the survey study. The questionnaire has been mailed to the teachers. 3-5 teachers will be chosen to the theme interview to obtain deeper results.


Teaching experiment of the civics, Home town - learning period

During the pilot teachers and pupils test the compatibility of the textbooks and material in the Internet. The techniques which belong to the pilot, such as data transfer connections and the use of the teaching technology in school will be intensified.

In the experiment the participating teaching groups are the ninth classes in comprehensive school. The pupils produce their project into multimedia using Partner Tools -software or to Web sites. In the planning of the period the teachers co-operate in developing tasks which are suitable for Internet environment and direct pupils’ co-operation with other schools. The purpose of co-operation is that the pupils produce material which makes the analysis between information possible. The period will be carried out in the begin of –98.

The Partner Tools - software for preparing multimedia is used by the pupils. In fact it has been developed for language teaching but are looked for new use applications.


Teaching experiment of the history - Imperialism -learning period using CD-ROM

The aim of research is to evaluate present material technically and pedagogical in school environment. It should also correspond to learning aims. The research will define how material will fit into curricula of various schools and as well multimedias surplus value to pupils, teachers and to learning process compared to traditional materials and ways of learning. What kind of supplementary material multimedia needs in printed or electronic form.

It will be clarified in Etäkamu- project how material will function in web environment. In future material formats for net distribution and payment traffics will be organised.

Imperialism has been chosen for subject in the period of history. Subject belongs to 7th or 8th grades curricula. Teachers plan implementation themselves. In brief test period has got experiments using cd-rom. Observation gives teachers information about matters which are related to the carrying out of the period. How pupils will find the required information what kind of difficulties there are in using multimedia learning material. Teacher gives the subject of project or pupils are able to choose it themselves. In this case teacher will help choosing the problem and work out the subjects.

Teams search information for their projects from cd-roms and Internet. They use other sources as well; books, maps etc. The teams use Partner Tools multimedia software in making their own multimedia productions.



At the moment the planning of the history period is in progress. The teachers are collecting subjects for pupils’ projects and material connected to them; maps, texts and www-links. The pupils are testing the use of the cd roms before the beginning of the period. Some of the groups will start the learning period of imperialism by the end of this year.

The multimedia material seems to be suitable learning material. The teachers need to plan carefully utility of the cd-rom because material is not very wide-ranging. Topics are dealt generously. It requires the good knowledge of content and the right arrangement of the tasks.

Some questions are already occurred. Usage of maps and pictures is limited by copyright. Material in Internet is mostly in foreign language and difficult to use as an information source.

The possibility to develop their own work and to co-operate with learning material producers motivates teachers. The pupils are also interested in experiment and waiting to be able to use new learning technology.