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IMOLE Overview - Integrated Manager Of Learning Environments

What IMOLE is designed to deliver

bulletEffective computer assisted instruction (as opposed to computer based re-distribution of lecture materials) targeted at addressing either specifically identified pedagogical problems in current educational strategies or at exploiting "pedagogical opportunities" made possible by the capabilities of modern information systems.
bulletMinimize the development/deployment burden on the faculty.
bulletDeliver a significant development/deployment time and cost savings relative to more traditional approaches where faculty are solely responsible for both content development and technology implementation.

How IMOLE accomplishes these goals

bulletEffective computer assisted instruction
bulletFaculty member (content expert) works with instructional designer (educational delivery expert) to determine how the computer should present information to address specifically identified pedagogical problems or opportunities.  The result of this collaboration is an intelligently designed computer interface (intelliface) tailored to meet these pre-defined pedagogical needs.  This collaborative effort between content expert and educational delivery expert guarantees that the resulting intelliface is actually adding value to the educational experience as opposed to being value-neutral or detrimental to the educational process.
bulletInstructional designer oversees daily aspects of intelliface development to ensure that the interactions it has with students are actually based on instructionally sound principles.
bulletIntellifaces are tested and further refined if necessary based on observed results of deployment and student feedback.
bulletMinimize the development/deployment burden on the faculty
bulletDevelopment of intellifaces permits experts involved in the process to operate within their area of expertise while making it unnecessary for them to make significant contributions outside of these areas.  Each member of the intelliface development team - faculty (content provider), instructional designer (addresses pedagogical issues), software developer, and multimedia specialist - contributes their unique knowledge to the overall solution.
bulletOne of the design goals of IMOLE is to enable reuse of the intellifaces so that a particular educational strategy, once implemented, can then be used by anyone who require the same pedagogical solution.
bulletDeliver a significant development/deployment time and cost savings
bulletAll the savings in development/deployment time above contribute to cost reduction and effectiveness.
bulletIMOLE specific software costs are small.  The currently selected cross-platform implementation environment would cost the institution only a few hundred dollars a year per IMOLE development team.
bulletOnce the IMOLE development environment is established, it is anticipated that new intellifaces will be developed over periods ranging from a few days to a few months.  As the library of intellifaces grows the need to develop new ones diminishes and efforts can be refocused to working with new faculty to match an existing intelliface to their educational needs and maintaining the delivery engine over version upgrades in the engine itself and the operating systems it is deployed on.
bulletThe process of developing and maintaining the underlying IMOLE delivery technology is handled by a small group of people and leveraged by each faculty member using it.  Consequently the person-days saved by this approach is rougly equal to the person-days invested by IMOLE team times the number of faculty using IMOLE.

Some problems associated with approaches where the faculty member develops their own solutions.

bulletFew faculty encompass all areas of expertise embodied in an IMOLE development team and of those few, even fewer have the time to utilize it to develop something.
bulletWe believe a common misconception is that faculty can develop effective computer assisted instructional software on their own (or with the assistance of a graduate student or two) utilizing currently available or "emerging" technologies.  In truth, the time needed to develop the instructional design, software development and multimedia skills required for these projects is equivalent to the time faculty have spent becoming content experts in their own fields.  Failing to recognize this generally leads to frustration after the faculty member has invested enough time to progress to a point on the learning curve where they realize realize they're in over their heads.
bulletThe instructional effectiveness of the resulting product is not an explicit factor in the design criteria.  While the experience of the faculty member may bias the outcome in a desired way, their relatively novice status in the areas of instructional design, software development and multimedia are more likely to bias the outcome in an undesired way.


How does IMOLE compare to other computer based "instructional" or "presentation" software packages that are available?

See feature comparison link to some commonly deployed campus solutions here. 

It is particularly important to note that HyperText (e.g., traditional web/browser) environments have been demonstrated by peer-reviewed research to be detrimental to student learning in a variety of situations.

Can IMOLE support different interfaces for the same content?

Yes (in some cases).  Most online content consists of text, images, navigational structures, etc., that make some sort of instructional sense only after being visually assembled on a page by the content provider.  The presentation mechanism itself usually has no knowledge of how these content elements relate to each other.  Consequently, the creation of a different set of relationships requires the content provider to hand-assemble them in the new format - again without the presentation package itself possessing any understanding about these relationships.  This can be quite tedious if two formats are required since each must be maintained independently even though the underlying content is the same.  The IMOLE process results in a categorization of each data element in a custom structure representing, in a sense, meta-knowledge about the content elements and their relation to the content subject as a whole (our implementation is much less esoteric than it sounds and does not explicitly rely on abstract knowledge representation paradigms).  This permits, where it makes sense, the same content to be presented in different interfaces, i.e., linearly, hierarchically, relationally, etc.

In one IMOLE deployment, the hierarchical interface had many hyperlinks among content elements and created, for students not familiar with the hierarchy and used to a linear presentation style, a rather confusing environment.  This shortcoming was recognized and a linear presentation interface developed (being developed) without requiring any content alterations on the part of the faculty member.  It is anticipated that the linear interface can be given to novice students to assist in their acquisition of hierarchical relationships - if the hierarchical interface doesn't work with a new crop of students when deployed from their initial exposure to the content - while the hierarchical interface itself can be presented only to more advanced students if that proves necessary.

The technology underlying IMOLE

How IMOLE accomplishes this

bulletThe current IMOLE engine is being developed in a commercial rapid application development tool known as Metacard which runs in Microsoft (95/98/NT/2000), MAC and UNIX environments.  However, because of the high modularization of IMOLE, and the separation of its content portions from the delivery engine, a completely different commercial development tool could be selected if the existing one went away or a better one came along, and no additional effort would be required of the faculty member to re-deploy their intelliface running on the new delivery engine.
bulletA professional software developer and graphic artist round out the development team ensuring that the software will perform even in the face of constantly changing and evolving technologies (operating systems, multimedia standards, software upgrades of Metacard, etc.)
bulletSoftware is designed to take advantage of the computer's ability to truly serve as a non-linear instructional platform as opposed to simply being an information distribution platform.
bulletFaculty are responsible only for maintaining content.  Skill sets associated with the software aspects of the project, i.e., development, deployment, maintenance, instructional design, and graphic arts do not become additional burdens the faculty must bear.
bulletThe group will work with faculty to develop new ways for the software to present material.  These new interactions can then be made available to all faculty who are using the software.  For example, it is a future goal to build adaptive testing into this software and this feature would be available as an addition even to projects already deployed.
bulletFor more information, contact our Instructional Designer and Multimedia group leader, Tim Bleiler: ( 

These QuickTime movies are under development and the current incarnations are a bit rough, but they are designed to give a preliminary introduction to IMOLE and how it illustrates the direction being taken by HSIT to deliver on-line instructional materials to HSIT constituents

You will need a QuickTime viewer to see these presentations.  This is available free at:

The presentation consists of two parts, available in a variety of resolutions to meet your bandwidth capabilities.

Note: these are not streaming video's.  You may need to save them locally before viewing them to achieve satisfactory playback results.  Your PC must also be equipped to play the sound associated with these presentations.

  Part I - philosophy Part II - IMOLE components
Audience All software architecture
High resolution 39,392 KB 6,401 KB
Medium resolution 8,035 KB 3,175 KB
Low resolution 4,500 KB 1,956 KB


IMOLE System Requirements ...

IMOLE has been tested on the following Operating Systems used by the University: Windows (Win95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / XP / VISTA), Apple OS (10.x).

The technology underpinning IMOLE supports the following additional operating systems, though these have not been specifically tested: Unix, Linux

IMOLE requires Apple QuickTime for these environments for multimedia playback (freely available here:

We are testing IMOLE for use with a CITRIX server. The program can run off local machines with CD/DVD ROM drives. IMOLE can also run off networks (including the Internet) to any supported computer.

Content last reviewed: 3/1/2007

University at Buffalo, State University of New York
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