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IMOLE feature comparison
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UB Wings


This page is compares features of selected technical implementation approaches to IMOLE





Authoring Tool



professional analysis of project specific pedagogical issues Y S S S First phase of iMole implementation involves faculty working with Instructional Designer
computer interface design based on professional analysis of specific pedagogical issues Y N S S The iMole interface "looks" (content organizational structure, presentation, navigation, features) like whatever is appropriate for resolving specified pedagogical issues
a library of custom interfaces can be built for subsequent use on problems similar in pedagogical requirements Y ? S S
Faculty responsible for content management (generation and integration into tool) Y Y Y Y
Faculty responsible for software maintenance (tool version changes, supported operating system changes) N N Y Y This is a significant and often unrecognized burden on faculty who elect to develop their own software (even in environments such as authoring languages)


Automatic generation of quizzes based on content (no or minimal additional faculty intervention required) F S S S

Computer Assisted Instruction

Tailor information presentation based on responses to quiz items (automatically from content; no additional faculty input required) F ? S S The principal iMole designer, Tim Bleiler, did his Ph.D. thesis on adaptive testing.  We hope to take advantage of this by incorporating adaptive testing into iMole for the purpose of letting iMole identify content areas that individual students are having trouble with and directing them to those areas without instructor intervention.
pedagogically appropriate presentation Y S S S At some point, the way the computer delivers information crosses over from merely providing access to content (distribution) to actually assisting in the learning process.  It is our goal to ensure that iMole interfaces fall into this latter category.

Human Interaction

Student to Student messaging (asynchronous) N ? S ?

iMole not designed with these features but they could be incorporated

Student to Student messaging (synchronous) N ? S ?
Student to Teacher messaging (asynchronous) N ? S ?
Student to Teacher messaging (synchronous) N ? S ?


Ability to customize interface (1-10) 10 3 8 S

core to iMole approach

Ability to change presentation interface (pedagogical approach) without faculty intervention (1-10) 7 1(?) ? S

pedagogically appropriate navigational structure (linear, hierarchical, relational, etc.) Y ? S S

core to iMole approach

mode-dependent overlays which can be incorporated as part of navigational structure Y ? S S

Media types supported

Text Y Y Y Y

Sound Y Y S ?

Images Y Y Y Y

Movies Y Y Y ?

3rd party formats ? S S ?

with availability of 3rd party 'viewer'

Ease with adding/removing prepared content from presentation (1-10) 9 9 9 9

This capability is specifically provided with IMOLE via a tool designed to work with each pedagogical model

Management Features

Automatically load with class lists N ? S S
Permit students to determine what material they have reviewed C ? S S

can be done in iMole when pedagogically appropriate

Generate report related to what content student has accessed N ? S S

could be incorporated into iMole but value is questionable

Deliver time-windowed quizzes N ? S S

could be incorporated into iMole but iMole has not been designed with multiple problems associated with electronic testing in mind

Distribution mechanism

Available on-line Y Y Y ?

IMOLE runs on the local machine but the program and content can be downloaded from a WEB page

Available off-line (CD, download, local-PC) Y N ? Y

Runs in WEB browser N ? Y ?

This is a feature which iMole could support but has been disabled for pedagogical reasons (additional clutter of browser interface / navigational features & potential bandwidth restrictions)

Platforms supported

server side
NA ? ? ?

client side
separate run-time engine for each platform (no charge) separate WEB browser for each platform (no charge) separate WEB browser, VM, etc., for each platform (no charge) ?

Microsoft Win9x Y Y Y ?

IMOLE has a separate executable that runs on each platform.  BlackBoard is WEB based and can run on any platform which supports a compatible WEB browser

Microsoft NT Y Y Y ?
Apple Macintosh Y Y Y ?
UNIX (various) Y Y Y ?

Component Model

"Out of the box" software N Y N N

IMOLE relies upon locally developed code running on top of commercially available software.  WEB (HTML, JAVA, etc.) and Authoring tools rely upon a similar strategy with the exception that the faculty member is responsible for developing the code using commercially available software

Difficulty for faculty to migrate to new "run-time" engine if current software package is discarded. (1-10) 1 5 ? ?

Little or no additional work from Faculty required for iMole.  BlackBoard would be equivalent (?) to TopClass -> Blackboard migration

Difficulty for support staff to migrate to new "run-time" engine if current software package is discarded. (1-10) 9 5 ? ?

In iMole, the work to define pedagogically appropriate interfaces and populate them with content would not have to be redone.  However, a significant amount of time might have to be invested to rebuild the ability to implement them in another software package.


Educational Technology Center ? Y Y Y

HSIT multimedia group Y N N N

Instructional Technology Support (CIT) ? ? ? ?

UB Help Desk (CIT) ? ? ? ?

bulletC - Conditional (can be used in some situations)
bulletF - Planned future capability
bulletN - No
bulletNA - not applicable
bulletS - Separately (not part of package, but may be acquired separately)
bulletP - Possible; could be incorporated if determined to have pedagogical usefulness
bulletY - Yes
bullet? - unknown or tool specific

General note on iMole "features".  Since the iMole features are built in by the HSIT multimedia group, any 'feature' which can be implemented on a computer can be supported.  Features listed as 'N' are not currently planned.

Content last reviewed: 03/03/2000

University at Buffalo, State University of New York
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