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-- the Labyrinth August 1994 --

Mosaic: Two Perspectives

Faculty Perspective

Rod Freeman, EMCCC
Rod Freeman is using Mosaic to design an Internet "Tryptic," a travel guide for English literature.

A tremendous amount of information is available on the Internet and through on-line resources. This myriad labyrinth of critical and enlightening resources (10+terabytes) are, at times, inaccessible to our learning community and obscured in a maze of access points and descending menus. In the course of the past decade, a dream of an interactive hypermedia delivery has emerged. The seamless, instantaneous delivery of a richly expansive informational resource--one that is all things to all people--yet eludes us. But, there is an elegant hypermedia system, touted as "the first true global hypermedia network," named "Mosaic." Mosaic offers a large part of the hypermedia dream today.

Mosaic is technically a hypermedia network information "browser". Current Mosaic offerings number in the hundreds with new ones appearing daily. A few of these efforts include the complete works of William Shakespeare (literature), the 1492 Exhibit (history), Library of Congress holdings (information resources), and the The SunSITE Mathematical Art Gallery (mathematics). Some of the best news about the system are that it allows the instructor/designer to use and organize resources from remote sites around the world and delivers them to the student's networked computer.

Instructional Media Problems

I use instructional media when they are optimal. Unfortunately, there is no guide or indexed phone book for accessing the resources. As an English instructor, I had my students burrowed into diverse informational databases. For research papers in Freshman Composition, students delved into international networks and databases through a confounding series of menus, only to find resources almost by accident. A few enterprising students began finding illustrations--satellite photos, pictures, and movies to incorporate into their projects. Students in literature classes soon followed, but I was disturbed by the hit-or-miss aspect of accessing the information. Assigning them to find topics and issues on "Cultural Diversity" varied widely depending on the trail the students took. Usually, student access to resources was through word-of-mouth, special interest lists, or general search strategies. I wanted to present students with a more straightforward resource to initially investigate their topics before they sallied forth to navigate the eddies and currents of network resources.

For myself, I was still intrigued with the idea of transcending the limitations of using only paper resources in assignments. Yet, attempts to integrate millions of worldwide repositories of information into my classes yielded mixed results. There was no convenient platform of access. I remembered several resources for cultural art and numerous textual resources for students, but I lacked a delivery platform for accessing the images quickly and painlessly.

Mosaic--a Solution

Mosaic seems to be an environment to fill the need for ready access on the personal computer to audio, video, pictorial, and textual materials in a more organized, curricular way. It is relatively simple to use and allows me to integrate my course materials with millions of video, audio and text resources into an electronic hyper-textbook. My students may also approach the diversity module differently by adding their own voice and textual annotations allowing the learning community to interact.

Mosaic is not the fully integrated program envisioned in Cyberspace dreams, but it is an excellent working vehicle for delivery of instruction. It is a user-friendly program which allows instructors to present and organize information (available up until now only through a Daedalean journey) into an easily implemented and easily revisable hypermedia presentation using existing worldwide resources. I recommend that instructors look into Mosaic as a vehicle for delivery of any digital multimedia resources offered in your curriculum.

Student Perspective

Kurt Leinbach, CGCC
Kurt Leinback has done much of the work to set up a Mosaic server at CGCC.

I was introduced to the Internet and Mosaic several months ago. Even though I have spent many hours exploring the Internet, I constantly find new items of interest. Until I began using Mosaic, I was content with the resources and information available to me. However, since then, I have become info-hungry. There is so much available about other societies, news, art, technology, and virtually anything else imaginable. Mosaic was overwhelming at first, but it quickly became addictive. I occupy much of my free time, even the breaks between class, net surfing. I have found many useful servers that I have benchmarked, making information retrieval a quick and simple process unheard of before now. I have gone from not being able to find enough resources to having to sort through a cornucopia of information that I receive. Using global searches, I can retrieve too much information for any given research subject in just minutes. Also, the quality of the information has improved greatly since I started using Mosaic.

In addition to research-oriented information, there is just as much service-oriented information out there. I check ski and weather reports daily. There is an unbelievable job server and resume listing service that I will definitely take advantage of when I graduate. There are visual tours of museums, colleges, and cities allowing me to experience these things vicariously through the computer.

Mosaic has changed the way I approach different aspects of my life, from school to recreational activities. It has increased my productivity, as well as the accuracy and quality of my work. I find Mosaic an invaluable tool and only hope that many others will appreciate the benefits that can be gained by its use.

Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI)
The Internet Connection at MCLI is Alan Levine --}
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