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MediaLink

Version 2.1

User's Guide

(c) 1994-1995 InterEd Inc. and University of South Carolina
Revised 11/27/95

What is MediaLink?

MediaLink, a Macintosh hypermedia authoring tool that allows network collaboration, permits users to develop their own multimedia lessons by assembling a variety of text materials, sound files, digitized photos, or QuickTime movies. Flexible and easy to learn, it is designed to avoid the steeper learning curve of other multimedia authoring software. The program supports the creation and use of multimedia lessons by using "drag-and-drop" techniques for linking various media types. MediaLink can then become a collaborative learning environment with shared files and group work in an AppleTalk network or over the Internet. This merger of functionality of authoring and networking gives users the ability to communicate electronically by "phoning," collaborating on a common document, or transmitting files (text, sound, pictures) through the network -- all within the scope of a multimedia lesson. Recent additions to the program include the capability to view a live video signal, such as a TV program, on the screen. All of this development is under the control of the users who created the lessons.

System Requirements

A Macintosh running system 7.0 or higher with at least four megabytes of RAM is needed. For movies you need to install the Macintosh QuickTime extension. If you do not have QuickTime, the program will disable the movie features and allow you to continue with the three other media.

To use the communication features, your computer must be connected to an AppleTalk or TCP/IP network. For live video, you must have an incoming video signal running through a Macintosh AV or a video capture board.

Getting Started

To start MediaLink, click twice on the MediaLink icon.

As the MediaLink program starts up, the title window will briefly appear on the screen. You may click on this window to continue.

Working with Lessons

A lesson is the multimedia show that is produced by MediaLink. Users view the lesson by exploring how media have been "linked" to each other in the lesson. Along with the MediaLink software comes a sample lesson called MediaLink Demo. The MediaLink Demo is suitable for learning some of the concepts and features of MediaLink.

Opening A Lesson
To open a lesson, choose the File menu and select Open Lesson.... Find the name of the lesson in the list, highlight it, and click on the Open button.

Creating A New Lesson
To create a lesson, select New Lesson... under the File menu. Give your lesson a name in the "Save File As" box; then click on the Save button.

Closing A Lesson
To close a lesson, select Close Lesson under the File menu. When one closes a lesson, all changes made to it are saved automatically.

Saving A Lesson
To save the links in a lesson, select Save Lesson under the File menu. It is a good idea to save the lesson after making substantial changes.

Quitting The Program

To quit the program, select Quit under the File menu. All network communication in MediaLink must have been completed before you may quit.

The Basics of Resources

A MediaLink resource is a window containing a text, sound, movie or graphic. Resources are pieced together to make a multimedia lesson.

Opening Resources
To display a resource in a window in MediaLink, chose the File menu and select Open Resource.... Find the name of the resource in the list, highlight it, and click on the Open button. If the resource is a graphic, movie, or sound, you may receive a preview of it at the left side of the dialog box.

Note: Resources can only be opened after a lesson has been opened.

Open Resource Dialog Box

Creating a New Resource
To create a new resource, under the File menu select New Resource.... Click in the circle by the type of resource that you wish to create (text, sound, graphics, movie, or live video), and click on the OK button.

You may also create a new resource by clicking on the appropriate icon in the toolbar (see "Using Resources and the Lesson Tools").

Saving Resources
To save a resource, choose Save under the File menu.

Closing Resources
To close a resource, either click on the go-away box in the upper left corner of the resource window or select Close under the File menu.

Resource File Formats
MediaLink accepts the following types of standard Macintosh media resources:

Resource File Type
Text 'TEXT' (ASCII text)
Sound 'snd ', 'sfil' (System 7 sounds)
Graphics 'PICT'
Movies 'MooV' (QuickTime movies)

Making a Hypermedia Lesson

MediaLink is designed to let users combine resources (texts, sounds, pictures, and movies) easily and quickly into multimedia lessons. It uses the standard Macintosh operation of "dragging" a resource to a destination and "dropping" it there. The "drag and drop" interface makes it possible for inexperienced users to create multimedia lessons without scripting or flowcharting, common in other hypermedia authoring systems. Central to MediaLink authoring is this linking process.

Linking
Before making a link between two resources, both resources must be saved. The linking process is very much like putting something into a container. That is, you highlight the container, you highlight the item to put into the container, then you drag the item into the container. To open the container (or "expand the link"), click twice on the container to display its contents.

Beginning a Link with Destination and Source Highlighted

Refer to the picture above. The user is attempting to link two text resources. Specifically, the selected words "click here" will be linked to the selected written questions.

To make the link, hold the mouse down in the highlighted area of the resource window to be linked and drag the outline of the item over to the container. Linking of other resource types works in a similar fashion.

MediaLink saves a window's size and location with the link. So, the next time you expand that link by double-clicking on it, the resulting windows will appear with the same dimensions and in the same locations on the screen.

Making the Link

In the illustration above, the item to be placed in the link container has been dragged to the container, and the container has been highlighted to show that the link is possible. To complete the link, let go of the mouse and the linking "ding-dong" sound will be heard. When you hear this linking sound, the link has been established.

If you wish to see that your link has, in fact, been made, go up to the Link menu and select Show Links. This should place a colored box around all of your links. You can double-click within any link to view its contents.

You should also construct at least one link to the home button (see "Using Resources and the Lesson Tools"). Any resources that are linked to the home button will be displayed automatically when the lesson is opened. It is important that you make at least one link to the home button in your lesson. Otherwise, a user, upon opening your lesson, will be staring at a blank screen with no links to follow.
For more advanced linking options, hold down the Option key as you make the link. This will bring up the Link Options dialog box. The Link Options dialog allows you to close windows that are open (to reduce screen clutter) and provides special options depending on the media type. Every type of resource offers an appropriate Link Options box similar to the one below for a sound resource.

Link Options Dialog for Sound

Sounds and movies can be set to play automatically when a link is followed (Autoplay). It is also possible to set some resources, such as text, to show or hide the destination selection of the link (Show selections). For example, if you linked to a text resource, you could highlight a phrase in that window with Show selections. There are also situations where it may be desirable to have a window hidden by default, such as a sound playing in the background (Hide window). Normally a sound window will appear when its link is expanded. Choosing Hide Window and Autoplay will play the sound when the link is expanded without showing the window.

The left side of the dialog box allows you to select windows to be automatically closed (or left open) upon expansion of a link. The top scrolling area toggles between the list of visible windows (those currently open) and all the windows in the lesson. The bottom scrolling area toggles between closing or leaving open the windows listed there. Window names are moved between one area and the other by clicking the name and pushing the arrow button. Note that two special shortcut items allow you to select all or no windows to close.

Linking Tips
It is best to turn file sharing off (through the Sharing Setup control panel) when making a lesson, especially if you plan to use that lesson on other disks or machines. MediaLink will warn you the first time that you link with file sharing enabled.

Suppose that you would like to make a link to a resource that covers the entire screen. There is no apparent way to drag the destination selection on top of the source selection or container. Holding down the Command key (the one with the apple) while starting the drag will temporarily hide the destination window, exposing the source and allowing you to complete the link.

You may use the Alignment option under the Window menu to help place the window in your lesson. Using these options affects the active window only. Also, note that MediaLink preserves the window size and position of windows that appear from link expansion. Therefore, it is important to consider the resolution of the monitors on which the lesson will be viewed in relation to the resolution of the monitor that is being used for authoring. For example, suppose a lesson is created on a monitor with a resolution of 832 by 624 pixels, with resources placed in the far right or bottom of the screen. That same lesson's resources, when viewed on a monitor with a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, may not appear since they are off the screen.

It may be desirable to have a large graphic scroll automatically to a specific location in the graphic. To do this, size the window and scroll the graphic to the desired location before making the link. Select a small region in the upper left hand corner of the graphic. Make the link as usual, but make sure that you show selections (a link option). MediaLink will scroll to the upper left hand corner of the selection region when the link is expanded later.

Editing Links

Deleting a link in MediaLink is as simple as making a link. To delete a particular link, make that link again using the same process of "drag and drop" that you went through to link the resources originally. MediaLink will inform you that the link already exists and give you the option to delete that link, update that link, show that link, or cancel. Delete Link will remove the described link from your lesson. Update Link will make the link again, possibly with new options, a different screen placement, or a modified selection region. Show Link will highlight the exact selections that were originally made for this link.

Edit Link Dialog

It is important to remember that a lesson file stores only the links to the resources, not the actual resources. Therefore, when you delete a link, you are not affecting your text, sound, graphics, or movies in any way.

On the other hand, do not throw away any resources that may still be linked into your lesson. You should first delete any links to a resource before you delete the resource. Otherwise, your lesson will point to resources that no longer exist, creating an unpleasant experience for someone viewing your lesson.

There is an alternative and comprehensive way to edit all the links from a given area as a group. Hold down the Option key while double-clicking on a linked area to bring up the dialog box shown in the following picture. The same result can be accomplished by choosing Expand... from the Link menu.

Edit Links Dialog

This dialog box allows you to expand all the links listed (such as normal link expansion via a double-click), delete selected links from the list, or expand selected links from the list.

Editing links in this manner is especially appropriate for cases where links in a lesson may have become "corrupted" due to deleted or lost resources. For example, suppose that the "Explosion Movie" resource used in a link in the above is mistakenly erased from the disk. Although the link to the movie still exists, the movie itself is missing. An error will occur if the user tries to expand that particular link, confusing the user. The designer of a lesson, however, could remove the offending link to the deleted movie using this dialog that edits previously made links.

Lesson Preferences

To modify the preferences for a lesson, choose Lesson Preferences... from the File menu. The following dialog box will appear.

Lesson Preferences Dialog

There are several categories of preferences that you may change: Lock, General, Colors, and Kiosk. Each category's options can be viewed by clicking on the appropriate icon in the list on the left side of the dialog box. These are the categories:

Lock

Once you have completed a MediaLink lesson, you may want to "lock" it down so that it cannot be modified. Locking a lesson means the lesson's links and resources cannot be altered. New links, however, can still be made to the original lesson using the annotation file mechanism discussed later in this document.

To lock a lesson, choose Lock... from this dialog box. You will be prompted for a password to secure your lesson. Only users who know this password will be able to unlock the lesson. To unlock a lesson, choose Unlock... from the lesson preferences. The password that was entered upon locking the lesson must be given.

General

Show Links will make the colored boxes around links visible when your lesson is opened. Show Background will put a background behind your resources to keep users from accidentally clicking into the Finder. Hide Toolbar will cause the MediaLink toolbar (discussed in the next section) to be initially hidden.

Colors

Two color options can be made: Link color, for the color of the boxes around the lesson's links, and Background color, for the color of the background behind the resources.

Kiosk

Open Lesson in Kiosk Mode will hide all window borders and the menu bar, which may be useful for final presentation of a lesson or use with a touch screen. By default, the mouse pointer will be hidden in kiosk mode unless the mouse is moving. You can choose to Hide Mouse, which turns the mouse pointer completely off at all times. Match Backgrounds will color the background of text and graphics resources to blend in with the background color of the lesson. Clicking the Reset... option and entering a number of minutes will return the lesson to its home state after the entered period of inactivity.

There are two special keystrokes available when a lesson is in kiosk mode. Command-Option-M will toggle the menu bar on and off. Command-Option-K will toggle the lesson in and out of kiosk mode. Note that turning kiosk mode on and off will send the lesson back to its home links.

Using Resources and the Lesson Tools

MediaLink provides a toolbar to assist in the creation of resources and lessons.

The MediaLink Toolbar
The toolbar is the window that appears in the lower corner of the screen when a lesson has been created. This toolbar can be used to carry out many of the functions of MediaLink.

The Toolbar

The toolbar can be hidden if desired. Simply click in the close box of the toolbar to hide it. To show it again, choose Show Toolbar from the Window menu.

History Button
Clicking and holding down the mouse button on the history button will show you a list of recently viewed windows in the current lesson. Only windows that result from expanding a link will be shown in the history list. You can move to a window's name in the list to reopen or activate that window.

Text Resources
Text resources are the resources that contain typed-in material. Books, papers, pages, etc., are all examples of text resources. A single text resource is limited to 32 kilobytes (32 K) in size. MediaLink uses the same Apple standard text editor as SimpleText, which is also limited to a 32 K file.

The Text Button
Clicking on the text button opens up a new text resource window. This window can be used to create new text resources, either created at the keyboard or brought in from another source through the Macintosh clipboard. There are several formatting options under the Text menu that allow various fonts, styles, sizes, alignment, and color options for the text.

A Text Resource

Sound Resources
Sound resources are sounds that may be played or recorded. To record a sound, your Macintosh must have a microphone. Sound resources may be placed in link containers in (or "linked to") both pictures and text. The following illustrations show how highlighting of sound is done to create links to the other media.

The Sound Button
Clicking on the sound button opens up a new sound resource. This resource can be used to record a new sound directly in MediaLink.

Sound Resource with Graph Hidden

Sound Resource with Graph Shown

Graphics Resources
Graphics resources are the resources that contain pictures. Graphs, charts, digitized pictures, and Photo CD images are all examples of graphic resources. Graphics resources cannot be composed within MediaLink but should be made outside the program and imported. MediaLink imports graphics saved in the standard Macintosh PICT format.

The Graphics Button
Clicking on this button gives you a blank graphics resource window. These blank windows are handy for making new graphics resources by pasting graphics in them from the Macintosh clipboard.

A Graphics Resource

Graphics Selection Tools
You are not limited to rectangular areas when selecting regions in graphics windows. By using the graphics tear-off menu (see following illustration) found by choosing Tools from the Graphics menu, you can also have polygonal regions, circular regions, or even regions drawn in freehand.

Graphics Tear-off Menu

Movie Resources
Movie resources are the resources that contain QuickTime movies. MediaLink can read, copy, cut, and paste movies. Movies can also be digitized through the live video window, described in this section.

The Movie/TV Button
Clicking on this button gives you a blank movie resource (or a live video window if the Option key is depressed). These blank windows are handy for creating new movie resources by pasting existing movies in them from the Macintosh clipboard. To highlight a segment of a QuickTime movie for linking to another resource, hold down the Shift key. You can then place the mouse within the QuickTime position bar and drag it over a portion of the movie to select it for linking (see following illustration).

A Movie Resource

Movie Tracks
QuickTime movies may be composed of multiple, separate tracks such as video, sound, and even text. For instance, a video intended for foreign language instruction may have a scrolling text track, in addition to the video and sound, that contains the written dialog of the movie. MediaLink allows the user to set the tracks for a movie via the Information... option under the Movie menu.

Setting up a Movie's Tracks

You can use the Edit menu items to modify QuickTime movies. Cut, Copy, and Paste work as expected. Furthermore, you can add additional parallel tracks into a movie in QuickTime. Holding down the Option key will change the Paste command to Add, and the Cut command to Trim. The Add command will add a parallel track starting at the beginning of the current selection for the length of time of the item on the clipboard. The Trim option trims the movie to contain only the selected portion and discards the rest. Holding Option and Shift will change Paste to Add Scaled. This works like Add, except that the item being added will be scaled to fit entirely in the current selection. Therefore, if you add a long bit of music in a very small selection, it will play very fast.

Suppose that you have a normal QuickTime movie with video and sound to which you would like to add a text track. Open a text window and type a caption for some part of the movie using any font and style you desire. Copy the text to the clipboard. Select the movie window and use the movie controller to select the segment of the movie where the caption should be added. Once selected, hold the Option and Shift keys and choose Add Scaled from the Edit menu. Your text caption should appear below the movie during the playing of that segment.

For QuickTime movies with no visual data (such as QuickTime 2.0 MIDI sound files), a small, draggable region will appear underneath the movie controller.

Linking from a Movie (Time-Based Linking)
It is possible, although unusual, to link from a movie to other resources. Consider the following situation: Suppose your lesson has a link to a movie that shows different landmarks on a college campus. During the portion of the movie where the physical education center is shown, you may wish to have a text window appear describing its facilities. Linking from the movie to the text window as described below, thus creating a time-based link, will accomplish that goal.

The linking process is very similar to how other, more conventional, resources are linked in MediaLink. Dragging and dropping a resource on top of a movie will make the time-based link. Note, however, that the portion of the movie (if any) that is selected when the link is made will affect how the link is interpreted. A link from a selected portion of a movie to another resource will cause that resource to appear when the movie starts to play the beginning of the selection and disappear at the end of the selection. A link from a point in a movie (i.e. there is no selection) will simply cause the resource to appear at that point in the movie.

Consider a second situation. Suppose you would like the user of your lesson to see further information only after viewing a movie in its entirety. This is possible by linking from the endpoint of the movie to other resources, as described above.

There is a special link option (see "Making a Hypermedia Lesson" for information on link options) called Preloading available only for links from movies. If a movie has a link to a large resource, the movie may appear to skip frames or audio while the resources is loaded. Preloading allows a resource to be loaded before a movie begins playing in order to minimize this delay.

Live Video Window
If you have a Macintosh that accepts a video signal, you can view that signal in a MediaLink window by clicking on the TV button (it will appear in place of the movie button when the Option key is depressed). There are several buttons along the bottom of the window, as shown in the following picture:

A Live Video Window

This button will mute the sound.

This button will take a snapshot of the video and place it in a MediaLink graphics window.

This button will allow you to record a QuickTime movie from the video.

See the Video menu for further preferences for viewing the video signal and recording movies. One of the set of preferences, File Output Options, follows with a description of its choices.

File Output Options (for movie capture)

The Home Button
This button provides a means of telling the program what you want on the screen when the lesson begins. To have a resource open on the screen when the lesson begins, you highlight the resource and drag it to the Home button just as you create a normal link. The button, when pressed, clears the screen and starts the lesson over again.

The Communications Button
The communications button is used to access the networking features of MediaLink, described in the Communication sections.

Creating User Annotations

MediaLink allows users to add personal annotations to lessons without changing the original lesson. With annotations, users can customize lessons as they prefer by adding new resources or creating new links for existing resources. Annotation is ideal for several purposes. For example, a teacher may want students to respond to a MediaLink lesson that the teacher has produced. Furthermore, a lesson may be locked or distributed on a CD-ROM and cannot be modified, but students or teachers may want to add additions or comments as new links.

Setting Up an Annotation File
To set up an annotation to a lesson, go to the File menu and select Annotation and then New....

The Annotation Window

To see a list of open annotations, click on the Show Annotations arrow on the MediaLink toolbar. There are buttons on the toolbar that are shortcuts for creating, opening, and closing annotations. To close an annotation file, select its name in the toolbar and press the Close button.

Colors can be chosen to make the links from the lesson appear distinct from the new links created as annotations by clicking on the color box as in the following illustration. The standard Macintosh color wheel will appear, allowing the user to pick a color for the corresponding links. For instance, students could add their own individual links in a rainbow of colors, one chosen by each student.

MediaLink Toolbar with Annotations Shown

Making annotations is done exactly the same way as creating links with normal lessons, using the "drag and drop" process. The standard four media resources are suitable for creating annotations. You must, however, choose a lesson file or annotation file where a link will be saved. Turn on a file's pencil icon to have new links placed there.

Although multiple annotations may be opened simultaneously, you can choose which file's links you would like enabled. Clicking on the check mark on the left side of a file's name in the toolbar will enable or disable that file's links. For example, a teacher may open a set of student annotations, all differently color-coded, and look at them separately. Activating the check mark by each student's name will enable his or her colored links. Deactivating the check mark will disable that student's colored links. One or more students' links can be enabled at the same time.

If a lesson or annotation file has been locked so that direct modifications cannot be made to it, an icon of a lock will appear beside its name.

Getting Network Communication Started

One of the strengths of MediaLink is its ability to share information across networks to other users. MediaLink offers networking on the Internet as well as among groups of Macintoshes linked together with AppleTalk. To get the basics of communication down, follow this section. The next section will describe each network feature in detail.

Configuring the Network
Before networking, you must first configure the network for your personal preferences. To do this, you must choose Options from the Network menu. You will be presented with three choices: General..., AppleTalk... and TCP/IP....

The Network Menu

The General... option brings up a dialog box that allows you to set the way that incoming windows will be displayed on the screen.

The General Options Dialog

The AppleTalk... option allows you to set up communications within an AppleTalk network. The TCP/IP... option allows you to set up TCP/IP (Internet) networking.

The AppleTalk Options dialog gives a list of AppleTalk zones available to your Macintosh (see the following illustration). To select an AppleTalk zone for MediaLink usage, click on the left side of the name so that a check mark appears next to the zones that you wish to communicate with.

In the setup you can select more than one zone. The network your machine is on will be shown in boldface (CSD 3rd Floor FastPath in the illustration). Once your network has been configured, you will not have to go back to this menu.

Changing the search variables will vary the amount of time that MediaLink will search for other users on an AppleTalk network. The default settings will work for most configurations. Nevertheless, suppose that you had a network with fast computers but slow bandwidth. It may help to move the Devices slider down and the Network slider up. To make MediaLink search the network for the longest period of time, you would move both sliders to the top. It may take some experimentation to determine the optimal settings for your network.

The AppleTalk Network Options Dialog

The TCP/IP Network Options Dialog

The TCP/IP options screen gives you the ability to have MediaLink look for other MediaLink users through their machine addresses on the Internet.

Logging On to the Network
To login for MediaLink networking, select Login... from the Network menu. A dialog will come up that looks like this:

Network Login Screen

Enter a name to identify yourself and click on the OK button.

Getting a List of Network Users
To get a list of other MediaLink users, click on the communications button on the toolbar and a window will come up with all of the users who are logged onto the network with MediaLink. To update this list to see if people have logged on or off, click on the communications button again.

The Users Window

To see where a user is, click and hold the mouse button down on the arrow button next to the user's name. This will show you the user's name, the method by which you are accessing the user, and the network address of the user.

An AppleTalk User

With AppleTalk you see the zone of the user on the third line. With TCP/IP you see the network address of the user on this line.

A TCP/IP (Internet) User

Using Network Communication in MediaLink

Communication has three flexible modes of networking: phoning another user; sending resources (including texts, sounds and pictures) to one or more people; and collaborating with someone, one on one, to develop a shared text document. Each will be described below.

Phoning a User
To phone a user, drag the user's name from the user list to the communications button. If the user agrees to talk to you, a phone session will be started. Note that the person who initiates the phone conversation has initial control. You may type in the window when you have control. To relinquish control, click on the Control button in the phone window. If someone is a "control hog" and will not give up control, you can ask for it with the Page button, which beeps the other user to get his or her attention. When you are finished with your conversation, you can click on the Hangup button to end your call. After a call has been completed, both sides receive a transcript of the call in a standard MediaLink text window, which can be saved, printed, or linked.

Answering the Phone
If someone is phoning you, a dialog will pop up asking if you wish to talk to them. To agree to a phone call, select Yes.

Phone Buttons

Sending Resources Over the Network
To send resources to others over the network, highlight the user(s) with which you wish to communicate from the user list. Then drag the users' names to the window that you wish to send. This uses the same "drag and drop" action as normal linking so that if you think of this as linking with other users you will do fine! Movie resources cannot currently be transmitted.

Collaboration
Collaboration allows a simultaneous network editing session in MediaLink. Both users have copies of a text window available for editing, along with a message window for discussion about the editing changes that are taking place.

How To Do Collaboration
Setting up a collaboration session with someone is very similar to transmitting a text document (see "Sending Resources Over the Network"). However, you must hold down the Option key as you drag the name over the text resource window to be transmitted. After collaboration has begun, the other user will see all the changes that the active user makes to the text and to the message window, including text resizing, font changes, scrolling text, etc. After the collaboration is finished and Hangup is pressed, both sides will receive two new text windows, one with the document and one with the messages. As usual, both windows can be saved, printed, or linked.

Collaboration Window

MediaLink User's Guide 36


Original file name: User's Guide 2.1 - converted on Saturday, 5 February 2000, 13:59

This page was created using TextToHTML. TextToHTML is a free software for Macintosh and is (c) 1995,1996 by Kris Coppieters