Monday, February 15, 2010

MDID 3 as a platform for building innovative multimedia applications

This post has originally been published in the February 2010 issue of Images, the newsletter of the VRA.

MDID 3 will feature an updated version of the familiar interface for discovering images, building and presenting slideshows and managing collections. Beyond the familiar, MDID 3 will also serve as a powerful platform for building innovative, web-based multimedia applications. The MDID 3 core stores, manages and delivers data records and media files; web developers will be able to author customized user interfaces to take advantage of specific MDID 3 core functionality.

The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) at James Madison University (JMU) is currently using the MDID 3 platform to power JMUtube, a web application that allows faculty to upload and manage video and audio files for delivery to students through a variety of venues, including class web sites and Blackboard. JMUtube takes advantage of the MDID 3 core to store video and audio files and associated metadata. It also uses MDID 3 to manage user accounts and create thumbnail derivatives for audio and video files. JMUtube users, who for the most part are not teaching with still images and do not need the full functionality of MDID, may not even be aware that they are using an MDID-powered web application.

CIT is also using the MDID 3 platform to create a highly specialized oral history web application for history faculty. All audio files and associated metadata and audio transcripts are stored and managed by the MDID 3 engine. A novel interface allows faculty and students in the history department to synchronize audio time lines with typed transcripts. A web page for each composite record allows users to listen to the audio recording as the transcript automatically scrolls in step with the recording. Such functionality is beyond the scope of the traditional MDID web application, since it is only applicable to a relatively small set of records.

JMUtube and the oral history project exemplify the manner in which MDID can move beyond a single discipline into multiple disciplines. Imaginative faculty and skilled programmers will be able to collaborate to create innovative and useful multimedia applications. Once completed, the applications can be easily shared with other institutions as add-ons to existing MDID 3 installations.