Teacher 2000: A New Tool For Multimedia Teaching of Introductory Business Statistics

Mark Ferris & Don Hardaway
St. Louis University

Journal of Statistics Education v.2, n.1 (1994)

Copyright (c) 1994 by Mark Ferris and Don Hardaway, all rights reserved. This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the authors and advance notification of the editor.

Key Words: Educational innovation; Computer integrated instruction; Multimedia software development; Making Statistics More Effective in Schools of Business.


This article explores the use of multimedia in an introductory business statistics course through a new computer vehicle called Teacher 2000. Traditional educational processes are reviewed and reinterpreted in light of technological advances in computing, video, and software. These advances provide new opportunities to educators. To highlight the potential of a multimedia approach in statistics, an example is developed that explains how professors and students might interact and use this new technology. Software developed by one of the authors is used to showcase multimedia potential.

1. Introduction

1 The rate of technological change in the computer field is breathtaking. The rate of change in the way we teach, however, is much slower. With the widespread introduction of computers, many people expected the educational process to change dramatically. While most schools have ready access to computer labs and many students have personal computers, the educational process has not been fundamentally transformed by the increased access to computers. Most statistics classes in business schools do have a major computer component; however, it is usually in the context of problem solving. We maintain that for the most part we do not teach any differently than we did before the widespread introduction of personal computers.

2 This paper will examine pedagogical issues related to introducing a multimedia approach into the classroom. At present, there are no commercially available multimedia statistical packages which incorporate full motion video. One of the authors has developed a copyrighted multimedia learning shell for use in the classroom that does incorporate full motion video. (Note: Teacher 2000 is a copyrighted technology currently under commercial development with Dryden Press Publishing. Demonstration products are due out the summer of 1994.) This package will be used to highlight multimedia capabilities and examine possible scenarios for the classroom of the future. One purpose of this article is to stimulate a dialogue concerning possible applications and limitations of this new technology in the field of statistics.

2. The Educational Process

3 Today's educational systems use the in-class lecture as the most common format for transferring knowledge. Students and instructor meet and conduct teaching/learning using various methods and visual aids in a designated room at a certain time. Although this method offers the advantage of being able to sequence and augment the textbook material in a live classroom setting, it leaves little time to engage in other learning activities and is constrained logistically. Four ways in which interaction and communication can take place are shown in Table 1. The most common method used today, same time same place (STSP), is the least flexible in terms of logistics and time management. Different time different place (DTDP) offers the most flexibility. Other possibilities include same time different place (STDP) and different time same place (DTSP), both of which offer more flexibility than STSP. This paper will focus on the educational benefits of the DTDP format.

     TABLE 1.  Educational Logistics and Methods
                        Same Place         Different Place
                        (On Campus)        (Off Campus)                       
                        --------------     ----------------  
                        Traditional        Lecture
     Same Time          Classroom          via
     (Live)             Lecture            Teleconferencing
                        (STSP)             (STDP)

                        Lecture            Portable Lecture           
     Different Time     using              using
     (Prerecorded)      Multimedia Lab     Multimedia PC
                        (DTSP)             (DTDP)

4 The new abilities of the new generation of computers make it easier to consider alternatives to the traditional methods and formats used in education. It has already been recognized (Moore 1993) that the judicious use of multimedia can result in educational advantages. Virtually any modern PC can be equipped with the ability to store and present knowledge in the form of text, graphs, pictures, audio and motion video. As this technology evolves, newer model PCs will come standard with these technical abilities, whereas now most PCs except Macintoshes require additional hardware/software to use multimedia to the fullest.

5 To convey a better appreciation for the opportunities afforded by multimedia technology, Section 3 discusses multimedia in general and Section 4 describes "Teacher 2000".

3. New Technology Tools

6 Multimedia software authoring programs offer the opportunity to create information that can include video, audio, pictures, graphics, animation and text in color. An instructor could make available on a PC a video of lectures with reference materials as the primary means of delivering basic concepts and knowledge. This scenario is the primary focus of this paper since it offers the greatest opportunities for reformulating the educational process.

7 Today's multimedia authoring tools provide a rich set of capabilities for the creative development of instructional materials without additional expensive boards. The first product to allow users to play motion video on the PC without any special hardware was the Apple Computer software QuickTime. Although Apple Computer has been the multimedia leader, IBM compatible computers will soon be equipped to handle multimedia programs. Apple's QuickTime technology is being adapted to run on IBM compatible PCs. In addition, Microsoft Corporation has introduced video for Windows, a product similar to QuickTime. The new generation PCs with RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processors will overcome many of the inadequacies of today's processors in terms of processing power. Eventually even the inexpensive PC purchased for home use will possess full multimedia capability. The major publishing companies of higher education materials are pursuing the creation of multimedia versions of their books and materials.

4. Teacher 2000

8 Teacher 2000 is a proprietary multimedia software shell that, once loaded with intellectual material such as the contents of a book and lecture, allows a student to interactively control the viewing of that book and lecture. The PC's screen is divided into three areas, each serving a different purpose (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Figure 1 (30K gif)

The areas are: (1) a lecture window where a video of the lecturer can be viewed, (2) an electronic chalkboard used to display all text, graphs, pictures, animation and additional motion video referred to by the lecturer, and (3) a notes window for taking notes that will be reviewed or addressed at a later session. Teacher 2000 allows the student to view a lecture, stop it at any point, and make notes on points not clearly understood. The student can take as many notes as desired by using the scrolling feature in the notes window. Once the student exits Teacher 2000 an ASCII file is created that can be read by any word-processing package. Another useful feature is the ability to stop the lecture and obtain more information on a topic by clicking the mouse on certain items on the chalkboard, thereby taking advantage of the hypertext ability.

9 This approach allows teachers to off-load the bulk of the lecture material to a computer where the students can review the lectures with supplementary material as many times as needed at their convenience. It further allows the instructor to create much richer and more professional forms of information by using other software packages that include graphics, desktop publishing, photographs and video. Other possibilities include pooling ideas from several instructors, thereby creating a much more complete and standardized presentation of the material.

5. The Use of Multimedia in Statistics

10 To augment the exposition of Teacher 2000 given above, an example specific to business statistics will be explored. Currently, there is a very active debate concerning the content and teaching of introductory statistics classes in business schools as discussed in Easton et. al. (1988). Business school professors from across the country have gathered at the conference Making Statistics More Effective in Schools of Business (MSMESB) to debate what should be taught and how it should be taught. See Roberts (1987) for further discussion of improving business applications in statistical education. There is a call for more participative teaching methods and more emphasis on real world business applications. Part of the debate concerns how to better integrate PC-based statistics packages into the course. Can the development of the multimedia format add to this debate? A multimedia product like Teacher 2000 has the potential to improve both a traditional course and a course geared toward the changes promoted by MSMESB. Let's explore how a multimedia approach could improve a student's learning experience by following a hypothetical student Kathy through a class unit on quality.

11 An individual multimedia session at the computer precedes the action/discussion session, which will involve the entire class. Kathy goes to the multimedia lab the day before the class action/discussion meets. The multimedia session on quality begins with a video lecture on quality that was taped by the instructor and transferred to a CD ROM. Kathy listens to an abbreviated history of quality which covers the quality movement in Japan and the United States. Deming's approach is explored in detail and his 14 points are examined. Several different statistical tools used in the quality movement are presented during the video portion of the session. One of the topics covered is Pareto charts. Kathy is confused by the two different axes on the Pareto diagrams. First she hits the screen rewind and listens twice to the explanation. She still has questions, so she quickly makes notes on what she doesn't understand in the notes window and gets a printed copy for herself. She did not bring her book so she accesses the hypertext window that has the entire chapter on quality from her textbook, and advances to the section on Pareto charts. After reading the section on Pareto charts she is less confused.

12 The video lecture cuts to a local business that is using a Pareto diagram to analyze defects in a production process. Workers and supervisors are seen constructing the chart and interpreting the results. After this section, interactive problems are presented and Kathy is tested to see if she is able to correctly create a Pareto chart from some product defect data. She is successful. Interpretative questions follow and Kathy is unsure about one of the answers. The program responds with a hint and Kathy is able to correctly interpret the results. When she has correctly answered all the questions, she sends a summary of her results electronically to her instructor. In addition, she still has several questions on various topics which she also sends to the instructor electronically.

13 Meanwhile, Professor Alpha is preparing for the action/discussion session that will meet the next day. Professor Alpha reviews all the questions that were submitted by students and identifies the most common. In addition, he reviews the results of the homework sessions to see if the questions asked correspond to the homework results. Based on these data he prepares some additional material for class. He has scheduled a speaker for the first forty-five minutes who is a proponent of statistical process control and who will speak in very general terms about how his company has drastically improved the quality of its products. Afterward, Professor Alpha will cover three questions that came up consistently during his students' multimedia lab sessions. He has also scheduled individual meetings with some students who are having extra difficulties. During the remaining class period, the class will break up into small groups to solve problems that relate to the various quality tools.

14 In the example above, the authors have attempted to portray some of the possibilities and promise of a multimedia approach to an introductory business statistics class. Advantages of a multimedia approach include increased logistic flexibility, greater interactivity, timely and universal feedback on students' state of knowledge, uniformity of lecture content, self-paced learning, and more class time available for activities such as guest speakers, small group projects, and student presentations. The role of the professor in this scenario would expand to that of coach, coordinator, and facilitator, in addition to the more traditional role of subject matter expert and lecturer.

6. Limitations

15 There are several potential disadvantages of a multimedia approach. As with any innovation, there are limitations that exist with product shells like Teacher 2000. Some of the inherent disadvantages of lectures still exist with a multimedia approach. If a lecture is not clear on a certain point, then no amount of rewind-and-review will make the point clearer. Another drawback is that a student has to log his or her questions about the lecture using the note taking feature instead of raising a hand and asking the question when the confusion is first experienced. In addition, unless a school has recently purchased new Apple computers, existing computers would not run multimedia without additional hardware and software. There is also the question of who will package these materials. Ideally publishers would provide them; if each school had to produce its own, it would require additional personnel with expertise in multimedia.

16 Multimedia is not a panacea that will solve all of our educational challenges. Rather it is an emerging technology that can be developed in an effective or ineffective fashion. To create an appropriate approach we should become familiar with its potential. Technology by itself will not solve educational problems; rather the intelligent and creative development of a multimedia approach may provide an alternative method or a supplement for the more effective teaching of statistics.

7. Conclusion

17 Synergistic developments in computers, graphics, and video provides educators with an unusual opportunity to take advantage of technological changes being felt throughout our society. Multimedia provides a delivery system that has the potential to revolutionize our educational process. By taking advantage of powerful computing capabilities through a vehicle like Teacher 2000, a multimedia application in business statistics has enormous appeal. Changes proposed by MSMESB, such as more applications, more graphics, and less probability theory, are tailor-made for an innovative multimedia experiment. Although technology is not a cure-all for what ails us, multimedia provides our profession with some unusual opportunities to make statistics a more enjoyable and interesting course.


The authors are grateful to Tim Votaw and Apple Computer for all of their generous support.


Easton, G., Roberts, H.V., and Tiao, G. (1988), "Making Statistics More Effective in Schools of Business", Journal of Business and Economics Statistics, 6, 247-260.

Moore, David S. (1993), "The Place of Video in New Styles of Teaching and Learning Statistics," The American Statistician, 47, 172-176.

Roberts, H.V. (1987), "Data Analysis for Managers", The American Statistician, 41, 270-278.

Mark Ferris, Ph.D.
St. Louis University
Department of Management and Decision Sciences
St. Louis, MO 63108

Don Hardaway, Ph.D.
St. Louis University
Department of Management and Decision Sciences

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