Multi-Media Technologies That Enhance Teaching and Learning at the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, The City University of New York

Here are links that demonstrate the interactive video and audio technologies we are using to improve learning at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are examples from finance, accounting, and economics classes.

The technologies include:

The first examples, Accounting 2101 and Economics 1001, illustrate two different ways we've devised to capture the essence of a lecture. Having lived all our lives immersed in television, it was natural to think that the video standards of television should apply here as well, but that implicit assumption, we discovered, has a major disastrous implication: To achieve TV quality would generally require such huge files that only those few students with very high-speed broadband connections would be able to stream them or download them in a reasonable amount of time. We didn't make any serious headway until we realized that "we're not in the television business, we're in the education business." What's important to students is that they be able to easily hear what is said, read graphs and charts on whiteboards and PowerPoint slides and not be distracted by sound that is out of sync with the video.

The techniques we developed during the taping and editing of the Economics 1001 class gave us the ability to do something that everyone thought was not possible: tape, edit, and put online--in a timely fashion--an intensive MBA Accounting class which took place during our most recent January intersession. This class met for thirteen sessions and each session began at 5:30 pm and ended at 9:30. Except for one class, we had the finished video online by the following afternoon.

We were able to accomplish this by compressing overnight the captured DV footage on two extremely fast Apple G4 computers. The next day one editor was able to edit all four hours and then another assistant put it up on the web.

Accounting 2101 - Financial Accounting - Professor Christine Tan - Spring 2003
(The picture is sharper than in Joyce's class (see below), but the cost is a somewhat larger file size. For 9.5 minutes, the first one is 10.1 MB)

Economics 1001 - Microeconomics - Professor Ted Joyce - Fall 2002
(Each of the movies that make up this lecture has a very low frame rate but not that low that it interferes with the audio or the clarity of the overhead images or PowerPoint slides. 320 x 240 is a large movie size by internet standards, but the files are quite small because of the very powerful compression technology employed and the aforementioned low frame rate.)

The next examples, Finance 9797 and Economics 9705, demonstrate multi-framed websites. The first is from an options markets class given in our executive programs, while the second is a macroeconomics class from our honors MBA program. In both, videos of the lectures appear in the left frame, while in the finance class, synchronized PowerPoint slides appear in the frame on the right.

The second website was our 2001 prototype and it illustrates the use of a number of additional technologies, but it also illustrates how far we've come since then. In the video frame you see we have captioned the professor's speech. Captioning is useful for those with hearing difficulties and for foreign students whose first language is not English. In addition, there are "hot spots" within the video. These hidden triggers , which if selected, bring forth definitions of important macro variables in the frame on the right, which is very useful for students who have difficulties in dealing with how abstract college economics can be. We also employ "text links," i.e., text within the video, which if selected, will open in the frame on the right, a calculus website. (Here a student confused, for example, by a calculus derivation in the video, could be reminded how the calculus rules employed by the professor work.) These text links could also take the student to other additional resources found either on the web or on a CD or to material captured by Mimio, the whiteboard capture tool. Mimio can be used in any number of ways including adding important class material which was inadvertently omitted, as is the case here.

You will also notice that this movie has a large file size but the quality of the video is not nearly as sharp as any of the others on this page. Moreover, two of the embedded links are "dead," as content providers have either moved materials or shut down entirely. This is unfortunate since prior to the first link's death, at the appropriate time a new website opened in the right frame and it contained a java applet. Viewers could interact with it as the professor explained the underlying principles that were "illustrated" by the applet. This prototype site employed an older less flexible technology, one which made it vulnerable to "location changes" such as this one. We now employ a portable technology that isn't location dependent.

Finance 9797 - Options Market Strategies - Professor Avner Wolf - Fall 2002/Spring 2003

Economics 9705 - Managerial Economics - Professor Jeffrey Weiss - Fall 2001

Our newest innovations are in the area of audio. We are using two complementary approaches. The first involves America's favorite music format, mp3. In surveys of our student body we discovered that nearly 35% own mp3 players. Since we use the mp3 codec in creating our lecture movies, it seemed that with a little work we could make available to these students mp3 Lectures. That is, audio only versions of the class lectures. So now when they get tired of listening to music, they can listen to their accounting or their economics teachers on their players. Initial reports indicate that they have been extremely well received.

But it is our SmartStreamed Audio Lectures that we are particularly excited about. Each of these is an audio-only file, but here each has a drop down menu containing essentially the "table of contents" of the audio. And because this file is streamed and not progressively downloaded, a student can jump in a second or two directly to that portion of the lecture that she needs to review. In a downloaded version, she would need to wait until the desired portion downloaded which could take over an hour if she has a 56 K modem.

This approach also has the advantage of having a very low data rate, which gives us the ability to provide service to a formerly unserved group, namely those students who either didn't have the patience to download video files or for whatever reason couldn't: perhaps their parents don't want them tying up the phone for hours at a time. Now this wasn't an easy feat to accomplish as the audio is streamed using what's called "rtsp" -- real time streaming protocol, but the menu can't be so streamed, so it is simultaneously being streamed via "http"--hyper text transfer protocol.

Accounting 2101 - Financial Accounting - mp3 audio Lecture - Professor Christine Tan - Spring 2003
(To listen to this file, select the link. To download the file and play it on your mp3 player, right click and save it to your desktop. The entire lecture is contained in one file, whose size is 26 MB. It can be played on any mp3 music player or on a desktop computer that has a mp3 application.)

Accounting 2101 - Financial Accounting - SmartStreamed Lecture - Professor Christine Tan - Spring 2003
(The data rate is so low it can easily be handled by a 56 K modem. The random access feature combined with "chapter list" provides for efficient targeted listening.)

Bookmark this site and visit us often. We are adding technologies and applications almost on a daily basis. We are currently building test movies with searchable captions and we are testing a revolutionary new chat program, QTChat. Beta versions of each of these programs are available here.

The chat program is remarkable in a number of ways, besides those already mentioned in the introduction. It is so flexible that there will be a separate chat room for each of the movies that make up a typical lecture and the only way a student can enter a particular chat room is by watching the movie that "owns" that particular room. By chatting with each other about the content of a movie, we expect students will become the teachers of their fellow students.

We are in the first week of tests of the chat program and we currently have a chat room for each of the seven movies that make up the first
Lecture of Week 5: Income Determination. Select the link and with the usernames and passwords you recently received, we invite you to participate in the discussion with the students of Professor Weiss' Eco 1002 class.

We are also experimenting with adding a search function to those videos that have been previously been captioned. Obviously being able to search the text is a powerful feature but since the text is linked to the movies, this search function actually searches the movies. So, for example, if a student needs to review the Black and Scholes model in a finance class, she would type "Black" into the search function. This will find all the instances in the movie where the professor discussed this famous model.

Those of us at the Zicklin School who are exploring the possibilities of multimedia in teaching and learning welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. To contact us, email Professor Jeffrey Weiss or his associate, Milena Djibankova, or call 646 312 3476. We look forward hearing from you.


We employ the widely used multimedia architecture QuickTime in its latest incarnation. To get the most from these sites, we have created a QuickTime check page and we ask that you carefully read and follow its instructions. Doing so will make the evaluation of whether you have the correct version of QuickTime on your computer a snap. And if you don't, it carefully guides you through the installation process. It will also check to see if you can receive streaming content behind a firewall. Click here to open the QuickTime check page.