Technical Specifications

Before moving on to my prospectus, I think it’s a good idea to outline all the technological needs for the interactive textbook.

The interactive textbook is meant to run on multiple platforms including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Displaying its flexibility would be beneficial to my eventual presentation at the end of my final semester, so I plan to utilise a Windows PC, an Apple iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone to demonstrate the application.

Being an AIR application, it is primarily scripted in ActionScript 3.0 and developed in Flash, which I am proficient and should have no major issues executing.

As the application is meant to run on multiple platforms, the interface design needs to be reactive, so positioning of UI elements needs to be done through script based on the stage width and height.

Also, most of the content for the interactive textbook will be hosted online in a single XML document. This makes it easy to update the content as you just have to change the XML document which is downloaded every time the application is launched and has an Internet connection. The content is then saved locally on the device being used. If there is no Internet connection, the application will display the last saved version of the content.

3rd Party Content
Including extra content is essential to the concept of my project. YouTube, Google Images, and social media need to be integrated directly into the application, utilising their APIs, through my AS3 scripting. As these are features I’m not currently adept with, below are tutorials demonstrating how to achieve these results:

Technological Specifications Function Model (to be refined)

Response to Guest Critique

After refining the direction and specifics of the interactive textbook, a critique session with a guest brought up a number of issues and perspectives that should be considered.

Primary Concern
The primary concern for my project is its extensive scope. Scaling down or removing certain features would make the project more viable and allow for more focus on the individual elements. The current tools that need to be developed are:

  • Dynamic loading from server
  • Saving / highlighting
  • YouTube / Google / Wikipedia
  • Exploration / assessment instruction
  • Achievements / milestones / secrets
  • Social media integration
  • Electronic medium

Some of these are essential to reaching certain objectives and others do not require much effort to include. The most difficult feature is the integration of 3rd party content from YouTube, Google, and Wikipedia. The least important feature is the saving and highlighting ability to customise content presentation. Removing the customisation feature would neglect its purpose as a personalised teaching tool for educators, but maybe that isn’t really the main focus of my project anyway? I should probably remove it from the main project outline until the project is complete. If there is ample time during the development phase I will return to it.

Perspectives & Considerations
A point of view encompassing the entire project relates to the sense of authority of a book. Would students respect the dynamic and digital medium enough to consider it a serious source of academic learning? It’s no question that books are stable; they represent confirmed information and practiced knowledge. However, in more recent times, with the amount of information being doubled faster each day, books often become inaccurate or obsolete. Modern generations are becoming wary of books, especially when using one as a single source of information, what with all the propaganda and biased views being published in Malaysia. Information from the Internet isn’t very reliable either, but I personally find that with good critical thinking skills and the right amount of skepticism, learning from the Internet can be far more accurate, recent, and varied.

On the issue of too much knowledge causing depression in individuals, although this is true in extreme cases such as mathematical geniuses, it is no excuse for limiting knowledge acquisition. Ignorance is bliss, true but still no virtue.

Finally, in the cases where I bring my opinions into my reasoning, I am very careful not to be biased. It is important to not allow opinions affect results, but questions and thoughts are what lead to new information. The scientific method requires opinion. It begins with an observation, such as mine of the lacking education system in Malaysia and the rise of digital media as a learning tool. Then we hypothesise, or rather, guess, which is where my opinion that incorporating digital media in schools will be a benefit to education, these are my opinions. Then we deduce the implications of the hypothesis, such as access to digital media and the Internet widening the scope of topics, developing cognitive abilities and critical thinking, etc. Finally, we test or research existing tests, and if the results differ from the hypothesis, we change the hypothesis to fit the results, not the other way round.

Relation of Elements

After receiving feedback for project 1 (the Statement of Intent and this Study Blog), it appears that a number of things aren’t clear with the direction and concept of my project. This post will clarify these elements and their relation to each other.


Creator side
There are a number of concepts and points of the project that are based solely on the side of the creator and educators. These guide the direction and objective of the project but are not directly accessible from the user’s perspective.

  • Changing core of education, RRR -> reading comprehension, information search and retrieval (self-learning), and critical thinking (cognitive development)
  • Problems with current education, static, outdated, inaccurate, and not environmental
  • 3 theories

User side
From the user’s perspective, the experience is key. These elements are guided by the creator side elements but have been translated into a consumable format.

  • The interactive textbook will be a multi-platform application that will run on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices running Android and IOS. This is possible because it will be an Adobe AIR application that is easily translated onto multiple platforms. It will be used by teachers and students in different ways and have a number of very specific functions to solve specific problems as listed below.
  • These functions were defined due to them solving certain problems and also based on the concept of changing the core of education and the 3 theories guiding the project.
    • dynamic loading of content for easy updating
    • saving/highlighting (REMOVED) of content to personalise learning experiences
    • integrated YouTube, Google, Wikipedia videos and information based on chapter topics
    • content exploration & information accuracy assessment methods
    • milestones & secrets based on fun theory to encourage learning
    • social integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Function model
This function model demonstrate the relation of all the defined elements of the project.

Brief User Experience

Sweii asked me to briefly describe what the user experience of my interactive textbook will be in 3 words and then to describe it in a single sentence which I will assume is within tweet length (140 characters).

3 Words

  • Fun – To motivate and interest.
  • Convenient – Effort is not attractive.
  • Useful – Automatically helps and improves.

1 Sentence

  • An interactive, dynamic content presenter that improves the learning experience, encouraging self learning and expands the scope of topics.

Additionally, key features of the interactive textbook were listed in the ‘Form’ section of the statement of intent. They have been slightly modified, so I will list them again here.

  • dynamic loading of content for easy updating
  • saving/highlighting of content to personalise learning experiences
  • integrated YouTube, Google, Wikipedia videos and information based on chapter topics
  • content exploration & information accuracy assessment methods
  • milestones & secrets based on fun theory to encourage learning
  • social integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Statement of Intent


The main idea was to revolutionise high school classrooms; to exhibit a sort of ‘Classroom of Tomorrow’ but with technology available today. Secondary level education today, privatised or government, is severely lacking. I am proposing that a refocusing of the core components of education, with the integration of useful interactive digital media tools, can greatly enhance the learning experience and performance of students and teachers. 3 key elements of the high school environment are the textbook, the blackboard, and a communication system between students, teachers, and parents. Transforming these into dynamic, progressive, and easily utilised digital tools will help bring schools into the modern age.

As this scale is too large and unfocused, I decided to funnel my efforts into producing what I consider most important. That is, how can I create a dynamic, interactive textbook that cultivates cognitive development and self-teaching methods among high school students? The interactive textbook needs to be easy and fun to use with features that will interest generations born into the 21st century. Using theories and understandings such as fun theory, distributed cognition, and socially mediated cognitive development will help guide me in ensuring the textbook functions as intended and is actually a useful tool.

This project is embedded in education, teaching, and learning methods. The interactive textbook is a new kind of educational software, a powerful and versatile educational tool that will be easily adopted by students who have access to computing devices.

The interactive textbook will be an AIR application that runs on desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile devices, connected to the Internet to access hosted XML documents that contain all the content for the textbook, but will function offline as well by occasionally saving the data locally. For the purposes of my final project, I will limit the content presented to the transformation of a single high school textbook, most likely a year 11 science textbook as it is a core subject in any education system and often is considered a boring topic. The content will be the same, but with the addition of tools and functions such as:

  • dynamic loading of content for easy updating
  • saving/highlighting of content to personalise learning experiences
  • integrated YouTube videos based on chapter topics
  • access to search engine features such as Google images
  • additional information via Wikipedia
  • fun theory based tasks with milestones to encourage learning
  • and social integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Target Audience
The application’s target is 2 fold. First, it is a useful learning tool for tech savvy high school students, aged 13-17. Second, it is a tool that teachers can use to improve their lessons. The target market would mostly be in urban areas, but any area or school equipped with computers and an internet connection can utilise the interactive textbook. Marketing wise, it would be promoted to school administrations, and perhaps even the Ministry of Education, to consider implementing it in schools nationwide.

Existing Skills & Knowledge
The construction of the interactive textbook will require a strong proficiency with Actionscript 3.0 and some knowledge of website construction that includes HTML, CSS, XML, and PHP scripting. These are areas that I specialise in and have significant experience working with, so I should not encounter any technical problems when it comes to these. As for the subject matter, I come from a family of educators and have a firm grasp on the purpose and problems of education. I will be able to consult with experienced teachers as my project develops, allowing me to solve some of the problems of an outdated education system.

New Skills & Knowledge
Elements that I am not experienced with is integration of 3rd party APIs. Linking the interactive textbook with YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook is something I have to learn. Twitter, however, I have already experimented with and should not be a problem. Academics is also a new area for me. Because education is such a vast topic, there are innumerable theories, concepts, methods, and experiments that I have yet to study and discover.

Degree Essay Relation
“Exploring interactive digital media’s ability to enhance the learning experience of secondary level students today”. This is the research question that I am pursuing for my degree essay and it carries over to my final project. Although not as specific as my degree essay, the interactive textbook can share some of the academic findings and resources I discover during my research processes. It will be strongly supported by my degree essay but will still require substantial research on its own as the essay does not cover all topics.

Complete Poster

The 54321 Poster

Comments from classmates:
Trina Tay
‎- Yes, to improve the teaching education skill today, students get excited of study/learn stuff, self independent
- Maybe? A bit too much, doing 3 stuffs (textbook,blackboard,network).
As he mentioned he will focus one(textbook) in case of not enough time. For sure, if one he can done on time, he already understand using what software and program to do it.
- No

Cheryl Teh
1. Yes, Motivational, engaging, multimedia classroom
2. Yes if you choose only one of the ideas and make a really improved version. I prefer textbook/blackboard
3. Sorry forgot to ask: What level of examination that students recently failed? Malaysia education system or general education system?

Verny Wong
1. nice explanation and wide range of the presentation but I am not sure what he changes I can imagine but maybe thats the way?
2. it really seems a lot to work , if its more focused down to one is better?
3. I have seen newspaper that number of students passing in exam increases but you said more fails, so I think theres a need for research to support the idea.

Li Wei Lim
1.simulation of classroom for high school students? using digital platforms (digital textbook) instead of using the traditional media such as printed books. It would be boring if there are only texts.
2.yes? but there will be too many information/things/data to be collected

Bubu Yiin
‎1) Yes. It clearly explained
2) Yes. He did mention that if the duration not allow, he might focus on one.
3) Suggestion resource: A Theory of Learning for the mobile age
It talking about mobility learning.

Kar Yann Ha
‎1. Yes, self-learning education with modern technologies.
2. Not sure, has not decided properly which sections he proposed to focus on.
3. Is there any specific learning pattern to be applied for each subjects when learning in a technological environment?

Aiseu Lee
Good flow in using existing examples to relate back to own project. I can’t really imagine how the project is going to look like because there is too many sub projects he wants to cover. What is platform? What form?————If working on…See more

Wan Zhen Lum
1. Yes, it was clearly explained with sources and examples.
2. Yes, he showed that he was aware that he might not be able to do all and would only narrow it down to one are which would be doable, for the time frame and skills at hand now.
3. No.

Loo Yi Hou
they create this social media cube for children… hope its helpful~

Kevyn Leong
‎- Yes.
- Yes, viable depending on scale. May be possible.
- No.

Sour Ice-cream
‎1. Yes, the project is very well define. In addition, the poster is very well done.
2. Yes, because he has suggested 3 solutions and if there’s not enough time for the all, he would choose and focus on the 1st solution.
3. No.

Wee Nee
‎1.) It is clear and i’m able to understand the message that is delivered by the poster. The details are explained well.
2.) 3 big ideas, by the time given, as he mentioned probably only 1 idea could be done. If Zak is fast in progress it wouldn’t be a problem because he has the skills in doing all 3 ideas.

Dissertation Proposal

As encouraged, this project is progressing in tandem with my chosen topic for my dissertation this semester. Earlier today we submitted our proposal for our essay and I thought it would be a good idea to post my progress of that here too.

Proposed topic
Secondary education in Malaysian government schools is primitive and does not exploit technological advances over the past decade. This prevents teachers from focussing on higher order tasks and students from reaching their maximum potential by being prepared for the 21st century. I want to explore the possibilities of interactive digital media and its ability to enhance the learning experience of students today.

Scope of enquiry
Education has a never-ending list of problems and areas of exploration, so focus is key. I have decided to narrow my scope to Malaysian secondary level government school classrooms in urban areas and interactive digital media technologies that exist and can be implemented practically today such as Flash.

Proposed research question
Exploring interactive digital media’s ability to enhance the learning experience of secondary level students today.

Relevance of enquiry to personal practice
My ideal final project would be a classroom of the future, but with technology and methods that are available today. Going through the academic process of researching and writing a dissertation on the proposed question would provide me with invaluable information and experience. This will prepare me not only for my final project, but also for future endeavours as I venture further into my shifting career path. It will help put my ideas into practical perspectives and I will not be hindered by ignorance of the education industry.

Proposed enquiry outcomes
I plan for my enquiries to lead me to define the problems of secondary level government school classrooms in Malaysia. I also intend to discover theories and academic studies that will improve my understanding of education and the benefits and detriments interactive digital media may have on the teaching and learning experience for secondary level students compared to today’s methods.

Assessment of feasibility
Although challenging the well-established norms of education is a complicated task, it is an area in need of change. Narrowing my scope will allow me to focus on specifics and make it possible to come to solid conclusions. Over the past few years, there have been efforts made to reform standard education methods and this has led to the production of numerous academic sources and existing projects that can serve as sources and examples. In addition, pursuing this topic does not require anything extravagant or implausible, as in, contacting relevant parties such as teachers is possible, research sources are readily available, and it does not include any kind of exorbitant expense. One issue may arise due to the age group of secondary students. Being under 18, I may need to interact with minors, I may also need to interview teachers if sufficient information cannot be sourced, which will require me to get ethical permission from The University of Hertfordshire.

Primary research and enquiry will run from 5th June until 19th June. This includes reading research materials, interviews, analysis, and sourcing any further information available.

A skeleton based on research outcomes will be prepared by the 3rd of July. This skeleton will outline the content that I intend to discuss and explore within the essay and critique from this will help me focus on what is important.

The first draft will be prepared by the 24th of July. This will be a partially complete essay, incomplete, in terms of language and content. Critique from this draft will be used to enhance the essay.

The second draft will be presented on the 7th of August. At this point the essay is practically complete and can be submitted, however, it may still contain flaws and can be improved.

I will have a final check on the 21st of August to ensure everything is in order and my essay is as perfected as it can be.

Finished essay submission on Tuesday, 28th August 2012.

List of initial sources
Blasik, K., Williams, R. G., Johnson, J., & Boegli, D. R. (2003) ‘The Marriage of Rigorous Academics and Technical Instruction with State-of-the-Art Technology: A Success Story of the William T. McFatter Technical High School’. The High School Journal. 87(2). pp. 44-55.
[A success story of a new technical high school that prioritises smaller but more computer-oriented classes.]

Denner, J., Werner, L., Bean, S., & Campe, S. (2005) ‘The Girls Creating Games Program: Strategies for Engaging Middle-School Girls in Information Technology’. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 26(1). pp. 90-98.
[Exploration of video game related activity as a gateway to higher technological competence amongst females.]

Dye, J. F. (2003) ‘From Values Based on Simplicity and Standardization Toward the Realities Found In Complexity and Contingency: A Particular View for High School During the 21st Century’. The High School Journal. 87(2). pp. 1-6.
[Exploring problems with the current concept of school and the benefits of reformation.]

Li, X., Atkins, M. S., & Stanton, B. (2006) ‘Effects of Home and School Computer Use on School Readiness and Cognitive Development Among Head Start Children: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial’. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. 52(2). pp. 239-263.
[This study includes the effects of early computer use by children on their cognitive and psychomotor skills.]

Liu, C. C., Chou, C. C., Liu, B. J., & Yang, Y. W. (2006) ‘Improving Mathematics Teaching and Learning Experiences for Hard of Hearing Students With Wireless Technology-Enhanced Classrooms’. American Annals of the Deaf. 151(3). pp. 345-355.
[A paper on how wireless technology improves disabled children’s learning experience.]

Williams, T. (2009) ‘Multimedia Learning Gets Medieval’. Pedagogy. 9(1). pp. 77-95.
[How multimedia can improve the communication of classic literature to modern generations.]

Objective of the Project

The education system of today was forged by the economic and political environment of the industrial revolution. For 200 years, this method has barely changed, but the world has reached a point where the incompatibility is apparent.

Traditional education is founded on the 3 Rs:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Arithmatic

Though as society, technology, and industry progress, certain skills become obsolete. I propose a refocusing of the purpose of education for the current and coming generation:

  • Reading comprehension – For a generation that will read off of screens.
  • Information search & retrieval – For independent learning and collaborative research.
  • Critical thinking – To learn what and how to trust and question information.

Current theories (more to come) that I have discovered that directly relate to the reformation of education are:

  • Fun Theory – The problem with education is that it is undesirable. Children can play a video game for hours, why can’t they for learning?
  • Distributed Cognition – Enhancing education techniques requires new methods. Tools, devices, and software that assist in learning processes and cognitive development will benefit students.

The outcome of my final project should cater to the objectives of future learning and be possible with the technology available today. I have decided to improve upon the standard government secondary school classroom and 3 major points of interest are:

  • The textbook – is static, outdated, inaccurate, and not environmental. A dynamic interactive digital textbook that encourages discovery and self learning.
  • The blackboard – is limited, slow, and not engaging. An interactive interface that allows for greater levels of demonstration and presentation.
  • The network – is non-existent. A communication network that allows better relationships between students, teachers, and parents.

Here’s a video that expresses my dreams of Future Learning:

I would love to be able to execute all 3 projects and present them as an exhibition at the end, but I’m not sure if it’s possible with the time given. In the coming weeks I will clearly define each project and produce realistic timelines to see if I can pull it off by myself.

The 5 4 3 2 1 Poster

To make sure we’re on the right track and not being silly, there is an exercise to summarise our initial idea into a single poster. As a guide, there are certain requirements.

The poster needs to be 1280 x 1024 pixels, saved as 60% compressed jpg, including:

5 similar things to what you are thinking about – both direct and indirect associations, name them, show their covers, or an image from them, you are saying ‘It will be like this…’
- Qwiki
- Scale of the Universe
- Microsoft 2019 Vision
- Unreal Engine Solar System
- Physical Learning
- Dynamic Textbook
- Gaming as Education
*Find these on my Inspiration page.

4 sources of inspiration (music, poetry, film, game, novel) that are in play when you think about this idea
- Future Learning
- House of the Future
- RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms
- Shift Happens: Education 3.0
- Video Game High School
*Find these on my Inspiration page.

3 ‘heroes’ who you associate with the work you are doing
- Ken Robinson
- John Hattie
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Bill Nye The Science Guy
*Find these on my Heroes page.

2 ‘theories’ that are of relevance
- Distributed Cognition
- Fun Theory

1 ‘issue’ you are aware of that will be involved in the making…. (skills, knowledge, resources..)
- Keeping the scope focused with so many problems
- Not being blinded by passion (Keep asking others for objective evaluation of progress)
- Making sure my project actually works and relates to Malaysian education

Get it all nice and pretty by 10.00am on Thursday 7th June 2012. I’ve managed to find all the things I need and I’m quite happy with what I got actually =D time to analyse and study!

The Beginning

Welcome to my (Zakhren) blog which will document my progress through the Multimedia Project Planning module eventually leading to my brilliant final project. I’ve started this blog because we’re forced to! As an overview, this module is split to 2 parts.

The first runs through this sem starting in May 2012 and has 2 major requirements:
- a Study Blog (which is what you’re reading now)
- a Statement of Intent (I quote, “3 pieces A4 sheet, to a pro forma layout, which works as a ‘cultural map’ locating your planned project.”)

By the 21st of June I will have to submit this blog to be gawked at by the higher powers, so hopefully my sacrifice pleases.