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The user interface and system architecture of a novel interactive shared educational environment (ISEE) are presented. Based on a lightweight infrastructure, ISEE enables relatively low bandwidth network users to share videos as well as text messages. Smartlink is a new concept introduced. Individual information presentation components, like the video player and text chat room, are "smartly" linked together through video timestamps and hyperlinks. A field study related to children book selections using ISEE was conducted. The results indicated that the combination of three information presentation components, including video player with storyboard, shared browser, and text chat room, provided an effective and more comfortable collaboration and learning environment for the given tasks than text reviews or text chat alone or in combination. The video player was the most preferred information component. Text comments in the chat room that did not synchronize with the video content distracted some participants due to limited cognitive capacity. Using smartlink to synchronize various information components or "channels" is our attempt to reduce the user's working memory load in information enriched distance learning environments made possible by digital libraries.
Date of Conference: 27-31 May 2003