The Information Revolution

Taking advantage of rapid technological advances, Berkeley is exploring innovative ways to further teaching, research and public service.

The Berkeley Multimedia Research Center is an exciting new program aimed at putting our campus in the forefront of the information revolution by incorporating digital media in research and education.

This interdisciplinary center brings together artists, educators and scientists to develop new technology and applications, and study social issues associated with this technology. The center is working on four specific topic areas: teaching and learning, multimedia authoring, digital libraries, and social and policy issues. The center will explore innovative uses of the Internet in hypermedia document publication (e.g., World Wide Web), distance learning and collaborative computing (e.g., virtual worlds).

Recognizing the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center's tremendous promise for advancing Berkeley's mission, the campus has committed $1.2 million to the center over the next five years. Additional support will be raised in Berkeley's planned capital campaign.

A vital part of the center's research objective is to develop the state-of-the-art infrastructure required to be a leader in multi-media research. The plan is to build a new high-speed broadband services computer network, create and experiment with innovative spaces for teaching, performance, and experimentation, set-up authoring studios capable of producing high quality visual and audio material, and develop large storage systems for digital media source material (e.g., text, images, audio, video and animations).

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.1 million research infrastructure grant to the center to begin the development of the network and storage system. The network will deliver digital media to laboratories, offices and classrooms at over 100 million bits per second. The storage system will have the capacity to store a combination of up to 10,000 hours of video material and 100 million images.

This infrastructure will open up new avenues of research. It will be used to support research on vision algorithms to improve traffic flow on highways, study the effect of technology introduced into classrooms, develop new indexing and searching tools for images and video, and support the publication of multimedia documents that contain animations of scientific phenomena and references to online collections of images of biological specimens.

Other recent initiatives aimed at incorporating technological advances include:

--The new Distance Learning Classroom opens in Dwinelle Hall, using the latest in compressed video technology to enable students to complete specialized courses offered elsewhere without leaving campus, such as an Armenian history class taught by a UCLA professor that was offered in spring 1995.

--Testing begins of two new computerized services that will provide information to students. Bear Facts offers students information about their ever-changing status, including final grades, current GPA, financial aid status, and course enrollment information. DARS, the Degree Audit Reporting System, streamlines the complicated process of determining students' standings in satisfying graduation requirements.

--Another student computing facility opens in the Valley Life Sciences Building, joining facilities in Wheeler, Tolman and Evans that are updated and expanded in 1994-95 as part of the chancellor's initiative to improve undergraduate computing.

--A new Academic Center at the Clark Kerr Campus opens in fall 1995, which includes a 33-workstation computer center and the latest computing tools for students living in this residential program.


Copyright 1995, The Regents of the University of California.
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