The Universal Media Player (UMP) is a resizable component that plays swf, flv, mp3, and jpg files in a single interface, along with closed captions and markers for notes and questions associated with the media. Apart from the UMP, the project required building a file browser to display all media for a project and providing a way to organize and rename media. In addition, annotations and short descriptions can be written for the media, along with questions and answers. The publisher controls the color of every element in the interface via an xml file. There are three modes for using the UMP, depending on project and user type: 1) Authoring mode is for course instructors who can create projects, annotations, and questions; 2) Viewing mode is for students to view media and annotations associated with a project and to answer questions created by the instructor; 3) Simple mode loads a single media file, and displays a subset of the data accessible in viewing mode.
Authoring mode:
authoring starts with project selectionThe first screen in authoring mode is the project selection screen. Project names are fed to a list via PHP.
UMP authoring interfaceOnce the project has been selected, the authoring interface loads. The project contains a project name, a media browser and notes pane, the universal media player, and an expanded timeline panel.
project titles are editableProject titles become editable textfields when double-clicked.
selecting a menu item enables relevant menu controls Selecting a menu item enables relevant menu controls. The initial menu is a flat list of media associated with the project. Menu items may be renamed and organized in folders. If new media is added to the project after the menu has been organized, the new media appears at the top of the menu. Any media deleted from the project after menu creation will no longer appear in the menu.
renaming media follows operating system rules Renaming and opening items in the menu follows operating system rules. Clicking and pressing enter allows renaming, as does clicking on a selected item. Double-clicking a folder will toggle it open or shut, and double-clicking a media file opens it for annotation and viewing in the UMP.
When media loads in authoring mode, the UMP updates with any annotations, the notes pane receives focus in place of the file browser, and the timeline panel shows the placement of notes, closed captions, and questions for the media file.
universal media player with annotated mediaWhen annotated media loads into the UMP, the media title appears at the top of the UMP. A short, editable description appears in the viewer window. If the media has closed captions, then the closed caption pane opens with captions. In authoring mode, all controls are disabled until the file downloads completely. A progress bar indicates download status. In the progress bar, thin lines indicate the location and duration of notes, and flags indicate questions. The UMP can be maximized to play the Flash video at double-size. In authoring mode, closed captions may be input directly into the closed captions pane. Closed captions can be toggled on or off, and volume is controllable by the user. Media can be of type .flv, .swf, .mp3, or .jpg.
rich text notesThe author annotates media in the notes pane. The notes are a rich text format that accommodates bold, italic, bold italic, and hyperlinked text. The author establishes start and stop times for notes in the timeline panel. Notes appear automatically during media playback.
question builder interfaceQuestions are grouped into sets for a given time. A question may be either short answer or multiple choice. The author chooses the number of multiple choice options, the number and order of questions within a question set, and the time that the question set appears.
timeline panel with media loadedThe timeline panel allows the author to navigate media by dragging the playhead, clicking in the timeline, pausing and playing, and by skipping forward and back frame-by-frame (.swf), or in one second increments (.flv and .mp3). The timeline is divided into three sections with bars to indicate the location and duration of notes, closed captions, and questions. Start and stop times for notes and closed captions are established by entering timecode. Questions are single-frame events that pause media playback while the student answers questions. Closed captions for the media can be typed into the UMP, or they can be imported from a standard .cc file, which is parsed in Flash and saved out as XML.
Viewing and Simple modes:
viewing mode interfaceThe viewing interface does not have the expanded timeline panel. There is a home button to clear any loaded media files from the UMP and a help button. The interfaces for viewing, authoring, and simple modes build themselves from a single swf based on user information fed to flash from PHP. The simple interface consists of the UMP only with no title bar, menu, or notes pane.
UMP in viewing modeIn viewing mode, a single click of a menu item loads media into the UMP. Playback begins as soon as enough of the file has downloaded. The user may click the envelope icon at any time to email his answers to the instructor.
answer panelQuestion sets appear at the appropriate time and playback pauses while the student answers. When the student answers the final question for the media, an icon appears in the answer pane for the student to email his answers to the instructor.
review panelStudents have an opportunity to review their answers before completing the rest of the wizard to submit their answers.