EPUBs are an experimental feature, and may not work in all readers.

Four years ago the IEEE began to explore ways to publish the multimedia materials that engineers found useful for activities as diverse as representing research data and learning environments. Kenneth R. Laker, then vice president for educational activities and later IEEE president, asked Marion Hagler to lead that exploration. It soon became apparent that IEEE needed a peer-reviewed publication of multimedia learning environments for engineering educators. Such a publication could give academic visibility and credibility to the creative work associated with the preparation of multimedia materials.

CD-ROMs seemed the logical medium. They provide a convenient means of preserving and distributing file content and, in contrast to file servers, require no network connection or continuing maintenance. The realization that Web browsers running on PC, Macintosh and UNIX computers could display de facto Web-standard multimedia file formats written on the CD-ROM elegantly solved the traditional cross-platform incompatibility problem among computers that run different operating systems. Early in 1995, the IEEE Education Society decided to publish a special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education accompanied by a CD-ROM that could be read with a Web browser[1], [2].

A call for contributions to the August 1996 special issue appeared in March 1995. Each contribution, the call specified, would consist of a printed portion and a supplement on the CD-ROM that could include files in standard Web multimedia file formats, as well as executable files and other software. Contributors submitted content for both the printed portion and for the CD-ROM supplement as files on floppy disks.

When the guest editor for the special issue, Marion Hagler, accepted a ten-month temporary position in Japan beginning in October 1995, William Marcy, an associate editor for the special issue, placed all the files on a controlled-access file server in Texas so Hagler could get to them from Japan. The associate editor in charge of the review process, Jerry Yeargan, (1993-94 President of the IEEE Education Society) took advantage of that access to conduct the entire review process electronically. He communicated with the reviewers by e-mail; the reviewers downloaded the files, reviewed them and submitted their reviews by e-mail. Indeed, essentially all communication among the editors, with the reviewers, and with IEEE staff, occurred by e-mail.

During the review process, the editors persuaded every contributor to prepare an HTML version of the printed portion of their contributions for publication on the CD-ROM. Most took advantage of the newly available add-ins that permitted word processors to save their files as HTML documents. When the initial reviews were complete, the editors persuaded all of the authors to submit their revised contributions by file transfer protocol (FTP). By that time, the file server had been reconfigured as a combined FTP/Web controlled-access server that enabled contributors to view their revised contributions on the Web — immediately after uploading them and without intervention of the editors — to ensure that the files displayed correctly. After the contributors were satisfied, they notified the editors that their work was ready for final review and processing. During the final editorial process, editors and contributors continued to communicate with each other by e-mail. Contributors reviewed editorial changes by viewing their contributions on the Web.

In late June 1996, we made the Web site publicly accessible. The August 1996 special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education thus became the first issue of an IEEE Transactions available on-line and accompanied by a CD-ROM. Subscribers paid nothing extra for the August 1996 CD-ROM issue, or subsequent ones. No one has paid for accessing the contents of the CD-ROM on the Web. Because browser software was already widely available for all three major platforms in 1996, neither browser software, nor plug-ins, have been distributed with any of the CD-ROMs. By the time of publication, Ken Laker and Bob Sullivan (1995-96 President of the IEEE Education Society) had arranged crucial support for the project from ten cosponsors. By special arrangement with the IEEE, the CD-ROM contents [formerly at http://www.ece.msstate.edu/~hagler/Aug1996/homepage/index.htm] of the August 1996 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education are still available on the Web. The editors' account of publishing the August 1996 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education is given in the article "The Making of the Special Issue on the Application of Information Technologies to Engineering and Science Education"[2].

The November 1997 and the November 1998 issues of IEEE Transactions on Education exploit the CD-ROM/Web technology in a slightly different way. Only the abstracts of the CD-ROM contributions are printed. The main portion of the contributions appears only on the CD-ROM. Those issues also include the usual number of traditional printed articles. The contributions on the CD-ROM, together with their printed summaries, were termed Rapid Publication Supplements because the CD-ROM can accommodate a larger number of articles than can a typical paper issue, and hence speed publication, and because some in IEEE Publications felt that a CD-ROM supplement to an ordinary printed publication would be more acceptable to libraries than a CD-ROM alone. The idea behind presenting the abstracts in print is that when the issue arrives, users can browse the printed abstracts more quickly than the CD-ROM to determine which contributions they wish to examine in detail. The editors recount their experience in publishing the November 1997 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education in Publication of Archival Journals Accompanied by CD-ROMs [3].

In relating and discussing our experiences in publishing these three issues of the IEEE Transactions on Education in more detail, we focus on four primary functions of archival publication. We consider archival publication to be (a) collecting, (b) reviewing and selecting, (c) distributing, and (d) preserving contributions [1], [2], [3]. We consider electronic publication to be the application of information technologies in those areas.

Collecting Contributions

The center of this process of electronic publication is a Web site that not only provides potential authors with on-line access to detailed descriptions of format requirements and instructions for submission, it also contains the call for contributions. A controlled-access portion of the server housing the site is configured so that it can accept files from authors by FTP. Authors upload files into their designated folder and can view their contributions on the Web, immediately to ensure that everything is in order. When the contribution is ready for review, the author notifies the editor by e-mail.

The electronic approach to soliciting and collecting contributions is especially suited to those educators whose contributions make full use of the opportunities presented by the CD-ROM/Web approach. For example, it gives authors of Web-based learning environments control of how their contributions appear and function on the Web server and maintains their sense of ownership. Authors of less-complex contributions verify placement of figures and equations, as well as internal and external links. Several authors have expressed pleasure and satisfaction with that aspect of the submission process. One author indicated that he disliked a prior electronic-conference submission process in which he was not able to look at the final product before it went to reviewers. With the process we employed, he was confident that everything was where it was supposed to be. Authors who retain a sense of ownership tend to spend the time necessary to conform to the electronic guidelines, and at the same time are happier with the control they have. For that approach to be practical, authors simply must provide their contributions in Web-ready form, and in approximately the specified format.

"The all-electronic reviewing streamlines the review process"

The heavy responsibility on authors to provide Web-ready files raises the concern that that approach to publication disenfranchises large numbers of authors. Fortunately, more powerful software applications for building Web pages and sites are making it easier for authors with a broader range of competence to prepare files in acceptable formats with a reasonable expenditure of effort. The most popular office-software suites already permit word-processing documents, screen presentations, and spreadsheets to be saved directly (with some loss of information and flexibility), as a combination of files with Web-compatible file formats (e.g., HTML, GIF, and JPEG). The impact of the growing availability of those tools was shown between November 1997 and November 1998 in the increased number of properly formatted papers. Several authors struggled to get their papers on the Web server for the 1997 submissions, and in some cases had to resubmit them in order for the reviewers to access them. All of the papers submitted for the 1998 issue, however, were in the proper format, and more of those submissions made full use of the CD-ROM/Web technology.

Microsoft has announced that the next version of Microsoft Office will allow two-way conversion between Web-compatible file formats and its proprietary file formats (e.g., DOC, XL*, and PPT) with no loss of information [4]. Office suites soon should permit everyone who can navigate standard office software to prepare files suitable for electronic publication.

Reviewing and Selecting Contributions

Once the contributions are available on the controlled-access Web server, the editors assign reviewers and communicate with them by e-mail. The reviewers access the contributions via the Web and remit their reviews by e-mail. For the most part, the Web-centric nature of the preferred file formats means that reviewers can be assigned without consideration of the particular operating system they use.

The all-electronic reviewing streamlines the review process by making the contributions immediately accessible for review and by exploiting the convenience of e-mail for communication between reviewers and editors. A reviewer is able to communicate quickly with the associate editor if performing the review will not be possible or will be delayed. Gaining clarification of comments and intent is very convenient as well. During any necessary revision and re-review of the contributions, those same factors, plus the ability of the authors to submit revisions electronically by FTP, save time once again. The net effect is that some contributions received in early May of 1997 appeared in the November 1997 issue. Comparable review time for the papers reviewed and published under the traditional format was on the order of 200 to 400 days.

Reviewers and authors alike seemed to appreciate the speed and convenience of the electronic-review process, even though nagging tardy reviewers was still necessary. Though the review process is electronic, in practice it is not fully paperless. In fact, most reviewers said that they printed the papers for easier reading. Papers that were organized into multiple hyperlinked sections were a greater challenge to read as printed documents, so reviewers often resorted to a combination of paper and Web reviewing. One reviewer was at first confused by a paper that appeared to be just two pages long. He brought the paper up on the screen and hit the print button, not realizing that each section of the paper had to be accessed separately. In another instance a reviewer reported that a figure was not legible. The author was able to correct the problem immediately without slowing the review process for more than a day. Reviewers were particularly pleased at the ability to see specific examples of how Web-based instruction operated in the context of the pedagogy described in the papers. Video clips presented the only technical problem that had no easy solution, because there was no inexpensive software that worked on all platforms.

Distributing Contributions

Once the contributions were revised and re-reviewed, it was a simple matter to remove the access control from the accepted contributions on the Web server so that they became publicly accessible on the Web. At the same time, a CD-ROM was prepared for replication in essence by recording the files from the Web server.

"Many leading-edge developments in engineering education involve the application of information technologies"

With special permission from IEEE Publications, the CD-ROM content of all three CD-ROM issues became publicly accessible on the Web about two months before the CD-ROM and the printed copy were mailed to subscribers. Two months is the approximate time required for IEEE Publications to produce and package the printed copies and CD-ROMs for mailing. That approach to distributing the contributions makes the CD-ROM content available to subscribers at the earliest possible time. For that two-month preview period, the Web version of the journal was available to the general public as well. That proved to be an excellent marketing tool for the IEEE Education Society. Several of the reviewers who were not subscribers said that they were impressed with the quality of the journal and were happy to see the fruits of their labor so quickly. One reviewer even volunteered to become an associate editor!

In the case of contributions that include files for Web-based interactive learning environments, the public version provides the files for the learning environments in a convenient format for adaptation and deployment by others. However, viewing contributions that include large files is much more convenient from the CD-ROM. At least for now, CD-ROMs also constitute a more reliable archive for contributions than Web servers.

Whether users access the contributions on the Web or from the CD-ROM, the direct availability of the files encourages widespread and timely experimentation with new approaches to engineering education, a notable consequence.

Archiving Contributions

Not only does CD-ROM/Web technology expand the media palette available to authors and facilitate distribution, it also provides, for the first time, a practical means of archiving software. Before that recent development, peer-reviewed publication of software was difficult. It remains uncommon. Contributions such as "Educational Java Applets in Solid State Materials," [5]"Mathematica® Assisted Web-based Antenna Education,"[6] and "The Real Experiment eXecution Approach to Networking Courseware," [7] illustrate the capability for archiving and distributing complex interactive educational environments. Specifically, those contributions include Java applets to provide simulations of complex physical phenomena and thereby realize highly interactive learning environments. Publication of those Java applets on the CD-ROM not only preserves them for future study and reconsideration, but also distributes the applets widely for contemporary application.

Particularly for educators in universities, the unavailability of a means for peer-reviewed publication of innovations such as interactive learning environments that involve software is a major disincentive to substantive effort in developing such environments and the software they require. Just as problematic has been the absence of a convenient means of sharing and distributing complex innovations in learning materials based on file types that include not only multimedia and text, but spreadsheets, databases, Java applets and other computational files such as those related to mathematical symbolic manipulation programs. The capabilities of CD-ROM/Web will perhaps have their greatest effect within the engineering field on education. Many leading-edge developments in engineering education involve the application of information technologies to such a degree, and occur at a sufficiently rapid pace, that archiving the developments in electronic form is essential if they are to be given due consideration. The ability to provide serious review, evaluation, dissemination, and preservation of such work is essential if it is to gain sufficient academic credibility to move from the periphery into the mainstream of faculty effort.

Until robust and accessible archiving servers and high-speed access to the Web are commonplace, CD-ROMs provide a convenient means of preserving and distributing the file content of archival journals. Articles in the popular press that express doubt about the reliability of CD-ROMs for storing files longer than perhaps five years have generated concern and controversy [8], [9]. CD-ROM producers contend that the articles mislead and that CD-ROMs, especially those that are generated through mechanical stamping rather than laser writing, are reliable for at least many decades [10]. Claims that stray magnetic fields cause deterioration of CD-ROMs do seem incredible. More worrisome is the question of whether today's CD-ROM readers will become obsolete. Even today we can see the move to DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) drives, and while some come with CD-ROM readers, eventually they will not. That concern is only one factor among many that are stimulating reconsideration of the archiving function as more content is in file format. One possible outcome is a shift in responsibility for archiving publications from libraries to the original publishers of the material.

Electronic Publication and International Participation

"Use of a standard, widely accessible platform was one of the keys to success"

Electronic publication promotes international participation in each fundamental task of archival publishing [11]. Solicitation of contributions via e-mail and the Web reaches authors quickly, independent of their location. The speed and convenience with which contributions can be submitted and verified by authors encourages contributions from around the world. The approach invites international participation in the review process because, by viewing the contributions on the Web and submitting responses to the editors by e-mail, reviewers can conduct and submit their reviews quickly and easily from almost anywhere. Electronic publication allows not only reviewers but editors, too, to be geographically distant from the file server. As already mentioned, the guest editor for the August 1996 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education, worked in Japan. The file server that held the contributions was in the United States. Because the location of the editors is not important, editors from almost any country can participate. Placing the published contributions on the Web makes them available, without mailing delays, promptly almost everywhere.

Mathematics on the Web

Until the recent formal recommendations of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and MathML (Mathematical Markup Language) by the W3 Consortium, the application of CD-ROM/Web technology in engineering has been limited severely by the absence of widely supported standards for incorporating mathematics on the Web [12], [13], [14], [15]. Mathematics, after all, is central to engineering, so limitations in presenting it have significantly discouraged application of CD-ROM/Web technology in engineering. Given that Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 already supports XML to a degree, that both Microsoft and Netscape promise full support for XML in coming browsers, and that MathML requires no special plug-ins for fully compliant XML browsers, it seems that a major impediment to the usefulness of CD-ROM/Web technology in engineering publication is about to disappear. If CD-ROM/Web technology becomes a de facto standard, it can lead, as standards sometimes do, to a firestorm of developments not only in engineering education and engineering education publications, but in engineering publications broadly [15].

Conclusions

The process followed for collecting submissions, reviewing and selecting papers to publish, distributing the finished product, and archiving was quite effective at meeting the goals of electronic publication for the IEEE Transactions on Education. Use of a standard, widely accessible platform was one of the keys to success. The review process was streamlined by making exclusive use of paperless communication between associate editors and reviewers. Authors were able to make speedy revisions and corrections throughout the review process. Both the Web and CD-ROM distribution channels allowed media-rich presentations of the paper contents in a format most useful for adaptation and adoption by the engineering-education community. Availability of those materials offers the possibility of fundamental improvements in educational effectiveness.

There is still some resistance to electronic publication. One author indicated that e-mail notice of the results of the review process was not acceptable for his tenure and promotion files. He needed notification on official letterhead with an original signature. Others have commented that their peers view electronic publication as lesser than traditional formats. One author explained that the rapid review and increased volume of papers published was a sign to his colleagues that the CD-ROM papers had not received the same careful scrutiny as the others. It may take time for the community to gain enough experience with electronic publication to alleviate those concerns. Participation in the process as authors, reviewers, and/or readers may be the best (and only) way to achieve this.

Acknowledgment

The authors are grateful to Kenneth R. Laker for initially suggesting the experimental publication of an archival journal accompanied by a CD-ROM and for his subsequent work and encouragement to that end. The experiments were made possible by the sponsorship of the IEEE Education Society under the leadership of Jerry R. Yeargan, Robert L. Sullivan and Victor K. Schutz. David A. Conner, Shirlene Hagler and Fran Zappulla, in addition to those already mentioned, provided invaluable help and advice. For the first CD-ROM/Web issue published in August 1996, critical financial support came not only from the IEEE Education Society, but also from the IEEE Foundation, the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education, the IEEE Educational Activities Board, the IEEE Computer Society, the IEEE Technical Activities Board, the International Engineering Consortium, the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society, the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, and the IEEE Engineering Management Society.



Marion O. Hagler served as Guest Editor for the August 1996 special issue and as Co-Editor for the Rapid Publication Supplement in the November 1997 and November 1998 issues of the IEEE Transactions on Education. He is P. W. Horn Professor of Electrical Engineering and Senior Associate Dean of Engineering at Texas Tech University. He is a member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) TAB/PAB (Technical Activities Board/Publications Activities Board) Electronic Products Committee. He serves as chair of the Educational Products Committee of the IEEE Educational Activities Board and on the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Education Society. He has served as Chair of the IEEE Awards Board, President of the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association and as Chair of the Steering Committee for the Frontiers in Education Conference. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, the Optical Society of American and the Society for Design and Process Science.

Janet C. Rutledge served as Electronic Review Associate Editor for the Rapid Publication Supplement in the November 1997 and November 1998 issues of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She is a Program Director in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers at the National Science Foundation. She is on leave from her faculty position in the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland. She received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include digital signal processing to enhance speech and audio signals for the hearing impaired. She is on the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Education Society and is a Director of the ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) Educational Research and Methods Division. Dr. Rutledge is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

William M. Marcy served as Multimedia Associate Editor for the August 1996 special issue and as WWW/CD-ROM Associate Editor for the Rapid Publication Supplement in the November 1997 and November 1998 issues of the IEEE Transactions on Education. He is Professor of Computer Science and Interim Dean of the College of Engineering at Texas Tech University. He has extensive experience in developing commercial software and hardware. Recently Dr. Marcy has been exploiting databases as flexible data structures for interactive-multimedia software. As Multimedia Associate Editor for both the August 1996 and the November 1997 issues of the IEEE Transactions on Education, he configured and operated the FTP/WWW servers and produced the CD-ROMs for replication.

Ted E. Batchman has served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Education since 1997. He is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. His personal research interests include optical communication and signal processing devices, submillimeter microwave-measurement devices and fabrication, and fiber-optic sensors and devices. His experience includes: principal investiO7gator on NSF research grants for submillimeter electric- and magnetic-field measurement devices; NASA integrated optical-signal-processing research grants; U.S. Army optical-image-processing research grants; corporate-funded fiber-optic sensor grant; RF-field-focusing surgical tools; semiconductor-circuit modeling and simulation; consultant on electromagnetic interference, illumination, optical-alignment procedures and microwave-radiation effects.

References

    1. Marion O. Hagler, William M. Marcy and Jerry R. Yeargan, "CD-ROM/WWW Technology: A Pragmatic Approach to Cross-Platform Archival Publication," ACM Applied Computing Review 3(2):16-18 (1995).return to textreturn to text

    2. Marion O. Hagler, Jerry R. Yeargan, Kenneth R. Laker, Robert L. Sullivan, and David A. Conner, "The Making of the Special Issue on the Application of Information Technologies to Engineering and Science Education," IEEE Trans. Ed. 39:450-51 (1996). The main contribution appears on the CD-ROM in folder 037.return to textreturn to textreturn to text

    3. Marion O. Hagler, William M. Marcy, Jerry R. Yeargan, Kenneth R. Laker, Janet C. Rutledge, Roblert L. Sullivan, D. A. Conner and Shirlene Hagler "Publication of Archival Journals Accompanied by CD-ROMs," IEEE Trans. Ed. 40: CD-ROM folder 13 (1997).return to textreturn to text

    4. "Microsoft Office Breaks Ground By Adopting HTML Standard as File Format," http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/1997/dec97/htmlpr.asp.return to text

    5. C. R. Wie, "Educational Java Applets in Solid State Materials," IEEE Trans. Ed. 41: CD-ROM folder 14 (1998).return to text

    6. Stephen E. Fisher and Eric Michielssen, "Mathematica® Assisted Web-based Antenna Education," IEEE Trans. Ed. 41: CD-ROM folder 15 (1998).return to text

    7. M. Chirico, F. Giudici, A. Sappia and A. M. Scapolla, "The Real Experiment eXecution Approach to Networking Courseware," IEEE Trans. Ed. 40: CD-ROM folder 15 (November 1997).return to text

    8. L. Tangley, "Whoops, there goes another CD-ROM," U.S. News and World Report, February 16, 1998. [formerly http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/980216/16digi.htm]return to text

    9. M. Stepanek, "From Digits to Dust," Business Week, April 20, 1998.return to text

    10. K. Cochrane, "Special Report: CD Media Longevity Misrepresented in US News & World Report," http://www.cd-info.com/CDIC/Industry/news/media-problem.html.return to text

    11. Marion O. Hagler, "Electronic Publication as a Means of Fostering International Cooperation in Engineering Education," Proc. Int. Conf. on Engr. Educ., Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, August 20-24, 1998.return to text

    12. For information on XML, visit the W3 Consortium pages at http://www.w3.org/XML/.return to text

    13. For information on MathML, visit the W3 Consortium math pages at http://www.w3.org/Math/.return to text

    14. Marion Hagler, "Mathematics and Equations on the WWW," to appear in Proc. 1998 Frontiers in Education Conference, November 4-7, 1998, Tempe, AZ.return to text

    15. Marion O. Hagler, Jerry R. Yeargan, Kenneth R. Laker, Robert L. Sullivan, and David A. Conner, "Standards, the Virtual University and CD-ROM/WWW Technology," 1996 ASEE International Conference Proceedings," CD-ROM, file /PAPERS/HAGLER.PDF.return to textreturn to text