Supporting Well-Engineered Web Documentation Development – a Multimedia Software Engineering Approach toward Virtual University Courseware Designs

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Distance learning has become a very important mechanism for virtual university operation. In order to realize such an operation smoothly, it is necessary to consider distance learning from three perspectives: administration, awareness, and assessment. We are currently implementing a virtual university environment according to these guidelines. In this paper, we propose part of such a supporting environment of the Multimedia Macro-University project.1 One of the most important focuses is a Web course development paradigm. Web documents are increasingly playing an important role in our daily life, as the Internet has become a new medium for communication and commerce. On the other hand, software development paradigms were developed to support program construction. However, these traditional paradigms do not completely fit the needs of Web document development due to the following reasons. Firstly, computer programs focus on problem solving, but Web documents focus on information delivery. Secondly, computer programs usually have a fixed size, but this is not true for Web documents, because Web documents are always evolving as if it were a living document. It is therefore necessary to investigate a new software development paradigm for developing Web documents. We propose such a new paradigm and its supporting environment, as well as software testing/metrics mechanisms for Web documents. The Web documents developed using our paradigm are stored in a Web documentation database. From a script description, to its implementation as well as testing records, the database and its interface allow the user to design Web documents as virtual courses to be used in a Web-savvy virtual library. The system is implemented as a three-tier architecture, which runs under MS Windows.

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