Our system integrates all tools described in this paper in the same program. Rather than having three different programs, the main program incorporates the Server, Professor and Student modes. All these software tools were integrated into LæProf. The software tools were developed in Borland Pascal V7.0.
Our software tools work with any PC-compatible computer equipped with a mouse and a VESA-compliant Super VGA graphics card (640 pixels wide x 480 pixels high with 256 colours simultaneously); however, to take full advantage of our tools, the students' and professor's computers should be pen-based compatible and powered by batteries to ease note-taking and portability. The memory requirements are quite modest compared to what is required by recent Operating Systems. Pen-based computers must be equipped with a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) slot to allow an Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) to be connected. A PC/TCP V1.09 compatible packet driver, allowing an Ethernet communication, must also be installed in the computers. A large-screen projection system, capable of displaying Super VGA graphics must be connected to the server computer. Computers are attached to each other by cables to form a closed Ethernet LAN or may use wireless communication modules. This requires a sizeable investment from the institution. However, many already have LAN's and projectors installed. With minor modifications, this software could be used in a large-scale network such as a campus Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) or over the Internet where multiple course lectures could be run.
To keep the bandwidth utilization at a minimum, the software tools, the course lecture and associated graphics files are installed on the server, professor and students' computers before the class starts. Only pen strokes, keyboard entries if any, and computer events are being transmitted on the network during a lecture. This way, the system can communicate with sites at a speed as low as 4800 bps. Personal notes written by the professor and the students are saved on their corresponding computers. Pen strokes are saved on disk in a proprietary format; however, a character recognition can be installed on the computers to convert on the fly the pen strokes entered.