Yes, kids, there was educational technology before the web. And it was shiny.
I was reminded of this particular disc and rummaged for it (a thought vector-ish associative trail) from a post by Mike Caulfield mentioning a paleotechnic system called TICCIT.
This was before my time, but when I started as a green horn educational technologist at the Maricopa Community Colleges, there were some grey hairs there that talked about TICCIT (it might have been microTICCIT as Mike suggested in a comment).
What my faint memory cells tell me is that at one time a group of faculty and instructional designers devised a set of English Grammar tutorials aimed at ESL students on a mainframe system, which I thought was TICCIT.
It never got finished.
Then some later, interns at the center I eventually joined, started building this in Authorware. It never got finished.
So when I arrived as the newly minted technologist in 1992, there were two ASU interns working on a HyperCard version of “Learning English Electronically” or “LEE”. I recall the splash screen had some sort of Michelin Man type cartoon character with a computer screen on his belly.
It was a bit of a mess, because there were 22 lessons, and each lesson was several stacks. I was asked to help at some point (probably as I was trying to learn HyperCard) and I sensed it was a mess because code was just copied from one stack to another and was not consistent.
At some point my Director asked me to take over the project (this was way before blogging, so I have no record at all of my process) but having done a few years of HyperCard and getting proficient in it, I had moved on to Macromedia Director. This platform provided not only color but also a more sensible structure of common code to keep things consistent.
The content was created by English faculty at Glendale Community College- I am pretty sure Jane Camp is still teaching there. LEE had 22 lessons
Each one had a consistent structure:
- As a user, you could choose to explore the topic via topical story; the areas were employment, food, health, school, and transportation.
- A short story that demonstrated the grammatical subject. The story was on screen as text, sometimes with images, but also as audio. We had some colleagues at Phoenix College provide us readings and recordings of audio from their sound studio.
- The story was repeated with the grammatical elements highlighted.
- A few more screens provided a summary of the rules, usually as a kind of chart
- Next were interactive exercises — to quote from the web site:
Following the Rules are a variety of exercises, including Multiple Choice, fill in the blank, complete the charts, click to form sentences from words, click and drag sequencing, type complete sentences. Typically each Exercise section contains five different types of questions, each with five different items to complete. For the first four questions, the computer provides simple feedback. In the fifth exercise, you must type write your own sentences using words or concepts covered in the lesson. Since this cannot be appropriately judged by the computer, LEE prints a paper copy that can be handed in to a tutor or an instructor. From each Exercise screen, you can review the rules or jump to any other part of the lesson.
- Then there was an assessment section, similar to the exercises, except there was no feedback. At the end, a student could print out their assessment that could be turned in or given to their tutor/teacher.
There were quite a few parts to this- 22 lessons, each with 5 story modules, a rules one, exercises, and assessment. Plus 22 x 5 x 3-4 sound files for the stories. We provided extra materials, teacher guides, student guides, extra exercises, and the text of all the stories.
Just for grins, I broke out my old iBook to see if LEE still worked (it will only run on Macs running OS9 Classic but supposedly also Windows XP) and made a quick video walking through the lesson on Prepositions:
The first version was finished in 1998; I think we sent 20 copies of the CD to each of the 10 Maricopa colleges. We had sent the disc out for replication, there was a ton of work getting the master ready. I had made the graphic a more simple electronic plug you see on it. I did some updates in 2000.
The LEE web site is offline, but you can find it all in the Internet Archive
I had some crude form system set up so people could request a copy of LEE. It probably emailed someone in the office that would put a disc in an envelope and mail it out (isn’t that quaint). We charged $10 for “materials and handling” to cover the cost of CD duplication. According to the counter left on the site, we sent out over 2300 copies of the CD.
Not massive but no insignificant.
LEE is pretty simple — mostly drill and practice and not really anything flashy, but it did get a ton of use internally and maybe externally. It was perhaps the closest I got to publishing software and was a big production for me as a one person development shop.
By the time we were mostly shipping out discs (2000) I was well immersed and focused on the web as the platform I wanted to be on. Besides a foray with Director MultiUser Server (I built a multiplayer game based on the ideal gas law) LEE was also the last thing of significance I created with Director.
Yes, it was all web all the time.