Ian Benest: Early online lectures

Dr Ian Benest was a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science until his retirement in 2011. He was an early pioneer of online teaching, developing his "Book Emulator" over many years. 

A picture of Dr Ian Benest

Ian writes:

"My first paper on how the on-line lectures were produced was published in 1991. As I recall the first full module of on-line lectures was available to students in 1995. On-line lectures were narrated slides with animation and sub-titling. It was very much ahead of the game, and even in 2005 in the US the iPAQ implementation went down a storm (apparently).

Much work was done on how to measure quality of on-line lectures (not very visual) and how students would access/search them."

Examples of the output from the Book Emulator, and how it developed from the early 1990s to 2010 can be seen below.

The Book Emulator on The Open University

In 1987, Ian was featured in a television programme broadcast by The Open University, which looked at the future of the printed page.  Here we present an extract from that programme, first broadcast on 7 July 1987, and which is reproduced with the kind permission of The Open University. The video shows Ian demonstrating his Book Emulator software.

The published synopsis for the programme says:

"It commences with a brief history of printing and literacy and then analyses the impact of computers on graphic design. The programme looks in detail at the production of the academic journal BLEND and subsequently the 'Book Emulator' at York University, a computer programme which produces text on the screen with many of the advantages of a conventional book, such as page turning."

A musical tribute

Ian's teaching had a cult following, and was immortalised by this video, produced by a student and featuring some of Ian's teaching set to music. It should be said that Ian was amused by the video!