Saturday, 2 July 2011

computer aided learning

Abstract

Cal/multimedia software is used in lots of areas in education the question is do they work over traditional approaches to teaching and do they have pros and cons in their use, and if they do work where Can they be used.

1 Introduction

This part of the report sets out to introduce the concept of computer aided learning, in the terms of what is computer aided learning, when was computer aided learning started, what do people do with it.

This report also sets out the disadvantages and advantages of using such a system.

3 the terms used

Computer aided learning and computer based learning are two terms used in education so what is the difference between these two terms.

Computer aided learning refers to computers enhancing traditional teaching methods like blackboard or Webct where notes and other information about the subject can be published. This is what Wikipedia says about webct, this can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebCT.

“WebCT is an online proprietary virtual learning environment system which is sold to colleges and other institutions and is used extensively in many campuses for e-learning. Instructors can add to their WebCT courses tools such as discussion boards, mail systems and live chat, along with content such as documents and web pages.

WebCT was originally developed at the University of British Columbia by a faculty member in computer science, Murray W. Goldberg.

In 1995 Goldberg began looking at the application of web-based systems to education. His research showed that student satisfaction and academic performance could be improved through the use of a web-based educational resource, or web-based course tools (from which the name WebCT is derived). In order to continue his research he decided to build a system to ease the creation of web-based learning environments. This led to the first version of WebCT in early 1996, first presented at the 5th international World Wide Web conference in Paris during the spring of 1996. In 1997 Goldberg created a company, WebCT Educational Technologies Corporation, a spinoff company of UBC. Goldberg grew the company until 1999, at which point the company served approximately 2 - 3 million students in 30 countries. In mid 1999, WebCT was acquired by ULT (Universal Learning Technology), a Boston-based company headed by Carol Vallone. Ms. Vallone continued to grow the company to the point where it advertised over 10 million student users in 80 countries. Goldberg left as Canadian president of WebCT in 2002. In February 2006, WebCT was acquired by rival Blackboard Inc. As part of the merger terms with Blackboard, the WebCT name will be phased out over time in favor of the Blackboard brand"


In a report entitled “What is Computer Aided Learning” defines computer aided learning as the following, This can be found at http://www.herts.ac.uk/ltdu/learning/whatiscal.pdf

“CAL is an abbreviation of Computer Aided Learning and is one of the most commonly used acronyms within education. It is difficult to say exactly when the term “CAL” was first employed, however since the mid 1980s CAL has been increasingly used to describe the use of technology in teaching. But what exactly does “Computer Aided Learning” refer to?

Well there is, despite the ever increasing interest in the use of technology within education, no clear definition of the term “CAL”.

There are two common contexts of usage: CAL as Computer Based Learning and CAL as Integrative Technology

Under these circumstances, whereby a computer program replaces a specific part or the whole of a lecture course with no provision or support provided from other methods, we are actually encouraging Computer Based Learning (CBL). CBL involves the development of a computer program with no provision, intentional or otherwise, for the re-evaluation of the current methods of teaching and the subject itself. CAL produced under these conditions is actually a computer program whose content consists of little more than lecture notes. Thus Computer Based Learning is exactly that. We are using the medium of the computer as the primary means of knowledge exposition with no support or reference to other methods of instruction – the computer is the sole basis for learning. Under these circumstances where a lecture has either been replaced or added to by a program (i.e. a “bolt on” computer application) which has been developed under a strategy lacking in re-evaluation then only the medium of instruction has changed. The lecturer has simply re-produced their lecture notes and displayed them in another format.”


The above statement seems to be saying that computer based learning can be a part of computer aided learning but the author also says there is no clear definition for computer aided learning, and these terms can be confused as to what term to use.

But lots of papers of the internet use the term computer aided learning to mean computer based learning on such paper is “How will Computer Aided Learning Develop” by Amirhassan Monadjemi et al found at www.cs.bris.ac.uk/~monadjem/cal11.pdf

Where the author talks about a number of computer based learning packages and the author calls then interactive computer aided learning packages and goes on to talk about Declining teachers’ role education, On the other hand on the whole computer based learning is total learning using computers either on the internet or computer packaged based

Wikipedia defines computer based learning as the following, this can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Based_Learning

“computer Based Learning, sometimes abbreviated CBL, refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes. The concept is generally seen as being distinct from the use of computers in ways where learning is at least a peripheral element of the experience (e.g. computer games and web browsing).”

The other computer learning terms used are as follows:-

  • Computer assisted learning – another name for computer aided learning
  • Computer aided assessment – online exams used to test students, but there are disadvantages in doing this.

In article entitled Computer Aided Assessment - the Pros and Cons the author Andrew Oliver highlights these disadvantages and highlights what computer aided assessment is.

This article can be found at http://www.herts.ac.uk/ltdu/learning/caa_procon.htm

“A typical CAA scenario is that of the replacement of a paper-based examination. Here the computer displays a number of questions to which the students respond by entering their answers via the keyboard, (numerical or textual). The students will in effect "log-on" to the system by use of a secure password. The software then stores the student’s answers in a secure file format which is then either forwarded to a central database on the departmental server or straight to the involved lecturer. It is envisaged that the software will possess the capability to determine right answers from. It is envisaged that the software will possess the capability to determine right answers from wrong and the ability to present the results in the appropriate format, i.e. a table.

Ultimately CAA is suited to those question types which require a limited response from the user, i.e. single letter or number entry, click of the mouse etc... Typical examples of traditional CAA questions include multiple choice questions, multiple response questions, gap filling, matching pairs, list ordering, clickable "hot spots" and those questions requiring numerical input, e.g. complex math problems. So it is not well suited to subjects such as the humanities. This limitation raises another point - since CAA is limited to MCQs and the like then it is also confined to "Year 1" type examinations. In other words it does not lend itself to more complex question types found above year 1 such as the essay. In addition some lecturers may have to "convert" existing question types into the MCQ format. This is not only time consuming but also dependent upon acceptance by the exam boards, (some of which view CAA with disdain).

There are also security aspects to consider. It is very difficult to stop one student from glancing at the display of their adjacent companion, (either voluntary or involuntary!). One proposed solution is to vary the sequence which the questions are presented. Another suggests having each alternative machine presenting a different bank of questions which measure the same educational objectives. But this means that the lecturer will have to create double the amount of questions they would normally do for a paper-based examination. In addition the problem is also compounded by the possibility of re-sits! One can overcome this by the use of random factors within the question itself. For example angles, heights or widths can be varied. This would also solve the problem of the lecturer having to rewrite the questions every year. However this requires a considerable degree of programming expertise and time investment which is what CAA is trying to avoid! A large number of questions is also required to prevent banding of results. For example with 10 questions the students will have percentage marks of 0, 10, 20 etc... with no marks in between. In other words there will be no detailed differentiation between students of differing abilities.”

On the other hand computer aided assessment helps when marking exam papers because the system does the marking itself and reduces errors because, People make mistakes, computer aided assessment stops this because the human aspect has been Taken out of the picture.

Cisco qualifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), are tested this way using a series of multiple choice questions

  • E-learning

e-learning can be the same as computer aided learning in that it is an enhancement of the more traditional approach, but can be extended to include multimedia content and in a lot of ways the words e-learning and computer aided learning can be seen as interchangeable, e-learning also includes the pervious word we looked at computer aided assessment or (CAA).

This is what Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia says about e-learning this can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-learning

“E-learning is an all-encompassing term generally used to refer to computer-enhanced learning, although it is often extended to include the use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players. It may include the use of web-based teaching materials and hypermedia in general, multimedia CD-ROMs or web sites, discussion boards, collaborative software, e-mail, blogs, wikis, computer aided assessment, educational animation, simulations, games, learning management software, electronic voting systems and more, with possibly a combination of different methods being used.

Along with the terms learning technology and Educational Technology, the term is generally used to refer to the use of technology in learning in a much broader sense than the computer-based training or Computer Aided Instruction of the 1980s. It is also broader than the terms Online Learning or Online Education which generally refer to purely web-based learning. In cases where mobile technologies are used, the term M-learning has become more common.

E-learning is naturally suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term Blended learning is commonly used.”

4 Advantages and disadvantages of Computer Based Learning

There are many advantages and disadvantages when it comes to computer based learning the most interactive total education on computer, part of computer aided learning, listed below the benefits and disadvantages are highlight.

4.1 Advantages

  • Computer based learning is ideal for distant learning such as the Open University as you don’t need a lot of teacher contact (see e-learning above), this is also good for education in Australia bush or Africa as the countries are big with very little human contact with anyone.
  • The student can learn at their own pace, which is different than the traditional approach where everyone learns together at the same pace which could leave people behind which can be bad if the person has learning difficulties, the traditional approach makes the assumption that everyone is the same, at the same level so everyone has to get to the teaching level, computer based/aided learning can be tailored for the Individual so you can start teaching where they are.
  • The computer systems are sometimes interactive which makes learning fun some people find it easier to learn when the posses of doing so fun as you will see later when we discuss the idea of the new generation brought up on Sesame Street and computer games, sesame street helped children to learn because it was fu
  • Computer based learning generates a positive learning attitudes in students
  • Computer based learning takes less time to do then traditional methods

In the journal Effectiveness of Computer-Based Instruction: An Updated Analysis by Chen-Lin et al the author says this about effect of using computer aided/based learning packages

“Computer based learning produced a small but positive changes in student attitudes toward teaching and computers, and it reduced substantially the amount of time needed for instruction”.

  • Computer based environments are sometimes used to simulate real situations such as operations, earthquakes etc, this is ideal as the student can experience the situations in a safe environment (please see the section later on about computer aided learning in the medical world).
  • Computer based learning applications can have multimedia built in to it so not only can you read the text but you can see videos and hear sounds, so learning new languages such as German etc become easier as you can hear what the word should sound like
  • Programs can be put on to CD-ROM or DVD or internet so people can get hold of the course materials easily

Having said this when you publish on the internet you have to think about people with special needs, the issue of designing for people with special needs is discussed below in an article entitled. Bringing Your WebCT Course into ADA Compliance: Nuts and Bolts Approach by Caroline Gergely et al which can be found at http://booboo.webct.com/2001/papers/Gergely.pdf

“When we put classes online, we generally do so to reach a wider audience. Internet courses open the doors of educational opportunity for many students. However, unless online courses are "universally designed," these doors slam shut to exclude many potential students including individuals with disabilities.

To design for universal access, we must first understand what equipment, or "assistive technology, individuals use to access the Internet. Three examples of how students access the Internet are discussed below to give a representation of the barriers some students with disabilities face.

1. Students who are blind tend to rely on screen reading software. Screen readers are somewhat like having someone read to you who only pronounces things phonetically and has no comprehension of the meaning of words, sentences or graphical layouts. Screen readers simply read text aloud. They don’t read colour, layout, pictures, movies, sound files, animations and so on. It takes time and effort to learn how to use a screen reader. Yet, many students of these students still find that they can only access a limited amount of Web-based course material, or cannot participate in class discussions because they are held in a Java-applet chat room. Universal Design often focuses on making Web sites and courses accessible to the blind student, not because blind students are singled out, but because by solving the riddle of access for a blind student, you will often solve the riddle for most other disabilities, as well as for low technology, and different learning styles. For instance, if you have a text version of a Web site or text equivalents for the visual elements, then people with non-graphical browsers, slow Internet connections, hearing impairments or low English language proficiency will all be relieved of some barriers to the information.

2. Individuals with low vision often use a screen enlargement program. You can replicate this experience by covering _ of your screen. What happens? Do you have difficulty knowing where you are on the screen? How do you find the link you are seeking? Consistent layout and logical organization of material make life much easier for this population. If I know that the navigation bar is always across the top of the page, I can find it more easily. Again, this is helpful for everyone.

3. Individuals with limited upper-body mobility often use alternatives to the traditional mouse: large trackballs, sip-and-puff devices, a head-controlled mouse, etc. In each case, there is more difficulty manoeuvring in tight spaces. If links are placed so close together that they require pinpoint accuracy, it will be very difficult for this individual to access. This can also apply to individuals whose eye-hand coordination is not as fully developed as the average Computer-user.”

These issues are to do with human computer interaction as we need to make software usable by everyone who wants to use the software no one should be left out as no one has the right to say that just because a person has special needs “they can not use our software to help someone to learn” in fact its against the law to under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 services/education sections

But as we have said before it is possible to tailor the systems so that everyone can use them It is also possible to Release systems specially designed for people such as clicker 5 for people with very bad learning difficulties, clicker 5 is a piece of software that generates a story through the use of a clicker pad attached to the computer.

There are also lots of learning aids for people with dyslexia such as mind mapper that helps the person sort out complex stuff such as essays an example of a mind map can be found in the appendices section. There is also software on the market today that can read books.

4.2 Disadvantages

  • You need a computer to use which needs power so not ideal for places with lack of power such as some parts of the third world
  • Computers are expensive so people in the third world, even though those countries are big with very little schools in them, so computer aided learning environments would be ideal would not be able to afford them this creates an digital divide.

Having said this computer aided learning has been widely used in India by using multiple user systems in a presentation called Computer Aided Education in India by Joyojeet Pal the author highlights this; this presentation can be found at http://research.microsoft.com/users/joyojeet/

But the author also highlights that some people not in the best positions next to the mouse, keyboard monitor have a poorest performers, the pictures below from the presentation shows what the situation is like, it is not uncommon for 10 people or more can be using the same machine at once which is a real eye opener in our rich western world that people have lack of resources that we take for granted.

In computer based learning the teacher takes a low profile role in teaching this is high lighted In a journal called “How will Computer Aided Learning Develop” by Amirhassan Monadjemi et al found at http://www.cs.bris.ac.uk/~monadjem/cal11.pdf

The author talks about the decline of the teacher’s role in the idea of using computer based learning or cal systems as the student and the teacher become separated and goes on to quote this

“Declining teachers’ role: The idea of substituting CAL systems instead of teachers is not logical and rational. The human relationship between students and teachers can not be generated by a machine, even the most expert machine of the world. Besides this, even a Nobel prize winner’s lessons are not comparable to a good teacher.”

(Oblinger-Rush ,1997)

Also the author also says that students in schools may develop poor social skills using an computers to learn

You still need a teacher to teach even though you have a computer system has people still need person to person contact.

5 Where is computer aided learning used

Computer aided learning is used in number of applications from medical and engineering to teaching subject such as maths, English, music and other languages such as German in schools.

On the school side the use of computer based learning can much improve learning as we have already look at computer based learning generates a positive learning experience and changes the attitude of students to the subjects.

The book Digital Game-Based Learning by Marc Prensky the author talks about a new generation of people who are brought up on computers and Have never been without a computer and generation brought up on Sesame Street and computer games, have joined learning with fun. This is what the author says about this

“If you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.” Sesame Street held their attention as it taught them, day after day, year after year. How? It entertained them. It was fun.

To a huge, underappreciated extent in our training and education we offer the Games Generations very little worth paying attention to from their perspective, and then we blame them for not paying attention. Many of the people accustomed to the twitch- speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, and quick payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet feel bored by most of today’s approaches to training and learning, well meaning as it may be. And, worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally ignored by education and training.

From years of “new media socialization” and profoundly affecting and changing the generations’ learning styles and abilities, that cry out for new approaches to learning for the Games Generation with a better “fit.” And while certainly not the only way, computer games and video games provide one of the few structures we currently have that is capable of meeting many of the Games Generation’s changing learning needs and requirements. This is the key reason why Digital Game-Based Learning is beginning to emerge and thrive.”

Schools need to use the same style to educate children in the classroom; the use of interactive computer based learning packages does this.

5.1 Medical

Computer aided learning is used a lot in medical applications by teaching medical personnel complex medical procedures without endangering the lives of patients,

computer aided leaning is also used to teach about the human body in a easy to understand way,

In a journal entitled Computer-aided learning in the real world of medical education: does the quality of interaction with the computer affect student learning? by J N Hudson the author says this on reviewing the use of CAL applications in medical education

“Background Computerised learning clearly offers exciting potential for improving student learning, either as an aid to or as a replacement for traditional formats, or for the development of innovative approaches. However, rigorous evaluation of the utility of computer-aided learning (CAL) in enhancing student learning can be difficult. Many studies have compared CAL to more traditional learning formats, but there is little evidence to show which style of CAL leads to the best learning outcomes.

Aim This study aimed to test the hypothesis that a CAL tutorial, in which the learner actively interacts with the computer, will result in superior learning (ability to apply and retain knowledge) to that obtained in more passive CAL formats.

Methods Third year medical undergraduates at Adelaide University, South Australia were randomly assigned to 4 groups. Following a pretest, only students in the 'didactic', 'problem-based' and 'free text' groups had 2 weeks of free access to a neuropathology CAL tutorial in their assigned format. Tutorial access was denied to all students 2 weeks before post-testing. Learning was quantified by comparing the post- to pretest scores for each of the 4 groups.

Results After active interaction with the computer material, students in the free text group demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in their ability to apply and retain knowledge compared to the control group, but no advantage compared to the didactic group.

Conclusions While users of an interactive CAL tutorial demonstrated significant learning gains compared to non-CAL users, these gains were not superior to those achieved from non-interactive CAL. When evaluating education interventions such as CAL packages, it is important to use a valid assessment tool to measure learning.”

Below are some of the application where computer aided learning is being used

A.D.A.M (Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine

a.d.a.m is a database of anatomical images of parts of the body, it also has fully dissectible male and female bodies which give an 3d view of the whole body as well as parts of the body, the program is also Interactive with this program you can have a 3d view of the heart going around on the screen.

The a.d.a.m software also powers Many medial websites.

dental and Orthodontic applications in teaching students about dental operations without using a real person to practice on

Teaching Clinical decision-making for doctors and dentists, this is what E. J. Kay in a journal called “Clinical decision-making - can a computer aided learning package help?” In the British dental journal VOLUME 190, NO. 10, MAY 26 2001 which can be found online at http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v190/n10/full/4801029a.html

“In the ensuing time there is little evidence that any great changes have occurred to review this opinion. Indeed mounting evidence only seems to confirm the lack of a systematic basis underlying the lack of reliability or validity of treatment decisions made by dentists. Bader and Schugars have since suggested that dentists may not use a hypothetico-deductive process for the diagnosis of caries but instead use something like 'illness scripts'.2 In this view treatment criteria used in the clinical setting are viewed as a complex, chaotic and poorly understood (by the dentist involved) use of remembered cues and signs which for one reason or another have relevance to a dentist. Clearly, if this is the case, there is a need for the development of much more formalized 'scripts' for dental restorative treatment.

However, rather than simply trying to 'calibrate' dentists to make treatment decisions according to given formal definitions of what constitutes a condition in need of treatment (which evidence suggests is a tactic that might be doomed to failure) Kay, Silkstone and Worthington adopted a more novel approach. They used a computer aided learning package to encourage the dentists who took part to consider the surrounding issues and the consequences of their treatment decisions. The efficacy of this was tested using the now well worn but immensely valuable set of dental radiographs that Kay generated from extracted teeth which could, after the radiographs were taken, be examined in fine detail to determine their 'true' dental condition. The finding that this intervention failed to improve the reliability and validity of treatment decisions made on the basis of the radiographic evidence is perhaps more indicative of the difficulties involved in trying to rationalize treatment decision making, rather than stemming from the technique of computer aided learning.”

  • teaching Vets how to operate on animals and animal anatomy

  • operation simulations so that students can practice operations without endangering patients lives

applications to teach Pharmacology produces in mixing drugs below are some of the terms used:-

PCCAL (Pharmacy consortium for computer-aided learning) – the group that monitors the use of computer aided learning and gets people to this it.

PharmaCALogy (Pharmacology computer-aided learning) – over all term for what computer aided learning in pharmacology world is called

5.2 museums

Computer aided learning in the terms of interactive displays are used a lot in museums to enhance displays and increase the learning experience of being at the museum.

A manufacturer of interactive displays bluelemon Interactive GmbH says this about them in their guide which can be found at http://www.bluelemon.de/pdf/interactive_displays_e.pdf also there is an example of a interactive display also from this website

“The quality of exhibitions, both temporary and permanent, is judged not only by their contents but increasingly by their methods of presentation and the originality and creativity of their didactic approach. Visitors expect exhibitions to offer a total experience of a distinctive and compelling character. Interactive displays engage and shape visitors' emotions – an added dimension that is consciously appreciated by visitors.

Terminals and interactive presentations exert a strong attraction. They address both existing and new target groups and encourage active involvement. Even complex subject matter can be accessed and understood easily and enjoyably. These innovative forms of presentation are ideally suited to the tasks which museums are set themselves – both today and in the future.

The advantages of interactive displays for exhibition visitors and organisers:

  • visitors have fun discovering even complex subject areas
  • fast orientation, even in large quantities of data
  • multimedia-capable, i.e. including the integration of moving pictures
  • fast and easy updating via the Content Management System
  • simple implementation of multi-language presentations”

6 conclusion

In weighing up if computer aided learning is worth doing we have a problem because on the one hand we have a new generation that will respond better to the interactive style of teaching that computer based learning offers.

This generation was brought up on computer games, MTV, computers and the internet and have not known anything else, this generation is seen as being board with traditional teaching methods, but on the other hand you still need a teacher their to teach social skills or we will have a society of people with no social skills that spend too much time on computers not talking to one another in fact we do already in some aspects of life today.

In subjects of a complex nature such as science and engineering where it is better to see what happens rather than hear or read what happens in a book computer aided learning is a must because people will understand better what is happening.

Education seems to be going on a computer based learning route more and more we need to test out if these methods work or not, we also need a happy medium between the new styles and the traditional approach if computer aided learning/based learning is going to work and bring up well balanced people not people who are fixed to computers all day.

If computer aided/based learning is push forward as the only teaching method then the role of the teacher needs to change to the role of the mentor guiding their students along in their individual learning tasks.

On the whole I think the classroom of tomorrow is very different from the classroom of today, will it be totally computer based, will we still have lectures in universities, we will have to see.

7 Reference

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