Designing Effective Computer-Based Learning Materials

Designing Effective Computer-Based Learning Materials

Mohamed Ally (Athabasca University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch083
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Abstract

This entry begins by discussing the history of computerbased learning (CBL), followed by a description of learning theories and instructional design models that are being used to design CBL materials. The chapter concludes by proposing a model for designing CBL materials. The model proposed is based on current instructional design models but goes beyond these models by suggesting the use of intelligent agents to capitalize on the power of the computer in CBL. Instructors and tutors working in CBL one-to-one environments claim that it takes more time to design, develop, and deliver instruction when compared to face-to-face delivery. The main reason for extra time is the lack of use of the power of the computer in CBL. The author is suggesting the use of intelligent agents in the design, development, and delivery of instructions in CBL. Intelligent agents can be used to conduct learner analysis after interacting with the learner, assemble the content, and prescribe instructional strategies for individual learners after forming a profile of the learner. Intelligent agents can also be used to manage learners’ interaction and participation in the CBL process, freeing the tutor to do other human-related tasks. Wooldridge and Jennings (1995) defined an intelligent agent as a computer system that is capable of flexible autonomous action in order to meet its design objectives.
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Introduction

This entry begins by discussing the history of computer-based learning (CBL), followed by a description of learning theories and instructional design models that are being used to design CBL materials. The chapter concludes by proposing a model for designing CBL materials. The model proposed is based on current instructional design models but goes beyond these models by suggesting the use of intelligent agents to capitalize on the power of the computer in CBL. Instructors and tutors working in CBL one-to-one environments claim that it takes more time to design, develop, and deliver instruction when compared to face-to-face delivery. The main reason for extra time is the lack of use of the power of the computer in CBL. The author is suggesting the use of intelligent agents in the design, development, and delivery of instructions in CBL. Intelligent agents can be used to conduct learner analysis after interacting with the learner, assemble the content, and prescribe instructional strategies for individual learners after forming a profile of the learner. Intelligent agents can also be used to manage learners’ interaction and participation in the CBL process, freeing the tutor to do other human-related tasks. Wooldridge and Jennings (1995) defined an intelligent agent as a computer system that is capable of flexible autonomous action in order to meet its design objectives

Instruction and training are not new to humans; what has changed is the way the training is conducted. During the early ages, experienced family members trained younger individuals in one-to-one coaching and mentoring situations. There were no formal schools or modern technology to deliver the training. Most of the training was done verbally and with technology that was available at the time; for example, information was passed on by using sticks to draw in the sand or writings and drawings on walls with stones. The information was not recorded permanently for learners to refer back to when needed. With the invention of paper and the printing press, information was recorded and then utilized for training. This was followed by the advancement of computer hardware and software, which allowed learning materials to be developed in an electronic format. In the early 1960s, learning materials were designed and developed on mainframe computers to train workers without an instructor being present in a face-to-face mode. In the 1970s, computer-based training systems used minicomputers to train employees in the workplace and students in the education system. Beginning in the 1980s, the microcomputer revolutionized the design and delivery of CBL materials. The microcomputer gave the teacher and the students control of the hardware and the software. The teacher was able to design CBL materials using authoring systems, and students were able to learn when and where they wanted to learn, which improved the effectiveness of CBL. Research studies (Kulik, Kulik, & Shwalb, 1986; Lawson, 1999; Wesley, Krockover, & Hicks, 1985) have concluded that CBL is as effective, and in some cases more effective, than traditional classroom instruction; however, some researchers claim that it is the extra amount of time spent on the design that makes CBL more effective than classroom instruction rather than the technology (Allen, 2003; Clark, 1983, 2001; Kozma, 2001).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer-Based Learning: Use of a computer to deliver instructions to students using a variety of instructional strategies to meet individual students’ needs.

Cognitivism: It is concerned with what the learner is thinking in terms of processing information for storage and retrieval.

Constructivism: Knowledge is constructed by the learner through experiential learning and interactions with the environment and the learner’s personal workspace.

Instructional Design: A systematic approach for designing learning materials based on learning theories and research.

Metacognitive Skills: Learners’ individual skills to assess whether the strategies they are using are effective. Learners use their metacognitive skills to assess their level of achievement, determine alternate strategies, select the most appropriate strategy, and then reassess the level of achievement.

Behaviorism: Learning is seen as a change in behavior. It explains learner behavior in terms of external physical stimuli and responses rather than what the learner is thinking.

Intelligent Agent: A proactive computer system that is capable of flexible autonomous action in order to meet its design objectives set out by the designer.

Training: Improving performance, with the help of coaches and mentors, to reach a specified level of standard to complete a task.

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