Empowering Students in Computer-Supported Education

Empowering Students in Computer-Supported Education

Yongming Shi (University of Tasmania, Australia), Si Fan (University of Tasmania, Australia) and Yun Yue (University of Tasmania, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-074-3.ch017

Abstract

In the past two decades, computers and web-based technologies have created a computer-based focus in the field of education. The computer-supported teaching and learning has revolutionised the concept of education around the world, which creates both opportunities and challenges in the field of education. It is believed that computer-based technologies have developed to augment the traditional learning and teaching at all educational levels. Computer-supported education empowers learners by promoting the notions of learner-centred learning approach, encouraging interactions among students or between students and lecturer, and addressing the individualized learning needs. This chapter explains some important concepts in computer-supported education, and presents the learning theories that underpin this area. Furthermore, it discusses the benefits of web-based technologies for students at various levels and issues that require further research.
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Computers And Education

When discussing about the roles of computer in education, there are many terms which need to be addressed. Some of these terms are overlapping. To begin with, the concept of Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) is one of the important notions in computer-supported education. The notion is also known as computer-mediated learning (CML) or e-learning (Zhang, Zhao, Zhou, & Nunamaker, 2004). CAL includes two components, the computer micro-world and the virtual learning environment. According to Parikh (2003), the computer micro-world refers to a self-contained computer-based learning environment, where students learn according to their own pace by means of a computerised learning system, such as intelligent tutoring systems. On the other hand, a virtual learning environment, as is suggested by Parikh (2003), aims to provide a learning context in which students have much freedom to learn what they want to learn. Combing these two components, CAL brings incredible benefits to learners and education institutions, and also serves to support the traditional classroom-based learning approach (Shanker & Hu, 2008).

Web-based learning (WBL) is another crucial subcomponent of CAL, which can be defined as learning delivered wholly or partly through the Internet or an Intranet (Trombley & Lee, 2002). It is suggested that WBL is one form of e-learning, and involves the internet and web-based technologies to deliver distance education and instructions (Pilgrim & Creek, 1997). For instance, instead of handing out in-class materials face-to-face, instructors can post lecture notes, course information, class schedule and assignment tasks on the course website to assist students’ learning (Parikh, 2003). According to Alessi and Trollip (2001), there are two types of WBL, on-site learning (people learn on campus using Internet resources) and distance learning (people who study off-campus and entirely on-line). As a result, WBL provides opportunities of communicating with both teachers and students, and expands the access of education for learners with different needs. Furthermore, Raisinghani (2003) suggests that WBL has developed itself into a unique culture, which enables students to continue their education at their own will.

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