2.3 Computer Mediated Instruction


Though teachers have used various technologies ever since the invention of the printing press (itself a technology of sorts), it was perhaps not until the eighties that the term Computer Based Learning (CBL), Computer Based Education (CBE), Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and Computer Mediated/Managed Instruction (CMI) all became part of the language of Educational Technology. Though each one of these terms has a slightly different connotation they are by and large referred to the way teachers use the power of the computer for the purpose of teaching and administering learning.

Early interest in the application of computers to education is based on the dual beliefs that instruction adapted to the needs of the learner is desirable, and that computers make this individualization of instruction easier. The machines could do this because of their enormous capacity to store data of individual student's learning progress and use this as a basis to present new learning objects for them to achieve. Scholars were also able to apply sophisticated mathematical models of student learning to help design instructional materials and strategies to achieve a high level of individualisation. Systems like PLATO[1] were already using time-sharing computers to allow large numbers of people to interact with lesson modules created by a programming language called TUTOR[2]. Buttressed on theories of behaviourism[3], by 1973, computers began to be used in drills, skills practice, programmed and dialog tutorials, testing and diagnosis, simulation, gaming, and various forms of information processing, storage, management and display. Computers, in the early days, were not used to enable communication between people. That came later and with that the opportunity to mediate learning using these machines.

In section 2.3 we shall move from looking at the history of computer mediated instruction to now focus on the practical ways computers have been put to use in and out of the classroom to support teaching and enrich learning. This module will be presented in three parts as illustrated in the table below:


Text Resources

Media Resources

Computers and communication

Education for the Information Age - Chapter 7

Network Components

Why use different media/technology for instruction

Instructional Media: Chalkboards to Video - chapter 9

Top 10 Reasons to Use Technology in Education: iPad, Tablet, Computer, Listening Centres

ITC - Understand Integrating Technology In The Classroom - Teacher Professional Development

Considerations and constraints in using technology for instruction

Instructional technology and creativity among university students: The missing link, World Journal on Educational Technology



Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the role of computers in mediating teaching and learning.
  2. Define the purpose and functions of programmes such CMI, CAI, CAL and CBT.
  3. Critically analyse the role of various tools available to instructors.
  4. Describe the benefits derived and the challenges confronted by learners in using computer mediated learning.

[1] PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) was the first computer assisted instruction system originally designed at the University of Illinois.

[2] TUTOR is an authoring language for designing instructional material and was applied to the PLATO systems

[3] See Unit 1.3


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