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What Is Computer Aided Learning?

Essay by   •  December 24, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,322 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,267 Views

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What is Computer Aided Learning (CAL)?

Definition of CAL .............................................................................................................................................................................1

What CAL is not - CBL! ..................................................................................................................................................................1

CAL as Integrative Technology?.....................................................................................................................................................2

CAL - The Hard Truth of It. ...........................................................................................................................................................3

Definition of CAL

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". It does not refer to a given standardised set of rules, HCI ideals

or generic specification. So in the absence of a type description perhaps we should concern

ourselves less with the meaning of "CAL" but rather with the context in which the term is used.

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

Integrative Technology

What CAL is not - CBL!

In the absence of a classical definition "CAL" has often been used to describe the development

and application of educational technology for a variety of circumstances. From the mid 1980s until

the early 1990s the term CAL was often used to refer to the development of either a single

computer program or a series of programs which replaced the more traditional methods of

instruction, in particular the lecture. This was in fact a natural progression from an early misguided

strategy, propounded by Government literature (for example the pamphlet Higher Education: a

New Framework, 1991), which encouraged through ignorance the development of computer

programs with the explicit aim of replacing current methods as opposed to their incorporation

within the traditional setting together with support to or from existing methods. More attention was

being paid to solving the current staff to student ratio crisis rather than improving the quality of

student education through the re-evaluation of the current methods of instruction. This would have

resulted in a coherent instructional strategy within which CAL would form a part.

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

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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.

However CBL does have its place within the curriculum, mainly as CBL in the classic sense where

lecture notes are displayed in electronic format, e.g. a web page. There are several advantages in

comparison to the more traditional methods, in particular the standard lecture and text book. For

example a web page may be accessed at any time and over any distance; there are no limits over

access unlike a library book; the entire content of the course - the lecturer's perception of the topic

is completely available and the content can be easily modified and updated. However such

advantages are in the main concerned with resources rather than actual learning. Only the fact

that the entire content of the course is presented has a bearing on the quality of learning, however

the communication between tutor and student is one sided with little opportunity for the student to

express their views of the topic.

So learning technology when used in this context is CBL rather than CAL. However is it possible to

change CBL into CAL? The answer is yes. A small step in the right direction is to add some form

of

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