Learning Through Computer Interaction Essay Research Paper

Learning Through Computer Interaction Essay, Research Paper

Learning Through Computer Interaction

Learning and Memory

We are one the brink of a major revolution in means of learning. Very few people understand what is about to happen. Even most professional educators are still unaware of the implications that human-computer interaction has on learning. The revolution will occur within the next 10 years and will affect out educational system at all


This revolution in the way people learn will be based on the technology of the digital computer. Learning media from other aspects of modern technology will also figure significantly.

A brief review of the history of learning will help explain the situation. The earliest humans learned primarily through experience and interaction with other humans. Until recently in human history, and even now in early childhood, this has been the principal learning


In classical Greece, several new learning modes became prominent. One of these was based on the technology of writing, which was already well developed in Greece. The Greeks realized that written documents could serve as the basis for learning.

The lecture, or group discussion, also seems to have originated in ancient Greece. Perhaps the mode for which Greece is best known is the dialog, exemplified in the works of Plato. Teacher and student worked on a one-to-one basis. The teacher avoided directly lecturing the student, but (by a careful set of questions) led the student to


The lecture was a solution to a problem that continues to be of great concern in education which is how to accommodate very large numbers of people who need to learn. The development of print provided another such mass mode which the advent the textbook. Almost 200 years elapsed from the invention of the printing press until the widespread use of textbooks in school environments.

Why will the computer lead to another major change in education? There are a variety of reasons, some concerning the advantages of the computer as a learning and teaching device, and some concerning today s very rapidly decreasing cost of computer technology, a decrease that will continue for many years.

A major advance of computer is that they make learning an active process, where students play a constant thinking role. This contrasts with large lecture classes where many students struggle to take notes. In a lecture, few students participate actively in the learning process. Most psychologists agree that active learning is far superior to passive learning.

A closely related issue is individualization. Each student at a computer display has a unique interactive experience based on the student s past performance or other information. Students can control the pace of learning, which is impossible in the lecture situation. They can review material at their discretion and can be given remedial or more advanced material as appropriate. Students can choose both content and learning sequences.

The fact that the cost of computers is diminishing rapidly is well known. Yet the speed of this decline is startling. The figure often seen in the computer industry is that for equivalent power, computers decrease in cost by about 30% each year.

Not all parts of the computer are equally affected by this decrease, however. In recent years, the most dramatic decreases occurred in computer memory and hard drive capacity, the section of the computer that stores information and instructions. The reasons for this decrease are twofold. First, we are just beginning to explore a new and exciting technology. We are rapidly becoming more skillful in using the technology. New techniques are appearing frequently and many of these are successful. The second factor that reduces costs is mass production of components.

We can already begin to see the results of lower costs in the appearance of computers for the home market, computers that cost about the same as color television sets. While these machines lack some capabilities desirable for educational purposes, they are close to providing what we need. Given the rapid pace of development, we can expect their descendants tin a few tears to offer good environments for learning.

Computers help people learn in other ways, too. For example, there are a few methods of teaching that are just now emerging because of computers. One of these methods is distance learning. The students can view the lectures at their own pace, during a time that is good for them, at home on their computer systems. This has been proven to be highly effective for learning disabled, blind/deaf, and mobility impaired students. In addition to viewing lectures on the computer, the students can discuss what they learned with other students in the same course, and even the teacher, through live video conferencing using a program called CU-SeeMe.

Not only are the computers becoming less costly, but the telecommunications media used in distance learning are falling in price and rising in quality every day. Ten years ago, the only way to make a video conference call was to make a long distance phone call from one person s costly black-and-white video phone to another s. Now, all one need is a connection to the Internet (approximately $20 per month for unlimited use) and he or she can talk to and see multiple users at the same time (on a large color


One place you can see this new technology in action is England s Open University. When it was established in 1969, it was radical innovation in many ways. Specifically, the teaching system was based on a combination of broadcasting (computer, television, and radio) and specially written printed texts. This concept of a “University of the Air” was a major factor in bringing the Open University to the forefront of public attention, ensuring widespread publicity and the heavy enrollment essential for political survival in the early years.

Thus, the combinations of increasing educational effectiveness plus decreasing cost of computers will be the primary generator of the educational revolution based on computer and other technologies. It appears likely that computers will soon be more important in our educational process than books, and may entirely replace the book medium for many purposes. These changes will have profound effects on our institutions, our teachers, and even our way of


Bates, A. W. The Role of Technology in Distance Learning.

New York, New York: St. Martin s Press, 1984.

Gayeski, Diane M. Multimedia for Learning. Englewood

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Hawkridge, David. New Information Technology in Education.

Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press,


Percival, Fred, and Ellington, Henry. A Handbook of

Educational Technology. New York, New York: Nichols

Publishing Company, 1984.

Solomon, Cynthia. Computer Environments for Children.

Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1987.


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