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A Pragmatic Introduction to Courseware Design Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131454D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 26 page(s) / 86K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Jurg Nievergelt: AUTHOR [+3]


Institut fur Informatik, ETH

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1980 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

A Pragmatic Introduction to Courseware Design

Jurg Nievergelt

Institut fur Informatik, ETH

After surveying the history of CAI, this article clarifies environmental requirements and presents a practical set of stylistic dos and don 'ts for writing instructional material.

Computer-assisted instruction has experienced two turbulent decades of development since its beginnings in the late 1 950's. High hopes of having found a laborsaving technology for education have alternated with disillusionment at the unimaginative use of computers for electronic page turning. The record of actual use of CAI has also been spotty. Some large-scale development efforts have yielded only small payoffs to date. It is anybody's guess whether the CAI products currently on the market will turn out to be commercial successes.

On the other hand, the recent proliferation of "smart" machines -- such as terminals, typewriters, and cash registers, each containing a microcomputer, keyboard, and screen -- capable of conducting an instructional dialog with a user, has opened a wide new area of application of CAI: the realization of the self-explanatory machine, which permits a casual user to learn how to operate it through interacting with it. I believe that these ad hoc uses of CAI will ultimately succeed where frontal attacks have failed and will introduce into education the computer- delivered instructional dialog as a standard tool. Later in this article, I provide some arguments in support of this prediction.

Regardless of the long-range outlook, a new situation has arisen in the last few years. Because the hardware needed to deliver instructional dialogs is now available on numerous systems designed for other purposes, many more people than ever before are finding themselves faced with the decision of whether or not to use CAI in some limited application, and if so, how to approach this unfamiliar task.

The literature on CAI is vast but repetitive. In this article, I try to list the main questions that must be raised and answered before CAI is introduced and to summarize the collective know-how and experience of a number of CAI projects with which I have been involved or have had the opportunity to observe firsthand.

CAI is a field where experience and common sense are the only guidelines. There is no relevant theory to guide the designer, administrator, or user. This insight came to the community relatively late, after a decade of domination by educational and psychological theories. The main lesson the CAI practitioner can learn today fro...