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Learning FROM Technology

Examples of Behaviorist-Oriented Computer-Supported Instructional Contexts


The information in the chart below presents three of the more common instructional support contexts established by computers within typical classroom learning environments: linear information presentation, tutorial, and drill and practice.  These context types are referred to as support because they only address a small (but important) portion of the overall instructional strategies needed to maximize the probability that all learners in a class will learn specific outcomes.  They are also referred to as scaffolds because they can help individual learners meet specific needs on their way to accomplishing a bigger (and more meaningful) instructional goal.  Distinguishing between “meaningful” instructional contexts and support or scaffold contexts is important because it helps define the potential value of computers within the instructional design process.  The contexts represented below are valuable, but only if they are used WITHIN meaningful contexts…they don’t define meaningful contexts themselves.  The problem is, these context types reflect the more traditional uses of computers in the classroom.  Information presentation, tutorials, and drill and practice programs do have a place within some learning environments, but they could never, and should never, be used as the only means of trying to facilitate targeted outcomes. 

  

Context
Type

Context
Description

 
Web-Based Examples

 

Tutorial

(Direct Instruction)

 

This context type generally presents "new" information (usually in a linear or stepwise format), and either provides a certain degree of practice using the information in some way, or applies the skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes to specific example(s).

 

Computer-Based Courseware 

Check out the math courseware in each of these three popular courseware products…they represent classic examples of tutorials: 

www.plato.com

www.compasslearning.com,

http://www.ncslearn.com/successmaker/

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Office Tutorials

 These tutorials are used to help students and teachers quickly learn how to use the Microsoft Office applications.  They are part of the Teaching and Learning with Microsoft program, which is a worthwhile free program designed to help educators learn how to integrate technology (Microsoft technology, that is) into their practice. 

 http://www.microsoft.com/education/?ID=Tutorials

 

 

Linear Information Presentation

(no-practice tutorial)

 

 

 

This context type simply provides the learners with the linear presentation of information (“instructions”) and examples.  That’s it.

 


 
Developing Scales

 http://trochim.cornell.edu/kb/scalgen.htm

This site is part of an on-line textbook that presents concepts in measurement and statistics.  The link takes you to a page that displays information about how to develop scales (which may come in handy if you need to develop a rubric for evaluating instruction).

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Theory Into Practice (TIP) Database

 http://tip.psychology.org/

This very useful website presents information over a variety of instructional and educational theories.  No practice, no review, no assessment, no context.  Just good, well organized information.
  

 

Drill & Practice

 

Generally, this type of environment does not present "new" information, but provides practice and feedback over specific skills (often knowledge, defined concepts and rules).

 
Reading Blaster (Ages 7-8)

 www.education.com/blaster/RB7-8demo.shtml

This is one of the popular titles in the “Blaster” series of math, reading and language arts drill & practice programs.  You can play a demo of this program on-line.  Shockwave will install automatically of you don’t already have it as a browser plug-in.  And if you need help figuring it out, try to ask an 8-year-old for help (hint: the longer you hold the mouse down, the more power is applied to the ball shooter).
 

 
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PT3 Program - NAU College of Education
For questions and comments about this web site, please contact Greg.Sherman@nau.edu
This page last modified on August 09, 2002

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