What Is Computer-Assisted Teaching?
Computer-assisted teaching refers to instruction that is delivered partially or totally through the medium of a computer. This method of teaching occurs in all levels of education from primary to post-secondary courses. While many students benefit from course material presented through the computer or over the Internet, there are some difficulties in implementing computer assisted instruction (CAI) in certain educational settings.
Some teachers who have implemented computer-assisted teaching to help deliver course content have struggled with learning the technology to effectively utilize those programs. In addition, some teachers have noted increased levels of student anxiety when encountering the computer programs. Even well-designed programs will occasionally have a problem which can interfere with curriculum schedules and assignment deadlines. Although computer-assisted teaching can offer students who have limited computer skills an opportunity to increase their comfort level with computers, teachers ought to be prepared for a steep classroom learning curve if their students are not adept at using the equipment and navigating online.
Other teachers struggle to find software that fits the needs of the course. Not all programs are well aligned with curricular goals, and the front-end cost of buying software for a school can be quite steep. Fortunately, many software companies will allow instructors and students to test their products before making a purchase. This allows the school to make an informed decision about the software they’d like to purchase.
When computer-assisted teaching is well integrated, it can be a very effective mode of delivering content. In university settings, students in large classes or classes where the attendance is typically very poor have benefited greatly. Since a lot of computer software is adaptive, it can meet the specific needs of the learner using it while instructors of very large classes often struggle to meet the individual learning needs of students. Computer programs can serve as diagnostic tools, as well as showing students which topics they need to study more to master the content of the course. Some studies have indicated that students who have had computer-assisted instruction in large classes have performed better on final examinations than students who were only taught through traditional methods.
Courses that are solely moderated through the computer are also very affordable. They offer students a lot of flexibility and some measure of self-paced learning. Students who live far from school campuses or who would otherwise not be able to afford taking classes can certainly benefit from online instruction or educational software that they can complete at home.
@KoiwiGal - That's not necessarily true. I don't think it makes a difference whether a student is being taught by a person or a computer, if they are failing the school should immediately be aware and have steps to take.
Maybe if a school had more teachers set up with smaller classes for the students who need extra help, rather than uniformly huge classes where individuals get lost in the mix, everyone would get as much help as they need.
I know they do something similar in South Korea, where many tutors are available online to help students who need extra tutoring and apparently the system works really well.
@clintflint - I have to say that I worry about whether they will eventually try to phase out teachers altogether, at least for certain subjects or certain kinds of students.
And that will definitely harm the kids who are already disadvantaged by poverty more than the ones who aren't, since they won't have the same resources at home to help them if they slip through the cracks, which is much easier to do when you are being overseen by a computer rather than a person.
I was talking about this with my mother (who is a teacher) the other day and in her opinion it could end up being a really good thing for a lot of students. Teaching is a difficult job, but the job isn't exactly seen as preferred, so there are a lot of teachers who struggle with their classes, or are just plain not good at what they do. If computer assisted teaching was implemented with a good curriculum across the board, then that would lift up the quality of the school day for the millions of students who simply don't have access to a decent teacher. If they do have a fantastic teacher, adding a computer element isn't going to really make much difference to their learning, because a good teacher can use whatever tools are available to make their point, whether those be a blackboard or a smartboard.
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