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.