.. ust change greatly. We have not begun the process needed. Superior Help for Individualization of Learning The importance of working individually with the problems and potentialities of students must be emphasized. As we have had more and more students, this has become increasingly difficult.
Our current grading system, with many students receiving poor grades, indicates that we are now mostly unsuccessful in helping the individual student. Grade inflation only further emphasizes this problem. Highly interactive computer material now makes this individualized attention possible. We need programs that continually probe the student, finding out at each instant what the student can and cannot do. Then, based on this knowledge, the program can offer individualized assistance.
This approach combines learning and assessment into one seamless activity, not separating them as in current courses. Assessment is used to determine what learning material is to be presented next. As stressed, very little software of this type has been produced. We consider briefly later in this paper how it can be generated. Highly Interactive Software The notion of highly interactive software has already been mentioned.
Although the term interaction is widely used, most existing software, of all types, can at best be described as only very slightly interactive. The widespread use of the word interaction predates the existence of computers. A good model of interaction is a conversation between two people, where each is paying close attention to what the other person is saying. Such an interactive conversation need not be concerned with learning, but it may be. Thus Socrates working with a small group of students, or three or four students working cooperatively, or a student working with an individual tutor, give us non-computer examples of interactive learning situations.
Since there is so little experience in creating and using highly interactive software, much further experimentation is needed. Implementation If the script is on paper, coders are required to translate the design into code, or to transfer the script to the computer. With the on-line script editor, however, it partially writes the program itself. Eventually we expect most of coding to be done automatically by the script editor. Visual material must be created by professionals in such material, following the directions in the script.
Note that teachers are not asked to function as professional designers. Many years ago, in considering the problems of evaluating learning material, Michael Scriven made the important distinction between formative evaluation and summative evaluation. Both are important in examining learning material. Seldom is either done, to the scale that is necessary to assure excellent learning materials. With both types of evaluation, the computer can play a major role in gathering the data. Student responses, particularly when not analyzed by the learning program, can be stored and sorted for later analysis. Human evaluators may also be involved. For material available in several languages, which aims at a worldwide market, it is important to evaluate it in each of the countries involved.
HOW WILL HIGHLY INTERACTIVE COMPUTER-BASED COURSES BE USED? The new highly interactive courses discussed here allow many new possibilities. They could be used in the conventional institutions of today, or in new forms of institutions derived from ones that already exist, or they could imply new institutions, particularly based on distance learning. Some of these possibilities will be reviewed in the next sections. Existing Institutions The highly interactive courses discussed here could be used in conventional institutions such as schools and universities, in whole or in part. Then they simply replace the course already available.
But since these courses stress mastery learning, they should be much more effective than the replaced courses. New Forms of Institutions A major advantage of highly interactive courses is that they make new forms of learning institutes possible, forms that let us attempt solutions to the major problems of education reviewed earlier in this paper. The idea of new structures for schools and universities is not new, but still a rare occurrence. The example in the next section dates from 1968 and was suggested by George Leonard. Then we will consider the role of highly interactive courses in distance learning.
George Leonard’s Schools Two examples of future schools that have always seemed very interesting to me are the schools proposed by George Leonard. The first of these appeared in a book that appeared in 1968, Education and Ecstasy, and the second in an article in Esquire in 1981. We consider only the first of these two. Leonard splits the school into two distinct pieces, one concerned with cognitive aspects of learning and one with effective learning. Technology plays a major role only in cognitive learning. The learning dome is the arena for this.
Computers are placed around the perimeter of the dome, each with large screens touching neighboring ones. Students carry an identifying electronic box as they approach a computer. The computer has full records of just where the child is in all subjects, and as with all highly interactive material, these records show where difficulties are occurring. They are updated as the student progresses. Part of the information about each child is obtained by examining brainwaves.
And neighboring children are brought together when possible, with the double screen having activities of both children. More Students The worldwide need to educate far more students than we do at present, discussed early in this paper, along with the population problem, and the need for universal education, is an important theme of this presentation. Our current methods for assisting learning will not allow us to work with far more students, within the bounds of fiscal realism. But those students are there, and their numbers are increasing. I believe that highly interactive technology is the only possibility that will allow us to reach the individual needs of large numbers of additional students.
HOW DO WE GET THERE? Replacing our current educational systems with ones that depend on highly interactive technology is not a simple and inexpensive process. It cannot be done at a single school or single university. A coordinated effort, perhaps involving many countries, will be necessary. CONCLUSION The world has increasing problems in education. A reasonable possibility to explore is the development of highly interactive computer-based courses. These courses would interact with the student in the students own language, finding learning weaknesses.
They would also store information about such learning weaknesses, and use this information in helping the individual student. I do not see that any other current proposals will meet the challenge of providing adequate education. But we need more experimental work to test this approach. Education Essays.