Characteristics of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) – an old college assignment

I was going through my reader as usual, when I came across an article on Minimalism approach. This reminded me of my college years, assignments and all the theories that we studied. Minimalism holds a special place since it was the topic of my year end report and research. So, after years, I opened the isolated folder of my college work and went through some of my assignments. It was pleasant to go through all the work and I found myself missing those assignments work now. 😦

Anyway, here is one of my assignments report on CAI characteristics:

Computers being a graphic user interface, provide a wide range of additional features that can prove to be more effective for self-learning material. Though, CAI and self-learning books pertain to individualized learning, instructions through computers differ from SLM. Characteristics of CAI can be listed as follows:

1) Interactivity:
Asking the learner to perform tasks during the package, keeps him alert and attentive. It prevents im from getting bored.
Immediate feedback is given. The learner is asked to select the correct answer. As soon as he responds, he is given feedback. The correct and wrong answers are shown. The wrong answer is in a faded colour whereas the correct answer is in bold colours and also some additional information about the question asked is supplied. This helps the learner to from a pictorial image of the answer in his mind.
If the response of the learner is incorrect then he is asked to try again, till he gives the correct answer.
Encouraging words such as “Very good!” or “You did it correctly” are used to increase the morale of the learner and also to motivate him to learn further.
In packages developed for small children or primary level children, rewards are given in the form of objects such as mangoes, stars etc. This is a type of motivation to nudge them to learn further.
Reinforcement in the form of repetition of important points helps in better understand of the subject matter.
Time bound activities are also given which make learning more fun, engaging, involving and interesting.

2) Language:
The learner is usually alone during while using the package. Isolated learning can tend to boring and the learner may eventually lose interest in the package. Hence it is necessary that the language be very interesting that would attract the attention of the learner and encourage him to learn further.
Active sentence patterns are used instead of using passive formats. Active voice brings about subjectivity and a sense of belonging. It avoids the formal pattern of instruction and the learner does not feel isolated and insecure.
Words such as “Let us now study” or  “ We already know” are used, which give the feeling to the learner that he is not alone in the process and the instructor is very friendly to him.
Sentences are short, simple and small. They are easy to understand. Small sentences are specially used in the packages made for small children. The sentence pattern may change if the package is made for older group of people.
Conversational language is used, due to which the learner feels as if the narrator is speaking tom him. This motivates the learner.

3) Use of a narrator:
Many a times, a graphic narrator is shown which does the job of narrating the topic or the content and usually guides the learner through the entire package.
Narrators directly converse with the learner and explain how to use the package.
It may sometimes appear as if the graphic narrator is teaching the learner or he is learning along with the learner. This narrator gives a sense of some virtual guide, helping the learner through the process of learning.

4) Content Treatment:
The content is structured. It is broken into small chunks, sections, subsections, units etc. The learner thus gets a whole picture of the content that he is going to learn in the package.
The programmer beforehand decides upon the inter-relation and inter-dependence of the components and accordingly places the material in a sequential order or non-linear manner.
The learner has the freedom to go through any topic at any point of time, according to his choice. He can go back to any topic, which he feels to revise again or relearn.
Important concepts, definitions etc are emphasized upon.
The objectives behind each sub unit are mentioned.
Based upon the objectives, there are some inbuilt activities that the learner has to perform. Such activities are given so that learner knows, whether the concepts are clear to him or whether he needs to learn it again. Inbuilt activities may include games, with scores, true or false questions, multiple choice questions, etc.
Step by step, each topic is taught and at the end of each topic there are questions based upon it. Thus the learner is able to keep his own score and maintain his own level of learning.

5) Multimedia:
Multimedia includes the use of sounds, graphics, animations, motion to any animations, film clips and various other features. All such features have made the CAI packages very interesting.
The eye catches any motion and it is easier to grasp attention.
It is very interesting to watch a graphic animation performing the unexciting chemical equations or drawing some tedious geometrical figures. If there are any funny sounds in the background then all such boring lessons become fun and frolic. Thus apart from learning, such activities become amusement games for the learner. This keeps the learner motivated and he does not feel as if he is studying some difficult chapter.
When there is some definition to be learnt, sounds clip can be added to the text, which would make a double impact on the brain and the learner is able to remember the definition by visual as well as auditory mode.
Another advantage of multimedia is that real film clips can be inserted in the packages. Say for example, in a package for Universe, real film clips of the moon or now even the Mars, can be inserted which would create a better impression on the minds of learners.

6) User-friendly Layout:
The package first introduces the topic to learner. The introduction may be based upon some previously known events or some situations that are familiar to the learner. The introduction through familiar topics leads to the main subject to be learned. After the introduction, the user comes to the first page or the homepage. This page contains link to all subunits and subsections. When the components are independent of each other, the learner may opt for any sub unit of his choice. For example, if the package is about different types of fruits and vegetables, he may select fruits or vegetables according to his wish and then learn further about them. Fruits and vegetables are not interdependent on each other. The learner can study these topics individually. Thus he has the freedom of choice in such a situation.
Each page in the package has buttons that go to the homepage, next page, previous page or exit from the package. This is a very convenient for the learner as he can go back to any unit and look up for information. If he feels that he has sufficient knowledge about a particular unit, then he may go directly to the homepage and start some other unit. These choices make the packages very user friendly.
The user sets the pace of learning. Once all the content in loaded on a frame it stop and remains static on the screen. Until it receives any response from the user it does not go to the next frame. If there is only information on a particular frame then there will be provision of a “next button” to go to the next frame. If there is some question asked then either the user has to click on the correct answer or choose from the options or type in their feedback. When either one of this is done, only then the frame goes further. Thus the user can look and read from a frame for as much time as he wants and finally when he is sure that he has understood everything, he may proceed further.
Whenever any graphic is used, for example any historical monument, information about the monument is given at its side. Learner is asked to point out some part of it or type the name of a particular part. This type of situation will never occur in books. When one actually sees the image or a real picture of any monument or any object for that matter, it helps in better understand. It creates a photogenic memory that is easier to recall and it fits permanently in the mind. For example, if a package is instructing about the various sounds made by various animals, then the learner will be able to associate the picture of an animal along with the sound provided in the package. It would get fixated in the minds of learners. This would obviously make it easier than the normal textbook learning.

This is a nostalgic post about college assignments. Ya I know it sounds weird but there it is.

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