The Future of Computers and Learning

This paper, like the others in this issue, is intended to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Technological Horizons in Education Journal. It focuses on the future of computers in education. My desire is to consider all levels of education, because I regard the problems to be similar from young childhood to lifelong learning. Thus I am not considering only schools and universities.

I start with a brief discussion of the present problems of education, independent of computers. It is important to examine this problem before considering solutions. Then I look quickly at the problems of current computer usage in learning modes. Then I ask how computers could lead to major improvements in learning. The directions proposed are unlike the approaches popular today.

CURRENT PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION

It seems reasonable to begin a discussion of the future of computers in education with considerations of the current problems of education. Then we can direct our use of technology to improve education. I do not mean to imply that there would be universal agreement on these problems or that this list is exhaustive; but these serious problems deserve careful preliminary consideration in restructuring our educational systems. They are worldwide problems that affect all levels of education.

I begin with what I regard as the root of many of the grand problems of today: the problem of population. The number of people on earth is growing rapidly with no sign that we will be able to stop this growth. Indeed, many powerful people and groups encourage this growth. Educators often do not see this as an educational problem, but I believe this view to be wrong.

World Population: The Grand Problem

At the beginning of this century, the population of the earth, after thousands of years of development of civilization, reached one billion people. At the beginning of the new century we will have about six billion people on earth, and this number continues to grow rapidly -- presently at ninety million people per year. A scenario from the United Nations gives the world population in 2150 as 694 billion, based on current growth rates in the different parts of the world.[1] This is very unlikely, but it shows the serious nature of the problem.

I regard this rapid growth of population as the root problem on earth today, not just for learning but for many other aspects of modern society. Attempts to control population in countries such as China and India have met with only partial success. In most of the world there is only an inadequate attempt at population control.

A rapidly growing population means that with todayís methods of learning many people will receive no or inferior education. Schools and other educational institutions cannot handle, in their present mode, even in highly developed countries, the ever-increasing numbers of students, and they change only slowly. Very few of the people on earth receive an adequate education even today.

How has our education system changed as population has increased? Unfortunately, it has changed little in this century, in spite of the six-fold increase in population. Classes have grown, particularly at the college level. But the educational materials have varied only slightly, and our major learning problems remain unchanged.

Universal Education

Increasing population is not the only problem contributing to greater numbers to be educated. A greater percentage of this growing populace needs education. This is partly because of the rise of democratic states, and partly because our society changes rapidly. We also have rising expectations for schools, assigning them new tasks.

We increasingly see education as a critical component of democratic society. For intelligent decisions in democratic society we need an educated population. Furthermore, we increasingly see the need for lifelong education. Society changes faster, so what is learned when we are young is fast outdated.

So this need for universal education further complicates the problems created by growing populations, by increasing the numbers we must consider. One of President Clintonís points of emphasis in the 1996 U.S. presidential election was that everyone is entitled to two years in community college, again increasing the need for education.

Lack of Individualism

One aspect of education that must be considered is that all students are DIFFERENT, with different backgrounds, knowledge, interests and learning styles. Each student should be treated individually. But our current modes of learning provide little individualization. Every student tends to be provided with the same learning experiences. This cookie-cutter approach to learning works for a few students, but many do not learn, or learn only partially. Our classes are already too large to provide individualized learning.

Domination of Lecture and Textbook

The major learning modes in schools and universities are the lecture and textbook. Lectures date at least since classical Greece, 2,500 years ago; textbooks come from a more recent technological development, the printing press. Both textbooks and lectures provide little individualization, so neither work well considering the wide range of background and experience found with students today. The advantage of books and lectures is that they can provide integrated whole courses, not just fragments.

Information vs. Learning

A major problem with learning today is the increasing tendency to confuse information with learning. This is particularly a problem with the use of the World Wide Web in learning, although it is an older problem, predating the Webís existence. Textbooks and lectures are primarily sources of information, rather than learning media.

This confusion of information and learning is particularly important with areas that depend heavily on problem solving. It is also of major concern because it is immediate information, not problem solving and creativity, that is most easily tested.

Costs

Another serious problem is the cost of learning. The costs per student for an hour of instruction are an important factor. New proposals often cost more money. The critical factor is not the cost of development, but the cost per student for learning.

In developed counties there is often tax-resistant pressure to increasing the cost of education. In the less-developed areas of the world, the costs of education are often out of the question. Can we meet educational needs for all students worldwide with lower costs per student?

HISTORY UNTIL NOW FOR COMPUTERS IN LEARNING

Computers have been used in learning environments since the late 1950s, with increasing amounts of money going in this direction. But looking nationally and internationally it is difficult to see that this usage has improved learning for most students. Often the same approaches are tried several different times, with no knowledge of previous approaches. The problems of using technology to improve learning are seldom mentioned. Instead we tend to see one fad after another, driven by the most recent hardware advances.

Emphasis on Hardware

A strong push with technology in education is toward more and more equipment. Initially this simply meant more and more computers, but today "infrastructure" (networks, connections to networks, computers to run networks) is also likely to be included.

Seldom do these hardware pushers have any coherent view about how the new equipment is to be used to improve learning. As the other items in this section will suggest, there is STILL little worthwhile software to use in schools, 30 years after this use began. This includes the vast amount of mostly low-quality material to be found on the World Wide Web.

I was recently at a meeting for a school district that typifies this situation for me. A large amount of money was about to be devoted to hardware, millions in the next several years. But there was only the vaguest notion as to how these new computers and networks were to be used.

When software is considered, it is usually system software rather than learning software, or software developed for non-learning use, such as business software.

Low Quality of Individualization

A problem often stressed is that our students are all very different. But almost all the curriculum approaches we have now (books and lectures) treat them alike. So it is not too surprising that existing computer learning material d'es the same. We need learning that is individualized to the needs of each student. The key to achieving effective learning is to use the interactive capabilities of modern computers.

If computer learning material is to consider and assist with individual student problems, it must be interactive, probing to find what the student needs help with and providing that help. Only highly interactive learning approaches can discover individual problems and offer relevant learning experiences. As I stress, little such material exists. But there is enough to show that we can prepare such material.

Lack of Interactive Curriculum Material

What we have so far in the way of computer learning material could best be described mostly as "bits and pieces," small isolated components of material, seldom individualized. But full learning demands whole courses and full curricula, sizable chunks of material. Very few interactive courses have been produced.

Lack of Empirical Information

I have always found amazing in education the very strongly held views based on minimal or nonexistent evidence.

Because people have been to schools and universities, they tend to consider themselves experts in education. Seldom are careful experiments available or suggested. Good experiments in this area are expensive, because large numbers must be involved to obtain reliable results. It is even uncommon to gather detailed performance results in standard classes.

THE NEXT 25 YEARS OF LEARNING

How can we use computers to make major improvements in the educational process, for all students worldwide? I argue that this is possible, but only if we consider carefully the problems of education (already mentioned) and the capabilities of interactive technology in solving them.

Although we have major problems in learning, we now have the technology to solve these problems, the interactive technology provided by the computer. But new approaches are needed; learning materials, schools and universities in their current form must change greatly. We have not begun the process needed.

The remainder of this paper proposes a strategy for rebuilding education, using highly interactive technology. I do not claim that this is the only possibility, but that this approach is worth careful consideration and exploration.

All levels and all geographic locations are involved. The following items are I believe the critical factors for considering future highly interactive learning.

Superior Help for Individualization of Learning

I have emphasized the importance of working individually with the problems and potentialities of students. 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.

A more complete discussion of highly interactive learning software is contained in other papers of mine. The following factors are critical:

ï Conversation between the student and the computer is in English, or another natural language. That is, both the student and the computer use a powerful natural language. Pointing and multiple choice are inadequate for a high degree of interaction. The widespread use of pointing has led to less interactive software than we had 20 years ago. Our natural languages are the most powerful communication device ever devised by human beings; complex learning demands such tools.

This interactive computer-based natural language conversation can be done without the use of artificial intelligence, although those techniques may eventually help. In designing the learning unit we need to draw primarily on the experiences of excellent teachers.

ï The computer must maintain information about each student, over long periods of time and internationally, as students move from country to country. Thus, the student database has detailed information about what the student has already done, and what problems are being encountered.

This information is frequently consulted in making decisions within the learning programs, and is frequently updated by the programs. This information is always available, no matter where the student is located, probably through networks. Student privacy is maintained through appropriate coding of the information.

ï Highly interactive software is intrinsically motivating. Interaction itself maintains the interest of the student. We can avoid the gimmicks (puppets, loud music, anthropomorphic animals, etc.) that have become common in video and computer educational material.

Since there is so little experience in creating and using highly interactive software, much further experimentation is needed.

Full, Interactive, Computer-Based Courses

The success of textbooks comes in part because they contain full courses, although not interactive. A small amount of learning material can, at best, lead to a small amount of learning.

We require full courses, at all levels, capable of use by large numbers of students, if we are to make major improvements in our learning systems. A small amount of new learning material added to a conventional course, no matter how successful this material is, will make only a small change in student learning.

Several such computer-based courses were produced in the past, primarily at the college level. Examples are the logic and set theory courses at Stanford, and the physics course at the University of California, Irvine. But there are almost no recent examples. Federal funding in the U.S. for such development ended many years ago.

Methods to produce highly interactive courses will be considered later.

Speech as Major Mode of Human-Computer Communication

The dominant mode of interacting with computers is still the keyboard, and the even more limited interaction with the mouse.

The keyboard is an unpleasant device, except for a few experts in its use. For many students, such as preschool children, it is impossible. Learning to use keyboards in school wastes considerable time, time that could be spent in profitable learning activities. In many U.S. schools it is the primary way computers are used, unfortunately.

But for many years in science fiction, people TALK to computers, just as they talk to people. Such fiction suggests that voice is the natural way for humans and computers to interact. Even young children can talk! I maintain that voice is the natural way for humans to interact with computers.

This approach to computers, talking to them, is now possible; we have adequate voice recognition software now, from several vendors. But almost no such software is currently in use for education. Voice-input software is improving rapidly. It is reasonable today to predict the death of the keyboard, not just for education but for most computer use.

Voice-recognition software will be useful in interactive material, making the interaction even more natural than is possible today.

The importance of our languages in our role as humans is hard to underestimate. Learning furnishes a good example. We expect voice input to be of increasing importance for computer-based learning.

SYSTEMS FOR DEVELOPING HIGHLY INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE

If we are to have an extensive collection of highly interactive computer-based courses, extensive software development is essential. But current software tools available do not stress the creation of highly interactive software. We need new tools and new systems to carry out this new task.

One set of such tools emphasizing the production of highly interactive software has been developed in our joint work with friends at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Papers are available [2] and the software can be demonstrated. Plans for further development exist.

A similar system was developed in Japan by Fujitsu, modeled after the work just described. Other systems are possible; all such systems need further exploration.

In the Irvine-Geneva system we consider three steps in designing highly interactive material, as described in the next sections.

Pedagogical Design

The beginning stage of development in the Irvine-Geneva system is pedagogical design.

Design involves two stages, the initial overall design, and the detailed design of each learning unit. In each the designers should be skilled teachers in the area involved, experienced in understanding the likely problems students will have, and knowledgeable in helping students with these problems. Locating these excellent teachers, and training them to work in groups, is essential. This design activity is the most critical stage in developing highly interactive learning material.

The teachers need an environment for design. In the Irvine-Geneva system these good teachers work in groups of about four, discussing the likely problems students will have at each point. The program must recognize these problems, and offer several types of help if it is to work with all students. The teacher groups are essential in the Irvine-Geneva system if the material is to function well. Discussions within the groups lead to better material than that created by any one individual. We prefer that the design groups work full-time.

In our older work, the script, recording the pedagogical decisions, was done on paper. More recently it is done directly on the screen, using an on-line script editor developed at the University of Geneva. The on-line script editor allows the program to be easily changed.

The script editor also provides facility for converting learning material to other natural languages. This is important if international marketing is being considered, or if the problems of poorer countries are to be recognized, or if the country involved uses several different languages. Maintaining the program in several languages is part of the design of the script editor.

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.

EVALUATION OF COURSES

The third stage in the Irvine-Geneva system is evaluation. Formative evaluation is described in the next section. The aim is to find weak points in the material, places where it is not adequate for all students. Further design may be necessary, based on weaknesses.

Lack of good empirical information in learning has already been mentioned. For the future, it is critical to obtain good data about what kinds of learning materials are best for which students. This is seldom done, unfortunately. Peer reviews are common, but are inadequate for evaluation. Empirical studies, with large numbers of students, are essential. We want strategies so that all students can master learning. It is not acceptable that some students learn and some do not. All students should learn to the mastery level, possible with highly interactive learning material.

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.

Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluation is usually considered part of the development process, improving the learning units before they are released to widespread usage. The learning material must be nearly complete, and then tried with a sizable group of students.

During formative evaluation weak sections of the learning material can be identified, and improved with additional design. Alternate treatments may be suggested for certain students and, again, additional design may be important. Because of these and other improvements suggested by hands-on use by students, several cycles of formative evaluation and improvement will generally be useful.

Summative Evaluation

Summative evaluation compares this learning approach with others available. Thus, if the material is an algebra course for secondary school, the computer courses, assuming several are available, can be compared in great detail with text plus lecture courses in algebra. Large groups and many different courses are needed, and student characteristics must be carefully considered.

We are not looking for minor differences in learning between the several methods considered, but for major differences. One approach may not be best for everyone, and some sections may work better than others.

DELIVERY TECHNOLOGY

At least two delivery technologies seem feasible for the immediate future: CD-ROMs and networks. Perhaps both will be used. Materials can be designed so that either is possible. Both of these delivery technologies are about to change, with faster networks and larger CDs. Satellites may also play a role in delivery.

We need to consider both the instructional materials themselves, and the access to student databases. The decisions on what, if any, technologies are to be used may be dependent on economic factors; i.e., what is the cost of delivering the courses?

Compact Discs

Delivery of highly interactive course materials is possible today on CD-ROMs. The newer high-density CDs, about to appear now for video, will allow for more extensive video material and more courseware on a single disc.

Although some versions of Compact Disc are now rewritable, this technique will probably not be the best with a large mobile student body, as far as storage of student records is concerned.

Networks

So far there is very little highly interactive material available on the Internet or intranets. The early dominant language, HTML, d'es not lend itself to highly interactive courses. But newer languages, such as Java, should improve this situation. Speed may soon be a problem for highly interactive material, particularly if one computer is very heavily used for a single course. The new Internet 2 may alter some of these factors. Networks should be ideal for worldwide storage of student records. But for purposes of security, the World Wide Web format may not be the best one.

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,[3] and the second in an article in Esquire in 1981.[4] 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.

Leonard's system still has schools, however. Next we consider a possibility without traditional schools.

DISTANCE LEARNING INSTITUTES

A new structure for education, not necessarily involving computers, is distance learning. Although existing examples are mostly at the university level, distance learning could be at any level. Like many of the terms in education, this one is used in a wide variety of ways. Even the characterization "new" is subject to question.

Generally the students are studying at their own homes, at convenient times selected by the student.

U.K. Open University

Perhaps the most famous of the existing Distance Learning Institutes is the United Kingdom's Open University, started in 1968. It has many imitators, mostly nationally funded. Printed material is still the norm, although recent courses have employed increasing levels of technology. There is an interesting list published of the ten leading mega-universities of the world, many with similar structures to the Open University.

Some key factors about the Open University are interesting:

  • Degrees are offered in many areas;
  • Over 200,000 students are involved;
  • Much of the learning is done in the studentís home;
  • Larger "classes" have close to 10,000 students each;
  • Study centers are available for providing individualized human attention;
  • Non-degree courses are now available;
  • Costs per student are far less than in traditional universities; and
  • Graduates compete well with those from traditional universities.
  • New examples, such as the Western Governorís University in the United States, are currently being developed, but so far these examples are not based on highly interactive learning materials. Many are in response to population pressures already being felt. Although distance learning today is mainly available at the university level, other levels are possible, and are likely to become more important in the future.[5]

    Now we consider combining distance learning and highly interactive computer-based learning units.[6]

    HIGHLY INTERACTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING

    Existing distance learning institutions do not make major use of highly interactive learning material. Print and video are the major learning media in the older universities that work this way, and both of these media are non-interactive. Recent attempts to put courses on the World Wide Web differ only slightly from books, as their main form of interaction is pointing.

    This lack of interaction is not surprising; I have noted several times that there is not much highly interactive learning material available, certainly not enough to maintain a full school or university. So we have no experiences or research data with highly interactive distance learning institutes. But the potentialities for a highly interactive distance learning institution are, I believe, great. This direction is worth careful consideration.

  • The Open University and similar institutes show that we can provide quality education to large numbers of students at lower costs than now possible. Technology will enhance these factors, allowing us to respond more adequately to individual student needs.
  • Highly interactive material allows individualization of learning not possible with current class sizes, so much larger classes are possible.
  • We need far greater experience with such learning.
  • Fewer Teachers

    So far the use of computers in learning, with current non-interactive material, has almost always led to increased costs per person. It is typically a tag-on activity, an addition to whatever else is happening to assist learning. So currently, use of technology increases costs. But although education is a "high priority" in our society, the general opposition to increasing taxes, at least in the U.S., has restricted the possibilities for increasing funds for education. For success, in the money-conscious world of today, we must look at possibilities for improving learning that lead to lower costs per student, not higher costs.

    The major costs of education today are for teachers and administrators. So the only way to find additional funds for the use of technology or other new approaches in education is to reduce costs for teachers and administrators. Teachers are already underpaid, so our only possibility for the future is fewer numbers of teachers. Reducing the number of teachers is not likely to be a popular idea in many current educational circles. But I believe it is essential if we are to improve learning at all levels, and provide it to the billions of people who are currently offered inadequate learning.

    It is fortunate that interactive technology makes it possible to have fewer teachers. We can provide, through highly interactive computer materials, the detailed help that is needed for most students. We will need good empirical evidence that this is possible and that we can provide superior education with fewer teachers, at all levels of learning. So the evaluative studies referred to elsewhere in this paper will be particularly important here.

    Lower Cost Per Student

    We have already noted, even without interactive technology, that the U.K.ís Open University format allows classes of thousands. So even expensive curriculum development (or perhaps BECAUSE of expensive curriculum development) leads to lower costs, because the number of students that can possibly use such curriculum material g'es up exponentially.

    The ability to provide more effective learning at a lower cost per student is a great advantage of highly interactive learning courses at all levels of education. The interactive programs provide the individualized attention that today must come from highly skilled teachers.

    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.

    Experiment

    The lack of an empirical basis for learning has been stressed several times. This applies particularly to highly interactive courses, since very few have been developed.[7] So we need to begin by developing and evaluating many highly interactive courses, comparing them with existing modes of learning. It should be done at different levels of education. It can be conducted at different speeds. As noted in the next section, this experiment will involve major expenses.

    Further, since this approach has possibilities at many levels, from young childhood to adult learning, we need to cover this range. We need careful summative evaluations, comparing these courses with traditional courses for a wide range of students.

    This testing should include not only students in developed countries, but also those in under-developed countries. Most of the people needing such learning live in the poorer parts of the world. This experimentation should compare learning with several approaches. And it should examine closely the financial aspects, both for development and delivery of the learning materials.

    Costs

    We can obtain a first approximation to the cost of developing the high-quality courses we need by examining the Open Universityís costs for course development. At present this is several million dollars. These courses are mostly not highly interactive courses, but costs for such expensive areas as pedagogical design and evaluation are not that different.

    Our experiences in developing highly interactive material, using the Irvine-Geneva system previously outlined, are similar. Our experience suggests a cost of about $ 25,000 per hour of learning material.

    But this is not the critical figure. We want not the total development cost, but rather the cost for each student. Thus material to be used by millions, or billions, of students, can be inexpensive even though total development costs are high.

    WHO D'ES IT?

    Who will perform the experiments? Who is to construct the further courses? Who is to construct the distance learning institutions to follow? The answers to these complex problems may differ from market to market. Here are some of the possibilities.

    Governments

    Outside the United States almost all the attempts to create major distance learning institutes have been government funded, so they are likely future funding sources. Experimental efforts, not expected to make an immediate profit, are particular candidates for government funding.

    Companies

    Eventually, in almost all areas distance learning institutions are likely to be highly profitable. Hence companies will be attracted to an area, particularly when profit is likely to be soon or when experiments lead to very positive results. The preschool market is a likely example.

    But companies are conservative, and it may take considerable time for them to see the possible large future profits in this direction. The likely initial markets are the home markets.

    International Organizations

    The fact that education is a worldwide problem has been stressed here. This suggests that international organizations with an interest in education are likely funding sources. The United Nations and the World Bank are two such organizations that come to mind.

    CONCLUSION

    The world has increasing problems in education. A reasonable possibility to explore is the development of highly interactive computer-based courses.[8] These courses would interact with the student in the studentís 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.


    Alfred Bork is a 20-year+ member of T.H.E.ís Editorial Board. Currently, Bork is Professor Emeritus of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. He has also been at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the University of Alaska, Reed College and Harvard University. He directs the Educational Technology Center at UC Irvine, a research and development group in technology-based learning. He is Vice President of A. Bork Endeavors. Recent projects include production systems for technology-based learning, problems of learning about the methods of science, improving reasoning capability, voice input to computers, and learning Japanese. The Scientific Reasoning Series and Understanding Spoken Japanese are commercially available. Bork is interested in effective use of highly interactive multimedia technology to make order-of-magnitude improvements in learning at all levels. He has published dozens of papers and books about these issues.

    E-mail: bork@uci.edu


    References:

    1. Cohen, J'el E., How Many People Can the Earth Support?, New York, NY: Norton, 1995.
    2. Bork, Alfred, Bertrand Ibrahim, Bernard Levrat, Alastair Milne and Rika Yoshii, "The Irvine-Geneva Course Development System," Education and Society, R. Atkin (Ed.), Information Processing 92, Volume II, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1992, IFIP.
    3.  Leonard, George B., Education and Ecstacy, New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1968.
    4.  Leonard, George, "The Great School Reform Hoax," Esquire, April 1984.
    5. Bork, Alfred, "Highly Interactive Multimedia Technology and Future Learning," Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 8(1), Fall 1996.
    6. Bork, Alfred, "Distance Learning and Interaction: Toward a Virtual Learning Institution," Journal of Science Education and Technology, 5(3), 1995.
    7. Bork, Alfred, "Highly Interactive Software for Learning," not published, available from author.

    Bork, Alfred, "Rebuilding Universitites with Highly Interactive Multimedia Curriculum," International Journal of Engineering Education, in press.

    This article originally appeared in the 06/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.

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