On Media and Learning

When learners need instant feedback, only a computer can implement the requisite instructional method.

This topic is copied from an article from Educational Technology (March-April 2005) by Kenneth J. Luterbach.

It is simply amazing to see how USA researcher took so much trouble to come to conclusion of such simple notion.

Of course, everybody would say "yes", only a computer can implement the requisite instructional method. But how sure are you ? is there any other alternatives?

To make things complicated, the article states that:

"To a considerable extend, I support Clark’s view that media do not influence learning. However, I contend that in certain circumstances, the computer accounts for learning because it is the only medium that can provide virtually authentic practice, which learners need in order to achieve the instructional goal."

So computer is the media. While at the same time, it accomodates for instructional methodology.
The article then uses Flight-simulator for airplane pilot as a best practice for using computer to achieve learning advantages.

Then it follows with more supporting facts:
1. Petkovich and Tennyson (1985) claimed that adaptive algorithms for teaching concepts could not be implemented by teachers.
2. I agree that pass research supports the view that instructional methods account for learning, not their delivery media.
3. However, when seeking to acquire motor skills, the timing of feedback to learners may be crucial.
4. First, our personal learning experiences and the well known events of instruction (Gagne, Briggs, & Wage, 1988) inform us that learners must practice. We also know from personal experience that practice is worthwhile when it is authentic.
5. In the training through flight simulation scenario, I see a unique instructional environment that inextricably binds the practice element of instructional methods to computers.
6. I contend that when instruction demands accurate modeling of dynamic activity in real-time and instant feedback to learner input, the computer is the only instructional medium of any practical use.
7. Given enough practice, the learner can identify performance errors after personal reflection and then make necessary corrections, which ultimately leads to mastery.
8. The idea of a tutor or multiple tutors trying to calculate, or even approximate, the effects of learner inputs and then making adjustments to simulate actual airplane movement really does not seem tenable.
9. Hence, while electronics are helpful, without computation, it is not apparent how actual flight can be depicted realistically.
10. As a result they may have focused exclusively on improving their computer-based simulators, rather than seeking an equally effective alternative.
11. , I maintain that flight training with a human tutor and media other than a computer would not adequately prepare someone to receive a license or accreditation to fly an airplane.
12. Such practice is necessary to master the instructional goal, which in this case demands an increase in the knowledge, skill level, and confidence of the practitioner to the point of actual engagement.
13. In the future, I expect general agreement that media such as computers are more efficient deliverers of certain instructional methods that teachers or textbooks.

Evaluations & Applications:

  • Malaysia is facing shortage in human resources for the teaching profession, while IT graduates experience job uncertainty and even jobless. Didn’t someone see an opportunity here?

  • Educational or simulation software is not widely implemented because they require domain expertise, adaptive and as well as fast implementation.

  • Can there be simulators for all subjects being taught at schools?

  • Scholarships should be given to qualified software programmers to pursue further education in other genre in order to create domain-expertise software to benefits the educational industry as a whole. In retrospect, people who are masters in certain fields can also be taught about software programming in order to achieve similar vision, however software programmers in general have higher learning capabilities and thus this would maximize the investment benefit.

  • Special grants must be allocated for volunteering individuals and organizations that have the vision to redefine education by investing resources into creation of educational-enhancing software technology. The government must take initiative to create such incentive.

  • Someone must be willing to provide continuous maintenance and upgrade of specific educational-driven software in order to maintain its user base. For this to happen, either case is possible; software programmers took interest in a particular subject or vice versa.