Computer assisted instruction (CAI)—an introduction

Simply put, Computer assisted instruction (CAI), also known as Computer Based Instruction or Computer Managed Instruction, is the instructional method that uses a computer for transmission. CAI is used to enhance the quality of instruction and facilitate it. There are various CAI programs which incorporate tutorials, drill and practice, simulation, and problem solving approaches to render any topic understandable.

Most commonly CAI is rendered through Web-Based Tutorials (WBT). Academic libraries have incorporated web based tutorials in their inventories and have emerged as the popular way of instruction.WBT is an innovation popularized by the internet. The benefit of the WBT lies in the fact that, with it, the students learn any topic in a self-directed and self-paced way.

The efficacy of the WBT lie in how interactive they are. An instruction based on compendium of information cannot and should not pass for WBT simply by the virtue of being on the internet. Engagement of the student is the key and it should be interactive and stimulating enough to make up for the absence of the mentor. They can be a set of quizzes and have the provisions of feedback.

Information Literacy is another aspect that is emphasized by the promoters of WBT.The modules contained in the WBTs have an extensive range of topics that walk a student trough a given topic while simultaneously generating information literacy.

CAI can also be viewed as a self-learning technique. It can be online or offline and involves material that promotes interaction of the student with programmed instructional materials. Through the computer the learning can be monitored.

CAI generally consists of a varieties of combinations of text, graphics, audio and video material to add value to the entire teaching-learning experience. It is being discovered globally, and gradually in Indian classrooms, that the computer can be used in various ways to assist students in accomplishing curricular goals.

What renders CAI so effective is the various ways of interacting and providing feedback. This is achieved with the use of text or multimedia content, multiple-choice questions, problems, immediate feedback, notes on incorrect responses,exercises for practice, worksheets and tests.

CAI consists of--

1. Drill-and-practice—this is incorporated to let the students familiarize themselves with the concepts thoroughly by repeatedly practicing and with the feedback available, the students are aware of their individual need to practice.

2. Tutorial—this involves the presentation of information and its application in drills like games and simulation. 

3. Games—the software included allows the students to learn competitively in real time.

4. Simulation—like in all other fields, simulation is used in education for better comprehension of the scenario being explained. The students are enabled to experience the real life-like situation to apply their knowledge in. The use of VR and AR can enhance the impact of simulation based tutorials and drills.

CAI, Pros

The advantages of CAI are multifarious. The student can have highly interactive one-on –one session with the programme or even benefit from AI guided interaction, which is difficult in the classroom settings. The students are constantly motivated and engaged, and they come face to face with different options to explore and customize their learning, and turn it self-paced. The motivation and engagement is further heightened in the presence of constant feedback mechanism. CAI can enhance receptiveness with the help of multimedia and the multi-sensory approach based lessons.

CAI benefits the teachers by enabling them to take their pedagogy to the next level and devote more time to individual students thereby individualizing the lessons to a great extent.

CAI, cons

The disadvantages of the CAI based learning models stems from the dependence on infrastructure. Many a times the availability of CAI and WBT packages becomes a challenge to the students.Besides that, there is a feeling that CAI can turn learning into an unduly mechanical process, the multi-media content , some feel, distract students from learning the topic itself.

CAI appears to be the logical evolution if the speed with which the digital technology is gaining currency in education is taken into account.It may not be a replacement of the physical classrooms and conventional teacher-student relationship, but it can undoubtedly complement it.

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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