Computer and Computer-assisted Instruction

Topics: Computer, Computer program, Computer programming Pages: 11 (7060 words) Published: September 19, 2014
The Uses of Computers in Education
The h l g e informution-processing cupcities of c o m p u t e n m u k e it possible to use them to adapt mechanical teaching
t o the needs and the p u s t p e r f o r m a n c e o f the indi(~idLm1 student
by Patrick Suppes


s other articles inthis issue make
abundantly clear, both
- processing andthe
uses of information areundergoinganunprecedented technological revolution.
only are
machines able deal
now to
with many kinds of information at high
speedand in largequantitiesbut also
it is possible to manipulate these quantities of information so as to benefit from them in entirely novel mays. This
is perhapsnowheretruerthaninthe
field of education. One can predict that
in a few more years millions of schoolchildren will have access to what Philip of hlacedon’s son Alexander enjoyed as
a royal prerogative: the personal services
of a tutor as well-informed and responsive as Aristotle.
The basis for this seemingly extravagant prediction is not apparent in many examinations of the computer’srole in
education today.
In themselves, howel’er, such examinations provide impressive evidence of the importance of computers on the educational scene, As an example, a recent report of the National
Academy of Sciences states that by mid1965 more than 800 computers were in service on the
of various
American universities and these
institutions spent $175 nillion for computers that year. The report goes on to forecast that by 1968 the universities’
annual budget for computer operations
will reach $300 million andthattheir

total investment in computing facilities
will pass $500 million.
A similar example is representedby
the fact that most colleges of engineeringandevenmanyhigh
schools now
use computers to train students in computer
just as
important as the imposition of formal
course requirements at the college level
is the increasingly widespreadattitude
among college studentsthata
knomledge of computers is a“must” if their
engineering or scientific training is to be
up to date. Undergraduates of my generation who majored in engineering, for instance,
symbol of their
prowess. Today being able to program a
as FORTRA4Nor ALGOL is much more
likely to be the appropriate symbol.
At the graduate level students in the
social sciences and in business administration are already making use of computers in a variety of ways, ranging from the large-scale analysis of data to
the simulation of an industry. The time
is rapidly approaching when a high percentage of all university graduates will havehad some systematictrainingin
the use of computers; a significant percentage of them Will havehadquite sophisticated training. An indication of
thegrowth of studentinterest in computers is the increase in student units of computer-science
instruction have

had at Stanford University over the past
four years. Although total enrollment at
Stanford increased onlyslightly during
that period; the number of student units
rose from 2,572 in 1962-1963 to 5,642
in 1965-1966.
The fact that time-sharing programs
becoming operational
many university computation
justifies the forecast of another increase
in the impact of computers on the universities [ see“Time-sharing on Computers,” by R. M . Fano and F. J . Corbató, page
1281. Under
regimes a muchlargernumber
of students can be given direct “on line’’
experience, which
in itself is psychologically attractive and, from the practical viewpoint, facilitates deeper study of the use of computers.There is still
anotherfar fromtrivialway
in which
serves the
education: The large school system that
does not depend on computers for many
administrativeand service functions is
today the exception...
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