PC-Based Course Lets Student Input Affect Instructional Process

Article excerpt

PC-Based Course Lets Student Input Affect Instructional Process

To challenge reservations about using the personal computer to support classroom instruction, a teacher at North Texas State University recently developed and delivered a 72-minute, computer-based course on using a library retrieval system. The instructor's background in personal computer usage was very limited, yet the course he created utilized a sophisticated--yet low-cost--technology that holds much educational promise.

Administrators monitored this project closely in an effort to determine the technology's usability, its acceptance by the teacher and the reaction of students within the new instructional environment.

Classroom equipment comprised an IBM PC compatible, an overhead projector, an LCD projection device connecting the PC to the overhead projector, a remote-control device for the instructor and ten-digit response pads for each student. Instructional materials were prepared and produced using Teaching Assistant software from HyperGraphics Corp. of Denton, Texas.

The instructor employed the remote-control device to deliver instruction, solicit responses from the class (via the response pads) and make instructional decisions based upon objective, real-time class data.

Other functions supported by the remote-control device included repeating an instructional segment or question, retreating or backtracking within the instruction, proceeding directly to a specific instructional unit and accessing an always-available glossary for each instructional unit. Furthermore, with the device, the teacher was able to move about freely while proceeding through the instructional materials.

Instant-Remediation Capability

Students, for their part, were equipped with the aforementioned ten-digit response pads, through which they could anonymously respond to questions posed by the instructor. Their responses were, in turn, used by the teacher to determine the flow of instruction.

Prior to the initial delivery of the course, the instructor practiced with the material and the remote-control device for about 30 minutes. Only one key on the remote control is generally needed to provide routine instruction, but, during presentation of the actual course, the teacher became adept at employing others. …