What Are the Different Types of Computer-Assisted Instruction?

G. Wiesen

Different types of computer-assisted instruction typically involve various subjects and the ways in which computers can be used to best assist in learning those subjects. This includes English, mathematics, science, and history that can all be enhanced beyond traditional classroom lessons by learning through the use of computer systems. Within these subject areas, however, there are also different approaches that can be utilized for computer-assisted instruction, such as sample problems for math and science, interactive maps and timelines for history, and numerous writing activities for English and other languages. These instruction methods can also demonstrate a wide range of interactive features as well.

Computer-assisted teaching utilizes computers to convey instruction.
Computer-assisted teaching utilizes computers to convey instruction.

Computer-assisted instruction refers to a form of learning that utilizes computers, and is typically intended as a way to supplement traditional teacher-based learning. This is in contrast to computer-based systems often developed to make the computer learning the primary method for students. Many forms of computer-assisted instruction are provided with textbooks and other learning systems, often as a media disc that can be used with a computer or downloadable programs and files from a related website.

Computer-assisted instruction can help with employee training.
Computer-assisted instruction can help with employee training.

Common types of computer-assisted instruction are based on the subject matter presented in these programs. Mathematics, for example, often utilizes interactive programs that present math problems for students and provides them with tools to answer the problem. These programs grant real-time feedback based on the information the student enters, allowing for faster responses than what is generally allowed by traditional classrooms and teachers. Science lessons can also be facilitated through such programs, and physical sciences such as chemistry and physics often utilize systems similar to those found in math.

Other types of computer-assisted instruction can be found in language studies and history. Studies of English and other languages can often use computer programs that provide sample sentences that are missing words, into which the student can input words and receive feedback based on the accuracy of the word. More interactive games and lessons can also be provided that stress vocabulary development and understanding of different sentence structures. History lessons that utilize computer-assisted instruction can include an interactive timeline that lets students select an event or period and then provides audio and video about that time. There are even interactive games that allow students to explore different times through the game interface.

Computer-assisted instruction can also be used to assist students who may have special needs for learning. Various disabilities can be partially overcome through different forms of technology, and concentrated, reinforced learning can often be more easily facilitated through a computer program than from an instructor. When this type of instruction is paired with the lessons and efforts of a trained teacher, then the benefits become even more pronounced.

Computer games can be used to teach basic skills to elementary students.
Computer games can be used to teach basic skills to elementary students.

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