Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI)

Posted: August 7th, 2013








Computer Aided Instruction




Computer Assisted Instruction

            Computer based instruction (CBI) and computer based education (CBE) are broad terms referring to any computer usage for educational purposes. Computer assisted instruction (CAI) is a somewhat narrower term that more often than not refers to stimulation activities, tutorial or drill and practice activities. Computer-managed instruction (CMI) is whereby the computer is used to give the learning objectives, record keeping, progress tracking and the assessment of the performance of the learner. CAI is a self-learning technique that involves interaction of the student with the instructional materials that are programmed. To present the instructional material, a computer is used. It uses a combination of sound, video, text and graphics to improve delivery to the student (Palloff & Pratt, 2001)

Advantages of CAI include; it provides one-on-one interaction with the student, it avails to one the freedom to experiment with different options, it offers privacy to shy learners, self-pacing enables students to work at their own pace and multimedia aids in faster understanding of concepts. In addition to this, it also has some disadvantages such as, it makes learning too mechanical and monotonous. Multimedia use may detract attention from the content, and not all CAI packages available in the market are good (Chapelle, 2001)

A learning activity that requires the use of CAI is in the teaching of biology. Biology is a subject that entails the study of life and living organisms, including their functions and structures, their evolution, origin, taxonomy and phylogenic relationships. This subject requires CAI because it requires utmost understanding of the concepts and since it offers the multimedia option, the learners find it easier to grasp the required concepts. CAI in this case is used as a complementary tool and not as the main teaching tool since the subject is quite interactive. The subject has various disciplines, but is divided into two broad parts, botany (study of plants), and zoology (study of animals). Due to this, it requires not only textbooks as the reference but also practical elements.

The learning needs that need to be addressed may include understanding of concepts and imparting of the right techniques in answering questions. These two needs are the basis of good performance in biology. It is expected that the student understands every concept taught. This means that the student should be able to apply whatever concept learned in class to his or her life. If the said student has understood the concepts and can apply them, it is easy for them to answer any questions related to the subject. However, for the student to excel, he or she requires a good technique for answering questions. This will enable them to answer the question they have been asked precisely.

Varieties of software are readily available in the market today. Computer software is a group of computer programs that give instructions to the computer on the action it is required to carry out. Adobe’s flash player is one such software. It plays flash videos, which is a file format that delivers the video over the internet using the flash player. There are two different file formats in adobe flash player, including flash video FLV and flash video F4V. The F4V format is the most widely used since it is ISO approved. It works only with flash player 9 update 3 and is not supported by the previous older versions of the flash player.

This software is best suited for the teaching of biology because it is multimedia-based software. This is because multimedia software provides audio and video formats hence one can select whatever they prefer to use. For a concept that requires a lot more understanding, both the video and audio format would be suitable because it offers a more interactive form of learning as opposed to the monotony of a lesson in class. The flash player also makes it easier for the student to recall the concepts taught since pictures are used in the presentation.

PowerLab is another example of software that can aid in the delivery of computer-assisted instruction. It was developed by ADinsruments primarily for use in physiology, biomedical engineering and pharmacology. It is designed for use primarily in teaching applications and in science research. It consists of LabChart software and an input device connected via a USB cable to the computer. The computer should have an operating system powered by Microsoft Windows or Macintosh. This software is particularly helpful in the case of practical concepts. For instance, in clinical concepts like measurement of blood pressure, cardiac output, heart rate variability (HRV) and even the heart rate. It is preferred to the manual method since it saves on time and increases the level of accuracy.

The internet is a better source of information and educational materials. This is because it is less cumbersome to search for the needed material, as opposed to looking for it in books (Feldman, 2008). Internet sites may be used in the classroom as reference sites or as additional information sources apart from the textbooks or notes provided. In information publishing, the internet aids by providing a cost-effective option to using publishing houses (Courtney, 2007) Due to its vast size, it also offers a wide range of research materials. While publishing, teachers and students should use legitimate publishers as some may be fake and they may end up losing their work to fraudsters. The concern that may arise from the use of the internet in class is the authenticity of the sources of information, for example. This is because some articles may not have a definite source of reference while some may be biased. The issue of security is also a source of concern since private information is available to even criminals. To limit exposure to security threats, one should be careful about exposure of private information to strangers especially since they may use it to cause harm.


Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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