Learning is a process that is influenced significantly by the combination and interactions of three main areas of influence: agent, activity and world. A number of writers have used other descriptions for these influencing factors. In the succeeding discussion of computer-based learning environments, we have found it useful to describe learning using a framework of three mutually constitutive elements based on these factors which represent the actions and activities of the different elements in the learning process: the learner, the teacher and the learning materials [Herrington & Oliver, 1996]. This framework of three elements provides a useful form for considering factors influencing instruction and learning in computer-based environments. It recognizes that in any learning setting, the principal factors in determining the scope and extent of learning are the actions and interactions of the learners, the teachers and the nature of instructional episodes. It appears in many settings where WWW-based learning materials are used for teaching and learning that the most consideration and thought is given to materials design and the least consideration and thought is given to the ways in which the materials will be implemented. The roles of the teacher and students are often considered less important than the materials themselves.
Many of the computer-based environments developed for students today, are designed for individual students working on individual computers. There has been a tendency in recent years for software developers to create learning materials that provide instruction and direction to independent learners and much of this development has led us away from conventional and effective teaching practices which frequently include group and cooperative learning as design elements.
PURPOSE OF THE REPORT
The purpose of this research is to explore the applications of Computer Based Learning (CBL) within the boundaries of professional and educational spheres. Differences of opinions as to the positive and negative implications of CBL will also be discussed. The various impacts of CBL in terms of excellence in academics and the productivity of the different professions in the corporate world are also evaluated as part of the discussion. The report would also touch on CBL applications used in both the university and corporate fields. Finally, the emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the implications of it as it shapes the future of CBL in both professional and academic applications.
BACKGROUND OF THE TOPIC
The level of development of computer-based learning materials has risen dramatically in recent years as a consequence of the new and exciting opportunities presented by the World Wide Web (WWW). Much of the popularity of the WWW has come from the relative ease with which materials can be developed which support open and student-centered learning. The WWW enables the development of powerful sources of information which can support learning through organization and access strategies based on hypertext and hypermedia linking. The WWW facilitates student-centered instructional settings creating a motivating and active learning environment. It supports and encourages browsing and exploration, learner behaviors that are frequently associated with higher-order learning [Becker and Dwyer, 1994]. Overnight, many teachers have become software developers using the simple and powerful authoring tools supported by WWW-based technologies. But the nature of WWW and associated instructional materials is often one of information delivery and presentation and many writers are beginning to question the effectiveness of the WWW-based learning environments to which students are exposed. With any form of information or knowledge, providing students with access to meaningful content does not guarantee learning, a factor frequently overlooked by developers of WWW-based learning materials. What...
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