Instructional aids should not be confused with training media. Educators generally describe training media as any physical means that communicates an instructional message to students. For example, the instructor's voice, printed text, video cassettes, interactive computer programs, part-task trainers, flight training devices or flight simulators, and numerous other types of training devices are considered training media. Instructional aids, on the other hand, are devices that assist an instructor in the teaching-learning process. Instructional aids are not self-supporting; they are supplementary training devices. The key factor is that instructional aids support, supplement, or reinforce. In general, the coverage of instructional aids in the first part of this chapter applies to a classroom setting with one instructor and several students. The discussion about types of instructional aids begins with the most basic aids and progresses to the more complex and expensive aids. The last segment is about new training technologies which may apply to a typical classroom environment, as well as other training environments. While instructors may become involved in the selection and preparation of instructional aids, usually they are already in place. Instructors simply need to learn how to effectively use them. Instructional Aid Theory
For many years, educators have theorized about how the human brain and the memory function during the communicative process. There is general agreement about certain theoretical factors that seem pertinent to understanding the use of instructional aids. During the communicative process, the sensory register of the memory acts as a filter. As stimuli are received, the individual's sensory register works to sort out the important bits of information from the routine or less significant bits. Within seconds, what is perceived as the most important information is passed to the working or short-term memory where it is processed for possible storage in the long-term memory. This complex process is enhanced by the use of appropriate instructional aids that highlight and emphasize the main points or concepts. The working or short-term memory functions are limited by both time and capacity. Therefore, it is essential that the information be arranged in useful bits or chunks for effective coding, rehearsal, or recording. The effectiveness of the instructional aid is critical for this process. Carefully selected charts, graphs, pictures, or other well-organized visual aids are examples of items that help the student understand, as well as retain, essential information. Ideally, instructional aids should be designed to cover the key points and concepts. In addition, the coverage should be straightforward and factual so it is easy for students to remember and recall. Generally, instructional aids that are relatively simple are best suited for this purpose. Reasons for Use of Instructional Aids
In addition to helping students remember important information, instructional aids have other advantages. When properly used, they help gain and hold the attention of students. Audio or visual aids can be very useful in supporting a topic, and the combination of both audio and visual stimuli is particularly effective since the two most important senses are involved. Instructors should keep in mind that they often are salesmen of ideas, and many of the best sales techniques that attract the attention of potential clients are well worth considering. One caution-the instructional aid should keep student attention on the subject; it should not be a distracting gimmick. Clearly, a major goal of all instruction is for the student to be able to retain as much knowledge of the subject as possible, especially the key points. Numerous studies have attempted to determine how well instructional aids serve this purpose. Indications from the studies vary greatly-from modest results, which show a 10 to 15 percent increase in...
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