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Computer assisted instruction is the use of computers as a teaching method and for assessing students


The terminology for systems which integrate and manage computer-based learning has changed over the years. Terms which are useful in searching for earlier materials include:

  • "Computer Assisted Instruction" (CAI)
  • "Computer Based Training" (CBT)
  • "Computer Managed Instruction" (CMI)
  • "Course Management System" (CMS)
  • "Integrated Learning Systems" (ILS)
  • "Interactive Multimedia Instruction" (IMI)
  • "Learning Management System" (LMS)
  • "Massive open online course" (MOOC)
  • "Technology Based Learning" (TBL)
  • "Technology Enhanced Learning" (TEL)
  • "Web Based Training" (WBT)
  • "On Demand Training" (ODT)


In 1960, the University of Illinois initiated a classroom system based in linked computer terminals where students could access informational resources on a particular course while listening to the lectures that were recorded via some form of remotely device like television or audio device.[1]

In the early 1960s, Stanford professors Patrick Suppes and Richard C. Atkinson began researching whether computers could be effectively used in schools to teach math and reading to children. At the time, their area of research was known as computer-aided education. Atkinson eventually left to pursue a career as an administrator (he would retire as President of the University of California), but Suppes stayed. Later Suppes extended his research to college-level material, and computer-based courses in Logic and Set Theory were offered to Stanford undergraduates from 1972 to 1992.

In 1985, Suppes received a "proof of concept" grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a computerized first-year calculus course with the initial objective of making it available to students in their last year of high school who were at schools that did not otherwise offer calculus. Suppes, together with a team that included Raymond Ravaglia, the current Executive Director of EPGY, began work on the course in earnest in 1987. When the course was ready for testing in 1990, the focus was turned to younger students who had been accelerated in their mathematics educations. For the summer of 1990, approximately 40 junior high and high school students with some knowledge of algebra were selected for a five-week instructor-taught accelerated precalculus course at Foothill College. Of those students, thirteen located at seven local schools were invited to take the computer-based calculus course during the subsequent school year, 1990-91. All thirteen took the Advanced Placement AB Calculus examination in May 1991. Six students scored 5, six scored 4, and one scored 3.

Following this initial success, computer-based courses in Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and Precalculus were created to replace the accelerated summer course. These courses were tested during the 1991-92 academic year with a new group of students. At the same time, the calculus course was expanded to include the material necessary for the BC examination. That year four students took the BC examination, with all scoring 5.

After porting the software to the Windows operating system, the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies, then known as the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY), was formally launched at Stanford University, in fall 1992, making these courses generally available.

In 1963, Bernard Luskin installed the first computer in a community college for instruction, working with Stanford and others, developed computer assisted instruction. Luskin completed his landmark UCLA dissertation working with the Rand Corporation in analyzing obstacles to computer assisted instruction in 1970.

Computer-based learning made up many early e-learning courses such as those developed by Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz in the 1970s and 80s at the New Jersey Institute of Technology,[2] and the ones developed at the University of Guelph in Canada.[3] In 1976, Bernard Luskin launched Coastline Community College as a "college without walls" using television station KOCE-TV as a vehicle. By the mid-1980s, accessing course content become possible at many college libraries.

Cassandra B. Whyte researched about the ever increasing role that computers would play in higher education. This evolution, to include computer-supported collaborative learning, in addition to data management, has been realized. The type of computers has changed over the years from cumbersome, slow devices taking up much space in the classroom, home, and office to laptops and handheld devices that are more portable in form and size and this minimalization of technology devices will continue.[4]

See also


  1. Wolley, David, and as so many people had insisted. Group Notes is one. "PLATO: The Emergence of Online Community." Thinkofit: Consultants in Online Communication. David R. Woolley, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <>.
  2. Hiltz, S. (1990) ‘Evaluating the Virtual Classroom’, in Harasim, L. (ed.) Online Education: Perspectives on a New Environment New York: Praeger, pp. 133–169
  3. Mason. R. and Kaye, A. (1989) Mindweave: Communication, Computers and Distance Education Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press
  4. Whyte, Cassandra Bolyard (1989) Student Affairs-The Future.Journal of College Student Development.30.86-89.