CAL is the short form of Computer Assisted Learning. It is the activity where teaching and learning in any part of the curriculum are aided by some application of the computer.

Functions of CAL are:

Management of learning

1. Testing


2. Tutoring

3. Exercising

4. Use of a computer as a calculator

5. Use of a computer as a laboratory


6. Use of a computer for producing technical materials

7. Dissemination of material

8. Archival of material

9. Medium of expression.


Modes of CAL: The major modes of CAL can be given as follows: L Drill and Practice

2. Tutorial

3. Dialogue/Conversational

4. Games


5. Simulation

6. Databases

7. Narrative/Presentational

(1) Drill and Practice:


Drill and Practice is the simplest form of CAL. A series of exercises is presented to a student by the computer. The student gives a response. The response is processed by the computer and accordingly new activity is designed. Exercises can be created by the computer by avoiding repetition. The items can be selected randomly from the list and presented.

As a response to the exercise, the programme either asks the students to try again till it is right or provides a chance or just states the right answer. The responses are also analysed to mark the success or to assert the need of more study. The questions in the drill and practice are of these types: fill in the blanks, which are the odd man out, correct or wrong, answer in a word/sentence, multiple choices. Activities like drawing, measuring and arranging objects are also possible on computer. Generally, typing of long answers is avoided in CAL.

(2) Tutorial:

In tutorial, the topic to be studied is divided into a sequence of short sections called frames. It bears a close resemblance to the programmed learning sequences found in print and in teaching machines in 1960’s. The programmed text presents a number of problems, particularly in determining whether the student has really mastered the current step and in deciding how to branch to the next step.


The computer can be used to determine students’ needs and preferences and to decide how to branch through material. The material can be more complex without adding to the students’ burden.

Thus in the field of branching, the computer opens up a range of possible branching which would have been difficult to arrange in the scrambled text or primitive teaching machine. The computer can be programmed to branch any number of alternative pages in text where there are many different routes. In tutorial, each learner can be diagnosed at every small stage and be led to a new path according to his/her need.

(3) Conversation or Dialogue:

In dialogue tutorials the computer is engaged in learning about the learner. Thus they try to improve and further individualise the instructional strategy being used. Deep questioning techniques and multifaceted analyses of the responses given by the student can help in building complex interactive dialogues.

(4) Games:

The modes discussed earlier provide information in a structured way, according to rules specified by the author. Gaming involved with a dimension of competition motivates learners to approach the given situation with enthusiasm. If learning concepts are taught or given for practice through games, learners generally tend to stick to it regardless of the time it consumes.

Video games as well as computer games, without any educational input are very popular with children who have access to a computer. If they are provided with instructional games, they will certainly acquire new concepts and skills.

(5) Simulation:

Computer can be used to simulate a real life system by following a set of rules, which approximate the behaviour of the real system. The rules specified for simulation may be simple or complex and quality of approximation can be governed.

Various levels of approximation can be provided in the same simulation courseware. Simulation offers flexibility and control. In simulation, the particular feature of the computer as an ultra rapid calculating and data processing machine is used to its best advantage.

(6) Databases:

One of the modes of learning is learning through exploration of resource material and library utilization. The power of a computer to store, retrieve and process information is used to help the student as s/he browses through the material. One can respond to the questions about the related information and retrieve an item which one needed, summarise statistical data, suggest possible times of investigation that may be of interest.

As in the library a book or a resource material can be found using subject code, author index or title index. One can provide such key works to the computer to find resource material. Unlike books, material stored in a main­frame computer can be made available at all the terminals at a time.

(7) Narrative/Presentational:

Here the computer screen is used to present material to the student in a form sometimes referred to as an electronic blackboard. Along with normal verbal approach, movement and animation can be used with colours and music. Simple presentations can easily be developed by teachers to introduce learners to new information, e.g. a teacher can develop slide shows using MS-Power Point or even develop web-pages using Front-Page.