A computer has several applications in instructional situations. It is used to find the entry level of students’ knowledge on enrolment. It is also used to plan and print individualized programmes, monitor a student’s progress and compile tests and scores. But the most important contribution of computer in the domain of instruction is Computer- Assisted Instruction (CAI) and Computer-Managed Instruction (CMI).
Computer-assisted instruction: In computer-assisted instruction, there is flow of information and interaction between the computer and the learner. The computer delivers instructions directly to students and allows them to interact with it through the lessons programmed in the system. A computer provides feedback to the learner on the basis of his/her performance. On the whole it may be said, that the computer acts as a teacher to the student. In order to carry out this teaching/learning function, a computer utilizes various instructional modes.
(i) Drill and practice:
In this mode, a computer presents the learner with a series of exercises which he or she must do by giving some response. It provides the learner some feedback about the answer in the form of a congratulatory message if it is right or a corrective comment if it is wrong.
(ii) Tutorial mode:
In the tutorial mode, as in programmed instruction, information is presented in small units followed by a question. The student’s response is analysed by the computer and appropriate feedback is given.
(iii) Stimulation mode:
Learning experiences regarding real life systems of phenomena are provided to the learner through this mode. For example, the study of genetics, experiments in town planning, the operation of a system, etc., can be shown to the student through simulation in the computer.
(iv) Discovery mode:
This mode uses inductive approach to learning wherein the problems are presented and the learner solves them through trial and error.
(v) Gaming mode:
In gaming mode teaching can be imparted, through a play way mode.
In computer-managed instruction (CMI) the computer gathers, stores and manages information to guide students through individualized learning experiences. The computer helps the student to move through check-points (in the form of definite activities) in the education process at different times via different paths matching the individual capabilities. It achieves this individualized instructional process by a series of activities- administering diagnostic tests, scoring them, prescribing the appropriate paths and monitoring the progress of individuals all along the route.