Printer Friendly

Technologies Supporting Highly Interactive Learning Resources on the Web: An Analysis.

Advances in desktop computer technology have made possible the development of interactive learning resources, which allow the learner to explore, experiment, and construct within graphical environments. Such resources are consistent with contemporary educational theory, and in particular the constructivist view of teaching and learning, which emphasizes learners actively constructing their own knowledge representation. However, there seem to be very few examples of web-based learning resources employing these interactive techniques. This article analyses the technological capabilities of the Web as a delivery platform for highly interactive learning resources, consistent with a constructivist view of learning. The analysis shows that all of the required software capabilities can be implemented by web technologies, but that developers will need to master a number of complex techniques. The article also discusses some of the barriers to the use of the Web as a medium for such resources, including bandwidth, the lack of standardisation of web browsing software and the complexity of web technologies.

During the 1990s the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) began to capture the imagination of many educators. The massive increase in the number of computers connected to the Internet, both in homes and educational institutions, along with the usability of web browsers, has made the Web accessible to the majority of teachers and students in developed countries. This has coincided with a massive increase in the quantity of information accessible, making the Internet and specifically the Web the most important new educational technology for some time.

The Web has the potential to support a wide range of learning activities. These activities can be grouped into the following classes:

* communicating with teachers and other learners without the need to synchronize in time or place;

* attending to static learning resources, which may include text, graphics, animations, audio and video;

* researching and independently seeking information, with the Web effectively providing access to a huge virtual library; and

* constructing and articulating ideas, exploring and manipulating models, and solving problems, within an interactive learning resource.

The first three classes of activity have been the focus of the majority of the web-based learning materials that have been developed to date. Resources facilitating the fourth class of activity are much less common on the Web. This is despite the strong body of research support (e.g. Jonassen, 1996; Rieber, 1994; Alessi & Trollip, 1995) and the numerous successful examples on hard disk and CD-Rom, such as Exploring the Nardoo (Harper, Hedberg, & Wright, 1996), The Geometer's Sketchpad (1995), Sim City (Wright, 1989) and SemNet (Fisher, 1992). It is these resources, here termed highly interactive learning resources, which are the focus of this article.

The term interactive is widely used within the educational technology literature and the software industry in general. However, as discussed by Sims (1999), a range of different meanings has been attached to the term. In this article, the term interactivity refers primarily to human-computer interaction, rather than human-human interaction. Using this definition of the term interactive, highly interactive learning resources can be defined as resources that facilitate a high degree of interaction between the learner and the resource. Although web-based learning resources incorporating Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) tools can allow a great deal of interaction between people, they do not necessarily facilitate interaction between the learner and the resource, and thus they are not termed highly interactive learning resources within this article.

The article analyses the capabilities of the Web as an interactive learning platform. As well as discussing fundamental web technologies, such as the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) the article also discusses the capabilities of interactive enhancements, including Dynamic HTML, Java Applets and plug-ins such as Shockwave.

The use of interactive learning resources is well supported by contemporary educational theory and especially constructivist theories of learning. The analysis begins with an overview of Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) resources that are consistent with constructivist theory, with particular emphasis on those that can be classified as highly interactive learning resources.

Having identified the types of CAL resource that are the focus of the article, the software capabilities necessary to implement each are identified. An overview of web technologies is provided, before an analysis of the extent to which the technologies address the required software capabilities is presented. Finally, additional barriers to the use of the Web as a medium for interactive learning resources are discussed.

INTERACTIVE LEARNING RESOURCES

Constructivism

The constructivist view of learning, which has become widely accepted within the educational community in recent years, can be summarized with three broad principles. The fundamental principle, attributed to Kant and later adopted by Dewey, is that people form their own representation of knowledge (Von Glaserfeld, 1984). The second principle, normally attributed to Piaget, is that people learn through active experience, and that learning occurs when the learner's exploration uncovers an inconsistency between their current knowledge representation and their experience (McInerney & McInerney, 1994; Slavin, 1994). The third principle, normally attributed to Vygotsky, is that learning occurs within a social context, with interaction between learners, their peers and other members of the learning community being an important part of the learning process (Vygotsky, 1978).

Although there is general agreement about the broad principles, there are differing interpretations, which emphasize different aspects of the way people learn and different approaches to the process of facilitating learning. For example, individual learning, involving exploration of objects, the environment, or a computerized simulation, is very consistent with Piaget's theories. On the other hand, collaborative learning, which may involve the use of the computer to mediate the communication process, is very consistent with Vygotsky's theories.

Constructivist Learning Resources

A consequence of the different interpretations of constructivism is that a wide range of GAL resources have been labelled constructivist (see Harper & Hedberg, 1997 or Dalgarno, 2001, for an analysis of the consequences of constructivism for CAL). This section describes the various types of CAL resources that tend to be labelled constructivist and identifies those that can be considered to be highly interactive for the purposes of this article.

Hypermedia environments, which consist of static text, graphics, and other media, and allow learner-controlled exploration of information are consistent with the constructivist emphasis on active exploration and individual knowledge construction. However, the degree of learner-computer interaction is limited, with learners simply clicking repeatedly to follow hypermedia links. Consequently, such resources are not considered to be highly interactive learning resources for the purposes of this article.

Resources that include CMC tools are consistent with the constructivist emphasis on learning within a social context and on interaction with members of the learning community. However, because the degree of learner-computer interaction is quite limited (as distinct from learner-learner or learner-teacher interaction), such resources are not considered to be highly interactive learning resources within this article.

Resources that allow the learner to explore conceptual ideas, manipulate information, and construct their own representation of knowledge and which provide support and feedback on the learning process are also very consistent with constructivist principles. Such resources facilitate a high degree of learner-computer interaction, and consequently it is these resources that are the focus of this article. They include the following:

* simulations and microworlds, which allow the learner to explore, manipulate or construct within a world and consequently to discover real or abstract concepts within the domain;

* resources containing animated guides or intelligent agents, which provide adaptive guidance to the learner as they explore an environment or carry out tasks;

* cognitive tools, which assist the learner in constructing representations of their knowledge;

* practice tools, which require the learner to carry out specific tasks or answer specific questions and provide feedback on the learner's performance; and

* scaffolding tools, which provide support as learners carry out authentic tasks.

Highly Interactive Learning Resources

A simulation can be defined as an interactive model of a real world environment (Thurman, 1993), whereas a microworld can be defined as a model of a concept space, which may be a very simplified version of a real world environment, or may be a completely abstract environment. Normally, a user can create some sort of constructions within the microworld, which will behave in a way consistent with the concepts being modelled (Papert, 1993; Rieber, 1992). A well known example of a simulation is Sim City (Wright, 1989), which allows the learner to plan the development of a city and simulates population growth, employment, taxation, and natural disasters. Logo (Papert, 1993) is the most commonly cited example of a microworld. It allows learners to explore the characteristics of shapes by issuing commands to a graphical turtle, which draws as it moves.

Although a high degree of learner control is desirable in constructivist CAL resources, there is usually a need for pedagogical guidance, to assist with constructing learning goals and selecting tasks. This guidance could be in the form of a context-sensitive help system, an animated guide or an intelligent agent, monitoring the browsing patterns of the learner (Wills, 1996; Oren, Salomon, Kreitman, & Abbe, 1990). Oren et at, (1990, p. 381) described guides as interface objects that provide "canned additions to the database rather than intelligent reformations of the content" and agents as "autonomous software entities that make choices and execute actions on behalf of the user."

Consistent with the constructivist emphasis on the learner's knowledge construction process is the use of metacognitive strategies, that is, strategies employed by the learner to improve their comprehension, retention, and individual construction of knowledge. It has been proposed that the use of computer-based cognitive tools can be of assistance with these strategies. According to Jonassen (1992, p. 4), such tools "amplify thinking and facilitate knowledge construction," while Wild and Kirkpatrick (1996, p. 414) state that these tools can "provide the means by which learners can construct, manipulate and evaluate representations of knowledge." These tools include text and hypertext editing tools, modelling tools, and concept mapping tools.

An important element of the instructional process is the provision of opportunities for the learner to put their knowledge into practice and receive feedback on their knowledge constructions. Simulations and microworlds can be very effective for this, but for some knowledge domains, simple practice modules, such as multiple choice, single word or numeric answer quizzes, or the graphical matching or grouping of words and symbols, can be quite effective.

One consequence of constructivist theory is the idea that learners should be given the opportunity to carry out realistic tasks. The provision of assistance or scaffolding to enable learners to complete the larger tasks without needing to learn all of the sub-tasks involved, is consistent with Vygotsky's emphasis on learners undertaking activities just beyond their capabilities, in what he terms their zone of proximal development (ZDP) (Vygotsky, 1978). Scaffolding can be provided in part by the computer through support software. The software may be designed specifically for the purpose, such as the lesson planning tool described by Wild and Kirkpatrick (1996); alternatively, general purpose software such as a language translator, a spell checker, a thesaurus, or a spreadsheet program can fill a similar role.

REQUIRED SOFTWARE CAPABILITIES

Having described the various classes of highly interactive learning resource, this section discusses the software capabilities that support the implementation of each. It begins with a discussion of general software capabilities that are likely to support the development of most classes of such resources. Software capabilities that support specific classes of resource are then identified. Finally, a table is presented that summarizes the capabilities supporting the development of each class of resource. This list of software capabilities is used later in the article as a basis for analysing the functionality of web technologies.

General Software Capabilities

The capabilities discussed in this section support the development of most classes of highly interactive learning resource.

* Displaying precreated pages of text, graphics and other media

* Jumping to new pages in response to user actions

These first two are fundamental software capabilities for the development of both static and interactive learning resources.

* Accepting text and numeric data entered into text boxes or fields

* Displaying generated text and calculated numeric data within text boxes or fields

These two capabilities support the development of less graphical simulations and microworlds, and cognitive, practice, and scaffolding tools.

* Detection of specific mouse and keyboard operations

This capability particularly supports the development of graphical simulations and microworlds, as well as graphical cognitive, practice, and scaffolding tools.

* Positioning precreated text, graphics, and other media within the page

This is an important software capability for all resources that include dynamic content, that is, content presented in response to user actions.

* Generation of images through software controlled drawing or painting

This is subtly different from displaying stored graphics. It is particularly necessary for graphical simulations and microworlds, and also the more graphical cognitive, practice and scaffolding tools.

* Internal representation of data structures

* Processing of text and numeric data

These two capabilities are important for any type of adaptive resource, where the content generated depends on the current state of an environment, a model that the learner has constructed, or a sequence of tasks undertaken by the learner.

* Saving of data structures to disk

Interactive resources that are to be used multiple times by a user need storage capability so that learners can resume their constructions, explorations, or manipulations.

* Support for modular, component-based, or object-oriented software architectures

Most simulations and microworlds and the more complex cognitive, practice, and scaffolding tools, will involve nontrivial programming, including many lines of code and manipulation of complex data structures. Software engineering theory suggests that modular or object-oriented software aschitectures allow such programs to be more robust and reusable (Meyer, 1988).

* Linking to other software, through software component architectures

Cognitive and scaffolding tools may make use of standard software components, such as HTML editors, spreadsheets, graphing tools, and spell-checkers. Consequently the ability to embed standard applications within a larger resource is important. Software architectures such as Microsoft's Component Object Model or the Java Beans architecture support this type of cooperation between applications.

Specific Software Capabilities

The following software capabilities support specific types of interactive learning resource. They tend to be higher level, in that they allow the generation of interactive resources without having to program the specific interactions from scratch.

* Support for navigating through precreated virtual environments

Instead of programming a simulation or microworld from scratch, there are now standard data formats for virtual environments and standard software modules for navigating through such environments. Examples include QuickTime VR and the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML).

* Support for display of predefined agents and scripting of agent actions

Standard software modules are now available that allow the definition of the animated persona of an agent, and which will then display the agent's various possible actions under the control of simple software commands.

* Maintaining a record of learner actions internally and on disk

This is a fundamental requirement for agents and guides.

* Ability to integrate with artificial intelligence software engines

The more complex intelligent agents require the system to maintain an internal representation of the learner's current understanding of the domain, which is then used to generate appropriate guidance. Standard Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques are used in this process, and consequently the ability to make use of an AI software engine is important.

* Support for the generation of quizzes

Such quizzes might consist of multiple choice or numeric answer questions, or might involve graphical exercises such as matching or grouping of words or pictures.

Summary of Required Software Capabilities

Table 1 lists the general and specific software capabilities identified above and indicates which classes of resource are likely to be supported by each capability.

The software capabilities identified in this section are used as the basis for analysing the capabilities of web technologies as a platform for highly interactive learning resources, later in the article. First, however, the following section provides an overview of web technologies.

WEB TECHNOLOGIES

In analysing web technologies, there are two sets of technologies to be analysed. First, there are the core technologies, which are implemented by all web servers and all web browser versions. Second, there are a number of addon technologies that provide additional capabilities, and particularly enhanced interactivity. These are termed interactive web technologies in this article.

Core Web Technologies

The Web is based upon a set of platform independent protocols to allow text, graphic, and multimedia information to be easily located and retrieved over the Internet. The important protocols are the Hypertext Transmission Protocol (HTTP), which provides the mechanism for transmitting the information, and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which defines the format of the pages that are displayed on the Web.

Because HTML is a markup language and not a programming language, the only interactivity possible in pages created using HTML alone is the following of links to other pages. Another limitation faced by designers is that direct media support is limited to GIF and JPEG images in most web browsers. Additional technologies that enhance the interactivity and media capabilities of the Web are discussed in the following section.

Interactive Web Technologies

The main technologies that enhance the interactivity provided by basic web pages, are plug-ins, Active-X controls, Applets, client-based scripts and server-based programs. These are discussed in the following sections. First, however, an earlier mechanism for linking to external software components, termed helper applications, is discussed.

Helper applications. When a user clicks on a link to a media or interactive element rather than an image file or another web page, this element must be handled by another application. Such an application is termed a helper application. A helper application is a program external to the web browser, which opens up a separate window before displaying the media or presenting the interactive component. This tends to distance the information from the text relating to it. An alternative is to embed the element within the page, and this can be done through the use of plug-ins or Active-X controls.

Plug-ins and Active-X controls. Plug-ins and Active-X controls will handle media content or interactive components embedded at a particular position within the page. Plug-ins are programs written to a Netscape specification, and preinstalled on the local (client) machine. A particular plug-in is normally designed to handle content of a specific type. For example the QuickTime plug-in displays QuickTime movie files. Both Netscape and Internet Explorer support plug-ins.

Active-X controls work just like plug-ins, but are written to a Microsoft specification. They are only directly supported by Internet Explorer. Plug-ins and Active-X controls can be used to handle particular types of media content, or alternatively can be used to support the embedding of an interactive component on the page. The following sections discuss some of the main plug-ins and Active-X controls that support interactive learning resources. Note that the more general term plug-in is used even though many of the examples identified are available as either plug-ins or Active-X controls.

CAL authoring plug-ins. A number of CAL Authoring tools allow the authored content to be embedded in a web page and handled by a specific plug-in. The two most widely used such tools are Macromedia Authorware that uses a plug-in called Shockwave and Asymetrix ToolBook which uses a plug-in called Neuron.

The interactivity of the resources produced using these tools can range from simple hypermedia links between pages, to graphical quizzes, to more complex graphical interactions. Authorware does not allow complex data structures to be stored and manipulated, but Toolbook provides a rich programming language with object-oriented data manipulation capabilities.

Multimedia plug-ins. Some authoring tools designed for the development of general purpose multimedia resources (rather than specifically CAL resources) also allow their content to be embedded in a web page and handled by a plug-in. For example Macromedia Director content is handled by the Shockwave plug-in. Additionally there are now a number of tools specifically designed for creating web multimedia content. Macromedia Flash creates content handled by the Shockwave plug-in. Real Networks' Real Presenter, Real Producer, and Real Slideshow each produce content handled by the Real Player plug-in. Apple QuickTime Pro allows content to be produced that is handled by the QuickTime plug-in.

These tools allow the creation of multimedia resources including text, graphics, animations, video, and audio, with interactivity ranging from simply clicking to view another frame, in the case of Real Presenter, to complex graphical interaction, in the case of Director and Flash.

Virtual environment plug-ins. There are a number of tools available for creating virtual environments, with the formats created supported by plug-ins. For example Apple's QuickTime VR authoring tools allow photo-realistic environments to be created. These can then be embedded within a web page and explored using the QuickTime plug-in. A more powerful alternative is the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML), which is a standard for 3D environments. VRML includes support for scripting, so objects within the environment can respond to user actions, and complex graphical simulations can be created. VRML files can be embedded within a web page and are handled by VRML plug-ins, including Cosmo Player, World View and Blaxxun Contact.

Other plug-Ins. In addition to those previously identified, there are a number of plug-ins that support specific types of interactive learning resources. For example, the Microsoft Agent Active-X control allows web pages to include embedded agents with built-in appearance and behaviour, controlled through client-side scripting (scripting is discussed later). Another example is Chime, a plug-in that displays a 3D representation of chemical molecules.

Java Applets. Another way to embed interactive components is through the use of Java Applets, which are programs written in the Java language, and which are executed by the browser. Java Applets can be programmed from scratch in the Java language. Alternatively multimedia and CAL authoring tools, such as Macromedia Director and Asymetrix Toolbook will generate Java Applets.

Client-based scripts. A client-based script is a program integrated with the HTML file, which is executed by the web browser on the learner's computer. Such scripts are normally written in the JavaScript or VBScript languages. Used in conjunction with Cascading Stylesheets (CSS), a mechanism that allows the exact position of images and text on the page to be specified, they can allow the visibility, size, and position of content to be changed in response to user actions. The use of stylesheets and client-side scripts together is often termed Dynamic HTML (DHTML). As well as detecting mouse and keyboard operations, such scripts can also process data entered into fields within HTML forms.

Server-based programs. All of the interactive web technologies identified above make use of programs executed on the learner's computer. However, there are a number of mechanisms for enhancing the interactivity of pages by executing programs on the web-server computer. This is particularly important if the learner needs to be able to resume their explorations or constructions at a later date, using another computer. There is also scope for the use of server-based programs that generate the HTML on pages dynamically, depending on learner actions. This is likely to be particularly useful for simulations and microworlds and for agents.

THE WEB AS A PLATFORM FOR HIGHLY INTERACTIVE LEARNING RESOURCES

Having discussed web technologies in general terms, this section looks at their capabilities for implementing highly interactive learning resources. First, the extent to which these web technologies are able to support the required software capabilities identified earlier is analysed. The specific capabilities supported by each web technology are shown in Table 2. The additional barriers to the use of the web as a medium for highly interactive learning resources are then discussed.

Addressing the Required Software Capabilities

Table 2 shows that all of the software capabilities that support the development of highly interactive learning resources are fulfilled by web technologies. This means that the development of highly interactive learning resources for the Web is certainly possible. However, each of the web technologies listed supports only some of the desired software capabilities. Consequently, highly interactive learning resources developed for web delivery may require the use of a number of different web technologies. This means that web development of such resources is likely to be more complex than development of the same resources for CD-Rom delivery. This additional barrier and other barriers to the use of the Web are discussed in the following section.

Additional Barriers to Web Delivery

Additional barriers to the development of web-based interactive learning resources include bandwidth limitations, the difficulties in ensuring that the learner's computer has the required software, and the complexity of web development. These are each discussed in turn.

Bandwidth limitations. Currently the majority of home users of the Internet have relatively low bandwidth connections, ranging from 14,400 bits per second to 57,600 bits per second. This means that a one megabyte resource that loads in under a second on a CD-Rom, will take up to 10 minutes to load by way of the Internet. This is particularly a problem for resources that include substantial graphic, audio, or video content, or which make use of Java Applets or plug-in elements that have to be downloaded every time they are used.

The Internet bandwidth for most educational institutions tends to be slightly better, with many using ISDN, microwave or fibre optic links rather than phone lines. However, the effective transfer speed will almost always be slower than CD-Rom. It is generally agreed that the Internet bandwidth will continue to improve, but the limited bandwidth is a barrier to the use of web-based interactive learning resources at this time.

Client software requirements. A number of the interactive web technologies discussed above are available only in some browsers and versions. Specifically:

* Active-X is supported directly only by Internet Explorer;

* Java is only supported by version 3 or later browsers, and many of the Applets available are only supported by version 4 or later browsers;

* JavaScript for recognizing mouse operations and positioning content is only supported by version 4 or later of the browsers, and must be coded differently for Internet Explorer and Netscape; and

* VBScript is supported only by Internet Explorer.

Additionally, resources that use plug-ins require that the learner downloads and installs the plug-in the first time they use the resource. This may be time consuming if they have a low bandwidth connection and may be difficult if the learner is not familiar with the process of installing software.

These issues are less of a problem when the resources are used within a known environment, such as in a university or school computer lab, but are nevertheless an additional technical problem that must be addressed either by the teacher or by support staff.

Development complexity. The final barriers to the development of highly interactive learning resources on the Web are the tools available, and the expertise required. Technologies such as JavaScript or Java Applets, for example, require scripting or programming. This is in contrast to the leading tools for CD-Rom-based CAL resource development, such as ToolBook or Authorware which allow quite complex interaction without any scripting or programming (Dalgarno, 1998).

As discussed previously, many multimedia and CAL authoring programs allow some form of web delivery either through Java Applets or through the use of a plug-in. However, in most cases only some of the capabilities of the authoring tool can be used for resources that will be delivered on the Web. If other capabilities are required they must be programmed directly, possibly in a language such as Java, which is more difficult to use than the programming languages provided by the authoring tools.

An additional problem for developers is the fact that no one web technology addresses all of the required software capabilities. Consequently web developers must become familiar with a range of technologies and must be able to integrate the technologies together within the one resource. The rapidly changing nature of these technologies presents additional challenges to developers.

CONCLUSION

This article has identified five classes of highly interactive learning resource along with the software capabilities required to implement each. These software capabilities have been used as a basis for analysing the Web as a platform for highly interactive learning resources. A range of web technologies have been described and the extent to which each meets the required software capabilities has been analysed. This analysis will help designers choose technologies appropriate for the resources they are developing. Specifically, once designers are clear about the classes of learning resources their project will include, the summary tables will help identify the software capabilities required and the web technologies likely to be appropriate.

The analysis found that all of the required capabilities could be fulfilled by one or another of the web technologies available. Consequently, it can be concluded that all of the identified classes of highly interactive learning resource can be implemented on the Web. However, the complexity of web technologies and the fact that multiple technologies, programming languages and tools must be mastered by the developer, present barriers to the use of the Web as a medium for highly interactive learning resources. Additional barriers include the limited bandwidth of many people's existing Internet connection and the problem of ensuring that each learner has the required software on their computer.

Consequently, unless the electronic delivery of the developed resources or the use of the Internet's communication capabilities are important requirements, traditional CD-Rom delivery may be most appropriate for highly interactive learning resources. As the bandwidth improves, as web technologies become more standardized across browser platforms, and as more powerful and simpler to use web development tools become available, the Web may become a more attractive platform for highly interactive learning resources.

It is important that educational designers are aware of the capabilities and limitations of the various mediums (in particular the Web and CD-Rom) so that an appropriate choice of medium can be made. The decision to develop web-based resources should be made only after analysing the desired learning outcomes and the learner-computer, learner-teacher, and learner-learner interactions likely to facilitate the achievement of these outcomes. In too many cases a decision to use the Web is made very early, and the resources are then developed within the constraints of the bandwidth, client platform, and available development expertise. This can result in materials that fail to make use of the full potential of CAL resources.

References

Alessi, S.M., & Trollip, S.R. (1985). Computer-based instruction: Methods and development. NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Dalgarno, B. (1998, December). Tools for authoring constructivist computer assisted learning resources: A review. In R. Corderoy (Ed.) FlexibilITy: The next wave?, pp. 127-148. Proceedings of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education '98 conference. University of Wollongong. [Online]. Available: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/wollongong98/asc98-pdf/ascarti cles98.html [10 January 2001].

Dalgarno, B. (2001). Interpretations of constructivism and consequences for computer assisted learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(2), 183-194.

Fisher, K.M. (1992). Semnet: A tool for personal knowledge construction. In P.A.M. Kommers, D.H. Jonassen, & J.T. Mayers (Eds.), Cognitive tools for learning, pp. 81-97. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

The geometer's sketchpad [computer software]. (1995). Berkeley: Key Curriculum Press. [Online]. Available: http://www.keypress.com [10 January 2001].

Harper, B., & Hedberg, J. (1997). Creating motivating interactive learning environments: A constructivist view. In R. Kevill, R. Oliver, & R. Phillips (Eds.), What works and why, pp. 11-31. Proceedings of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education '97 conference. Curtin University of Technology, Perth, 8-10 December. [Online]. Available: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth97/articles/Harper/Harper .html [10 January 2001].

Harper, B., Hedberg, J., & Wright, R. (1996). Exploring the nardoo [computer software]. University of Wollongong, Interactive Multimedia Learning Laboratory. [Online]. Available: http://www.immll.uow.edu.au/IMMLL/index.htm [10 January 2001].

Jonassen, D.H. (1992) What are cognitive tools? In P.A.M. Kommers, D.H. Jonassen, & J.T. Mayes (Eds.), Cognitive tools for learning, pp. 8-26. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Jonassen, D.H. (1996). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology: a project of the association for educational communications and technology. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.

McInerney, D., & McInerney, V. (1994). Educational psychology constructing learning. Sydney: Prentice Hall.

Meyer, B. (1988). Object oriented software construction. Hemel Hempstead, UK: Prentice Hall.

Oren, T., Salomon, G., Kreitman, K., & Abbe, D. (1992). Guides: Characterizing the interface. In B. Laurel (Ed.), The art of human computer interface design, pp. 367-382. Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.

Papert, S. (1993). Mindstorms: Children, computers and powerful ideas. New York: Harvester and Wheatsheaf.

Rieber, L.P. (1992) Computer-based microworlds: A bridge between constructivism and direct instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 93-106.

Rieber, L.P. (1994). Computers, graphics and learning. Debuque, IA: Brown & Benchmark.

Sims, R. (1999). Interactivity on stage: Strategies for learner-designer communication. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 15(3), 257-272. [Online]. Available: http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/ajet/ajetl5/sims.html [10 January 2001].

Slavin R.E. (1994) Educational psychology theory and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Thurman R.A. (1993). Instructional simulation from a cognitive psychology viewpoint. Educational Technology Research and Development, 41(4), 75-89.

Von Glasserfeld, E. (1984). An introduction to radical constructivism. In P.W. Watzlawick (Ed.), The invented reality, pp. 17-40. New York: W. Norton & Company.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

Wild, M., & Kirkpatrick, D. (1996, January). Multimedia as cognitive tools: Students working with a performance support system. In C. McBeath & R. Atkinson (Eds.), The learning superhighway. New world? New worries? pp. 412-417. Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, Perth: Promaco Conventions.

Wills, S. (1996, January). Interface to interactivity In C. McBeath & R. Atkinson (Eds.), The learning superhighway. New world? New worries? pp. 4 19-425. Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, Perth: Promaco Conventions.

Wright, W. (1989). SimCity. Moraga, CA: Maxis.
Table 1
Software Capabilities Supporting Each Class of Highly Interactive
Learning Resource
 Simulations and Microworlds
Displaying pre-created pages of text, *
graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to *
user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered *
into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and *
keyboard operations
Displaying generated text and calculated *
numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics *
and other media within the page
Generation of images through software *
controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based *
or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through
software component architectures
Support for navigation through *
pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Guides and Agents
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to
user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered *
into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and *
keyboard operations
Displaying generated text and calculated *
numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics *
and other media within the page
Generation of images through software *
controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based *
or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through *
software component architectures
Support for navigation through
pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents *
and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions *
internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with *
artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Cognitive Tools
Displaying pre-created pages of text, *
graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to *
user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered *
into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and *
keyboard operations
Displaying generated text and calculated *
numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics *
and other media within the page
Generation of images through software *
controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based *
or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through *
software component architectures
Support for navigation through
pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Practice Tools
Displaying pre-created pages of text, *
graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to *
user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered *
into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and *
keyboard operations
Displaying generated text and calculated *
numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics *
and other media within the page
Generation of images through software *
controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based *
or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through *
software component architectures
Support for navigation through
pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes *
 Scaffolding Tools
Displaying pre-created pages of text, *
graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to *
user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered *
into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and *
keyboard operations
Displaying generated text and calculated *
numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics *
and other media within the page
Generation of images through software *
controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based *
or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through *
software component architectures
Support for navigation through
pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
Table 2
Software Capabilities of Web Technologies
 HTML Alone
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media *
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data
 structures
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Server-based Programs
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media *
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields *
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields *
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data
 structures *
Saving of data structures to disk *
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures *
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk *
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines *
Support for generation of quizzes
 Client-based Scripts
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields *
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations *
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields *
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page *
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data
 structures *
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Java Applets
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media *
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields *
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations *
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields *
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page *
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting *
Internal representation of data
 structures *
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures *
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures *
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 CAL Authoring Plug-Ins
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media *
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields *
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations *
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields *
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page *
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting *
Internal representation of data
 structures *
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures *
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes *
 Multimedia Plug-ins
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media *
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields *
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations *
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields *
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page *
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting *
Internal representation of data
 structures *
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data *
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures *
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Virtual Environment Plug-ins
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions *
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data
 structures
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments *
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
 Other Plug-ins
Displaying pre-created pages of text,
 graphics, and other media
Jumping to new pages in response to
 user actions
Accepting text and numeric data entered
 into text boxes or fields
Detection of specific mouse and keyboard
 operations
Displaying generated text and calculated
 numeric data within text boxes or fields
Positioning pre-created text, graphics
 and other media within the page
Generation of images through software
 controlled drawing or painting
Internal representation of data

 structures
Saving of data structures to disk
Processing of text and numeric data
Support for modular, component-based
 or object-oriented software architectures
Linking to other software, through
 software component architectures *
Support for navigation through
 pre-created virtual environments
Support for display of pre-defined agents
 and scripting of agent actions *
Maintaining a record of user actions
 internally and on disk
Ability to integrate with
 artificial-intelligence engines
Support for generation of quizzes
COPYRIGHT 2001 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:DALGARNO, BARNEY
Publication:Journal of Interactive Learning Research
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2001
Words:7439
Previous Article:Collaboration, Design, and Technology: Themes in the Architecture of Interactive Learning Environments.
Next Article:Formative Evaluation of Synchronous CMC Systems for a Learner-Centered Online Course.
Topics:


Related Articles
Information Technology and Staff Development: Issues and Problems Related to New Skills and Competence Acquisition.
A Collaborative Approach for Creating Curriculum and Instructional Materials.
Collaboration, Design, and Technology: Themes in the Architecture of Interactive Learning Environments.
Investigating undergraduate students' attitudes on the use of the networked technology.
The use of embedded scaffolds with hypermedia-supported student-centered learning.
Re-evaluating the effectiveness of a web-based learning system: a comparative case study.
A study of web-based learning environments focusing on atomic structure.
Data mining technology for the evaluation of learning content interaction.
Educause 2006 highlights: this year's conference focused on the theme "spurring innovation and marshalling resources.".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters