Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Film Based Teaching Machine

The photo here is one that appeared in a book published by Harper & Brothers in 1962, entitled '1975: And the Changes to Come', written by Arnold B. Barach and the Kiplinger Washington Editors, predicting how technology would change our lives in 1975.

The caption associated with this particular photo is: "Film Based Teaching Machine. Student pushes one of four buttons to give answers and his score appears on paper slip at upper right. Teaching machines, expected to boom in the next decade, usually operate on the principal of repetition until the pupil understands. They aim to speed up the learning process and relieve teacher of much paper work in the classroom. "

I think we might have achieved this one? Although, I can't remember - have we decided that repetition exercises are good or bad, or does it depend ...?


Iain said...

When I was a student in Edinburgh University there were still a number of 'teaching machines' available in the library for tape/slide programmes that you could use for self-study. Less fancy than this one in the picture,they were used for maths courses and had lots of slides with diagrams and cassette based commentary.

In a sense the key issue is not the technology but the pedagogy that is used. memorising, repeating and testing might be appropriate for certain types of learning activity, but clearly not generically. But if you look at much of computer based learning in the past it has basically followed this pattern albeit with more expensive and more glamorous equipment!

andrew said...

Requiring students to teach (ie test!) themselves on the machine may work mainly because they're given a motivation to look at their notes and textbooks beforehand?

Perhaps a bigger revolution since 1962 in not teaching machines, but engaging and high quality textbooks.