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A Literature Review on: An Exploration of Internet Programming Technologies for Learning

Wayne State University CSC5750 Principles of Web Technology

Susan Genden

Susan Genden aw0809

Abstract This literature review offers a commentary on programming applications specifically in the area of emerging online technologies for learning. Included is a brief history on the growth of these instructional technologies. We explore four literature reviews that discuss intelligent tutors (used on a one-to-one basis and in a collaborative environment), and virtual reality environments. These publications show students working online successfully in a range of learning situations, where students become more active learners and exercise various choices in the process. Intelligent tutors can be designed to adapt to individual learning styles, and to other learner characteristics. Virtual reality environments offer unique immersive learning experiences. Programmers and researchers are working diligently to develop custom intelligent solutions to online learning needs. Evaluations presented show positive results to date. Obstacles still remain to development in terms of costs and other factors. Implementation and research continue.

Introduction Internet technologies are changing our lives and our educational systems (Sheybani, & Javidi, 2004). This literature review presents an overview of four articles on the development of technologies used in online computer based education. The articles reflect continuing change as technology advances become pervasive. Theories about learning environments, and programming and hardware capabilities continue to change. People want educational opportunities that provide flexibility in terms of access, time management, and control (Hooper, & Reinartz, 2002). Education online will indeed become even more accessible, more convenient, and there will be learning environments tailored to the learner’s choices (Jalobeanu, 2003). Educators will have to make the extra effort to keep online learning interesting (Porter, 2005). Researchers are working hard to meet increased programming needs. There are at least two threads of development that lead to our current state in online instruction. One reflects the development of artificial intelligence or AI. The other area reflects instructional technology changes. A few milestones in AI include: in the 1950s, Norbert Weiner discussed feedback


Susan Genden aw0809

loops such as the way thermostats measure temperature changes and adjust their settings. He said that intelligent behavior worked in the same way, and might be simulated by computers (, 2006). Newell, Simon, and Shaw created the first artificial intelligence program, Logic Theorist, in 1955-56 (Stottlerhenke Associates, Inc., 2006). In the 1960s, Eliza, a computer for language between people and computers, was developed, and used intelligent agents (Piramuthu, 2005). The other area of development became apparent in the 1950s, when IBM research teams created computer assisted instructional programs for public schools. People had high expectations for educational use that were not attained. This low level of development continued though the 1960s, 1970s (the PLATO system) and the 1980s. Also in the 1980’s, Papert developed the Logo programming language and children learned to develop simple programming skills (LeFrancois, 2006). By the mid 1980’s, computer use in the schools had expanded to 40% of United States elementary schools and almost twice that in the high schools. By the mid 1990s, computers were integrated primarily in word processing or drill and practice exercises (Reiser, 2002). Since 1995, with the growth of expanded capabilities in multimedia, bandwidth, and programming technologies, the use of the Internet for instruction expanded and enrollments increased. By 1998, 78% of public four-year colleges and universities offered online classes (Reiser). The military, business, and educational institutions began to increase computer based online training in order to make training more accessible at lower cost. Students could learn at their convenience, and could limit training to precise information. Educators became increasingly aware of opportunities to create online learning that would offer more student autonomy and more student control, attributes of constructivist learning (Reiser). There are now over 10 million students online globally (Jalobeanu, 2003). Universities use learning management systems such as, WebCT,,, and skillsoft (Piramuthu, 2005). Some expectations in online learning courses are: they should offer expert information, practice, guidance, experience, feedback, assessments and flexibility (Alessi, & Trollip, 2001). Beyond that, intelligent tutors are meant respond to students’ individual abilities and provide more interactivity (Ong & Ramachandran, 2003). Can the learner actively explore and control the experience? Is


Susan Genden aw0809

collaborative learning taking place? Is the online learning interesting to learners? Online environments may include behavioral components (such as Skinner’s operant conditioning with rewards for certain behaviors), cognitive components (“…memorization, attitudes, motivation, …reflection, and …internal processes…”), and constructivism, where students construct their own meaning (Alessi, et al., p. 19, 2001). What are the many programming issues to consider? What are advantages of these systems? We will now explore the use of several learning systems that are changing the web-based educational process. Among these methods are: intelligent tutoring systems and virtual reality programs or simulations (LeFrancois, 2006). Both types of systems have developed applications for individualized learning experiences, but work differently. Intelligent tutoring is a process whereby students receive customized instruction or feedback from online “intelligent” computer tutors or agents that are designed to implement teaching tasks and change behaviors depending on cues, in a given area (Piramuthu, 2005) Students are provided o...

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