Implementing the Teaching Architectures

We have built computer programs that implement each of the five teaching architectures, which are inspired by what we know about how people learn. Each architecture is an attempt to isolate a type of knowledge or activity that occurs during some part of the natural learning process and to build a machine that helps learners gain that type of knowledge or engage in that type of activity. In order to build such machines, we have had to study the sorts of knowledge which expert teachers have and impart that knowledge to our machines. These architectures use the ideas and methods of artificial intelligence in order to provide capable components that can be used in the construction of teaching systems.

All five architectures are based on methods that are found, in one form or another, in daily life. It is precisely because these teaching methods are quite natural that they should be exploited in schools. While the teaching architectures themselves are targeted for implementation on a computer, each is based on an underlying teaching method that is not dependent on computers. The teaching methods capture the general point about teaching on which the architecture is based -- they may be furthered through computers, but by no means do they depend on them. Since descriptions of computer programs are not necessary in order to illustrate these underlying principles in action, why frame this discussion in terms of computers at all?

In order for massive educational change to take place in this country, the computer will have to be the medium of change. We cannot make entire states, entire school systems, entire training organizations, or all teachers and textbook publishers change their ways overnight. It is easy to install a computer program -- changing people and entrenched systems is difficult. However, to the extent that entire courses, curricula, libraries, and other learning opportunities can be implemented on software, wholesale change is possible. We may not convince every biology teacher in the country to try our methods, especially when there is a standardized test waiting at the end of the road, but we might convince a school system to implement a computer-based biology course that is radically different than existing courses (assuming that it was endorsed by experts and, more importantly by students).

Next Story Computers Helping Schools Address Natural Learning

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