Tying It All Together: Synthesizing Strategies for Computer-Based Instruction

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Conference Proceeding

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Computer based instruction (CBI) is composed of individual frames viewed one at a time. Compared to a typical textbook, CBI restricts the adult learner's capacity to access information from different parts of the lesson and to view complex presentations. Designers of CBI must compensate for these limitations by making a concerted effort to synthesize or tie together content parts, resulting in a coherent, stable cognitive structure in the learner's mind. Synthesizing strategies include: (1) using hard copy adjunct aids such as diagrams, figures, and content outlines; (2) implementing learner control features such as the menu and HELP options; (3) using graphic synthesizers such as lesson maps, diagrams, and other figures to periodically orient the learner toward the content structure; (4) using animation, graphics, sound, and timing to highlight structurally central content parts; (5) using verbal synthesizers such as analogies, stories, and advance organizers to relate content to familiar experience; and (6) providing integrated practice and other opportunities allowing the application of multiple skills to complex problems. This report concludes by relating research on CBI strategies to a framework for instructional science and discussing potential research questions.