Computer Assisted Learning or Communications:
Which Way for Information Technology in Distance Education?
Two uses of computers for teaching in distance education are compared and contrasted: systems based on structured, pre-programmed learning materials (i.e., computer assisted learning, or CAL), where the learner communicates as if with the computer; and systems based on the communications functions of computers (i.e., computer-mediated communications systems), using electronic mail, conferencing and data-based to facilitate communication between teachers and students.
It is argued that the two systems represent quite different educational philosophies, and for distance teaching at a higher educational level, the communications mode offers a more appropriate, humanistic, and pragmatic route for future development. [Abstract, Creative Commons]