|ACD Home > For Faculty > Instructional Technology Support > Plato: What it is, why use it?|
By Frada Harel, Director of Resource Center and Tutoring Program
Many of our students are overwhelmed with work, family, and other responsibilities. It is often hard for them to find time to get tutoring. To give them extra course review, Touro subscribes to the PLATO online learning system. Since it is web-based, students can access the program wherever they are, whenever they have time. Research strongly supports the use of computer assisted instruction as an ancillary resource.
There are many noted benefits of computer assisted instruction such as PLATO. Since students learn in different ways, Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) provides the opportunity for audio, visual, and kinesthetic interactions so that diverse learning styles are reinforced (Boylan, 2002; Cotton 1991). Modules are based on mastery learning / competency based instruction: limited amounts are presented, reviewed, and then tested (Boylan, 2002; Puckett, 2001). Students are actively involved and remain engaged and on task (Boylan, 2002; Wresch, 1985). They can review the material as many times as needed without the computer losing patience (Cotton, 1991). Because of the extensive library of lessons, students can practice the same skill without repeating exercises (Denenberg, 1978). Students can work from wherever they have an Internet connection and whenever they have time, since CAI is available 24/7. They are guaranteed total privacy because no one else is present to make value judgments or laugh at them for giving a wrong answer, and they receive immediate feedback on their work. Personalized lessons can be assigned, assuring students individualized instruction, and teachers can rely on the computer to keep attendance and completion records.
Since the inception of CAI, many studies have been conducted, including meta-analyses involving thousands of participants (Johnson and Perez, 1996; Kulik, Kulik and Cohen, 1980). All researchers agree that students enjoy working on computers and have improved self-confidence as a result of their experiences. Research also indicates that there are moderate, positive effects on learning outcomes, even greater in developmental education programs (Brothen, 1998; Kulik et al., 1980). CAI also results in quicker learning time and more retention of information (Cotton, 1991; Kulik et al., 1980). I'd like to stress that computer assisted instruction is suggested ONLY as supplemental learning used in conjunction with teacher instruction.
PLATO has been used by the English and Math Departments, with excellent results, for the past few years, but many other modules exist, such as: