chapter  5
13 Pages

Programming teaching

Since the early work of Skinner in the field of programmed instruction and teaching machines we witnessed in Britain an early high rise of interest in the subject, with machines attracting a great deal of attention. In the early days we saw the development of two inchoate, but nevertheless real, schools of thought. One school saw programmed instruction as a panacea for our educational problems, the other saw it as a dehumanizing influence with machines processing children into production line robots. As it turned out, children have not wall,ed off into a shining future hand in hand with their teaching machines, nor have they been hurled into Skinnerian darkness. The early vogue for programs based on the operant conditioning ofverbal behaviour and emphasis on hardware is giving way to an open questioning approach which emphasizes the precise statement of objectives and the analysis of the teaching task from the logical and the psychological point of view. This approach deemphasizes hardware and calls on machines only when essential to a specific teaching task. Most important of all, the rigorous methods used in good program construction - precise specification of objectives, task analysis, test construction and empirical validation - are slowly permeating teaching practices.