The History and Preservation of Computer Based Learning, EB Drake

Tags: MEP, project, development, SMDP, Computer-Aided Learning, computer aided learning, funding body, Scottish schools, Educational Software Database, BECTA, commercial software developers, CAL tools, NCET, CTI, education curriculum development, Learning and Teaching Scotland, National Council for Educational Technology, Learning Technology Programme
Content: The History and Preservation of Computer Based Learning Edmund Brendan Drake-Lee Information Systems with Industrial Placement 2001/2002 "The candidate confirms that the work submitted is their own and the appropriate credit has been given where reference has been made to the work of others. "I understand that failure to attribute material which is obtained from another source may be considered as plagiarism." i
Summary The mid-project report defined the aim of the project as follows: "The aim of the project is to research the history of digital learning tools, so as to understand how much of what has been created over the last twenty years has survived. Following this, will be the objective of examining how and for what reasons any of the digital learning tools came to be lost. Ultimately, the project will address the lessons which can be learnt from the events of the past, so that current learning tools can be preserved for the future." In the final project I am confident that these aims have been achieved. Whilst some concessions have had to be made in undertaking the project due to the limitations of time (identified within the project), all of the minimum objectives have been met: · Research the history of computer-based learning · Investigate the existence and availability of historic digital learning tools · Understand how and why digital learning tools have come to be lost and how this can be prevented in the future · Show how "digital archaeology" can re-find such software In addition to these minimum objectives, it was also possible to investigate further: · Discuss the practicalities of preserving historic digital learning tools · Provide examples of `lost' digital learning tools · Assess the influence of government initiatives such as the Microelectronics in Education Programme (MEP) on both the creation and survival of digital learning tools Since there was a need to limit the scope of the project in order to ensure that it remained manageable within the timescale, there was no opportunity to investigate the subject beyond the United Kingdom; in fact it was necessary to concentrate largely upon the situation at school-level, though some discussion of computer-based learning in higher education was possible. ii
Acknowledgements I would like to thank the following people for their invaluable assistance in producing this project: Sarah Fores for her help as project supervisor; Derek Sergeant and Paul Wheatley for help, guidance and inspiration throughout; Gwyneth Pettit for sharing her experiences of producing software under the MEP and providing the opportunity to see examples in action; Paul Brna for sharing with me his experience in the field of computer-based learning. Finally, special thanks to Wendy Murray. iii
Contents 1 Introduction to the Project i. Background ii. Scope of the Project: Educational Areas iii. Scope of the Project: Timeframe iv. Scope of the Project: Geographical v. Preservation of Digital Learning Tools vi. Managing the Project 2 The Development of Computer-Aided Learning in Schools i. The Introduction of Computer-Aided Learning to British Schools ii. The Microelectronics in Education Programme (MEP) and the Scottish Microelectronics Development Programme iii. After the MEP ­ the National Council for Educational technology (NCET) and the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) 3 The Development of Computer-Aided Learning in Higher Education 4 The Application of Computer-Aided Learning in Schools i. Introduction ii. Early Hardware iii. Early Software iv. Changes in the Nature of Computer-Aided Learning and Computer hardware v. Changes in the Methods of Software Development 5 The Effects of Changes in the Use of Computer Aided Learning i. The Changing Use of Computer-Aided Learning in Schools ii. What Happens When Systems Are Upgraded? iii. An Example of Software Retention 6 Why Should We Wish to Preserve Old Software? iv
i. Introduction ii. Historical Perspective iii. Intellectual Value 7 How Can Old Software Be Located? i. Introduction ii. Digital Archaeology iii. Enthusiasts iv. Software Developers v. Commercial Publishers 8 How Should the Software Be Preserved? i. Introduction ii. Digital Preservation iii. Migration or Emulation? 9 Protecting Intellectual Property Rights 10 Making Preserved Digital Learning Tools Widely Available 11 Conclusions i. Conclusions From the Project ii. Lessons that Can Be Learnt 12 Evaluation Bibliography Appendix A ­ Reflections On the Project Experience Appendix B ­ Examples of Historic Digital Learning Tools Produced Under the MEP v
Appendix C ­ Basis for Assumptions of Replacement of CAL in Schools vi
1 Introduction to the Project 1.i Background The provisional title of the project was to research "the history and preservation of computer-based learning." This title gave the project a wide scope of potential avenues of research, since there are many ways in which this problem could be approached. To consider the component parts of the title, investigating `learning' can lead in many directions. The most likely general areas to be addressed are schools (which can be further divided into primary and secondary), further education and higher education. There is also the possibility that home-based education could be considered. 1.ii Scope of the Project: Educational Areas Initial research at the start of the project highlighted a wealth of information on school use of computer-aided learning (CAL), particularly for the early nineteen-eighties, mostly discussing the application of CAL to the school classroom, but also explaining the developments of government initiatives like the Microelectronics in Education Programme (MEP) and Scottish Microelectronics Development Programme (SMDP). Early research also uncovered a vast array of CAL projects at higher education level. This was given some cohesive identity under projects such as the Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) and Teaching and learning technology Programme (TLTP). Due to the larger scales of funding available in higher education and the extent of research projects undertaken, there is much that could be investigated in CAL at this level. Over time, it was apparent that in order to make the project manageable within the available timescale, it would be necessary to focus the research of the project more directly. The wide amount of projects at higher education level, many very successful, would have provided a great deal of material to work from, but unfortunately this would also have been a problem; managing that much information seemed beyond the reach of the project. The research that was conducted into CAL at higher education level has provided some good examples of successful CAL projects, which have produced some digital learning tools that would be worth preserving for the future and so a section on this is included. The project has therefore concentrated upon the developments in CAL at school level (no distinction is made between primary and secondary). 1
1.iii Scope of the Project: Timeframe Additionally, there has been a need to provide some form of limitation to the overall timeframe which the project addresses. Computers have been in existence for much longer than the effective start-date of this project, the late nineteen-seventies. However, at the end of the seventies developments in the microcomputer began to make it much more attractive for both businesses and educationalists. This saw government-backed impetus to install computers in schools, and from this point, various initiatives (discussed at greater detail later in the project report) greatly increased the use of CAL in schools. From this start-date, the project addresses how the use of computers has changed and the effects of government involvement up to the present day. 1.iv Scope of the Project: Geographical The project objectives in the mid-project report included the possibility that as an enhancement to the minimum objectives, the situation outside of the UK could be investigated. That it was not possible to fully research CAL in the UK sadly meant that it was also not possible to address the situation abroad. 1.v Preservation of Digital Learning Tools Having addressed the history of computer-based learning, the initial project title also demanded some research into the preservation of the digital learning tools that had been produced. It was beyond the scope of this project to address in any great detail the methods of preservation; such work is being performed by the CAMiLEON Project at the University of Leeds [1]. What this project hopes to have addressed instead, are the difficulties involved in obtaining copies of historic digital learning tools in the first place, how they might be overcome and particularly, what can be done to ensure that future digital resources are not simply lost once the hardware they operate on becomes obsolete. In this area, the project met its greatest challenge, since so little research into the preservation of digital learning tools appears to have been undertaken. In some ways, this therefore became frustrating to research; given the time available to conduct the project it was not possible to perform much investigative work which may have yielded more useful information. For example, in-depth consultation with a large number of schools would enable a greater understanding of how changes in computer technology has affected the application of CAL in schools. A much more thorough 2
investigation into the fate of `discarded' digital learning tools would give a more accurate picture of exactly how much is still extant. Managing the Project The project is research-based in nature and so all of the work involved in the project required the collection of resources from which to understand the problem and come to a solution. The following resources had to be obtained in order to meet the project objectives: · Details of the history of computer-aided learning It was necessary to gain details on specifically important projects and initiatives in computeraided learning, both in schools and higher education. Understanding the history of CAL allowed the possibility to address how the use of computers has changed over time, so understanding the development of CAL. It also meant that the ease of obtaining historic digital tools now, given the likelihood of them having been kept, could be assessed. · Examples of the existence of historic digital learning tools (if possible) The project aimed to estimate the current existence and availability of such tools. Therefore, it was necessary to search for examples in the hope that some could be found to illustrate what has been produced and to understand how much may have been lost. · Details of how obsolescence occurs Once the project's scope had been limited to schools, this meant that it was necessary to understand how schools obtain, use and replace their hardware and software, how and why this happens and what the fate of the old equipment is. · Information on how digital resources can be preserved To address the preservation aspect of the project, there was a need to understand how this is possible. This also meant that it was necessary to understand what research, if any, was currently being performed to preserve digital learning tools, to enable the evaluation of how much and what needs to be done for the future. In order that the required information was retrieved in time, the schedule detailed in the mid-project report set out a timetable for research. Whether or not this was achievable is discussed in Appendix A. 3
The information that was used came largely from articles published on the Web, or in journals and from books. Government publications, where available, were also very useful in supplying information about the kind of projects that have been undertaken in CAL and what they have produced. The research was also able to draw upon the experiences of a couple of people who have been involved in the production of digital learning tools. It would have been beneficial to be able to contact more such people for first-hand opinions and possibly examples of historic digital learning tools. Attempts were made, but other people were unable to help in the timeframe of the project. The project would also have benefited from research with schools and perhaps more developers and publishers of CAL software; unfortunately this was not identified early enough in the project, but even had it been, there would have been insufficient time to perform more than a very tentative investigation. 4
2 The Development of Computer-Aided Learning In Schools 2.i The Introduction of Computer-Aided Learning to British Schools The first initiative to attempt to introduce computer-aided learning (CAL) into schools was the national development Programme in Computer Assisted Learning (NDPCAL), which was completed in 1977-78 [2]. At the time that the NDPCAL was undertaken, the costs of computer hardware were still very high, so its impact upon education was fairly limited. Entwistle and Odor [2] mention the importance of the NDPCAL in identifying important factors for the successful integration of computers to the curriculum; in particular, the need to involve teachers effectively in the introduction of CAL to ensure what they call `institutionalisation'. That is, the acceptance of computers as a worthwhile teaching and learning tool, requiring suitable training and time for development of software. Ultimately, the conclusions from the NDPCAL were that "the effective introduction of applications of microelectronics in education will depend only to a small extent on providing the necessary hardware." Successors to the NDPCAL were delayed slightly by the change of Government in 1979, but shortly the Scottish Microelectronics Development Programme (SMDP) began its first phase in 1980, with the Microelectronics in Education Programme (MEP) covering the rest of the UK, effectively between 1981 and 1985. A considerable impetus to these projects was given by the Department of Industry's "Micros in Schools" programme, which enabled secondary schools to obtain computers (BBC B, RML 380Z/480Z, Sinclair Spectrum) at half price, provided that at least two teachers were trained in their use. The BBC was understandably popular given its technical specification, the support of accompanying television programmes and because training was supplied as a condition of sale [2, 3]. The motives behind the DoI's initiative may appear questionable, simply as a way of boosting Britain's fledgling microcomputer industry, but it was certainly beneficial in expanding the presence of computers in schools, thus allowing MEP and SMDP to concentrate on promoting the use, rather than simply the availability of computers in schools. 2.ii The MEP and SMDP In operation, the MEP and SMDP had slightly different approaches to assisting the development of CAL. The MEP established fourteen regional information centres in association with LEAs, since the MEP was essentially a funding body intended to have a limited duration, so these centres were 5
expected to continue the initiatives begun by the MEP once it ended. There were two primary aims of the MEP: to find appropriate ways of using computers as an aid to education and creating suitable software and secondly to introduce new topics to the curriculum which would involve the use of computers [3]. This focus on the development of educational technology and the curriculum was not reflected in the SMDP, which had as its primary aim the introduction of hardware to schools (as phase I), followed by a role in assisting the development in selected schools [2]. The SMDP ultimately benefited significantly from having established aims of central co-ordination of software projects to avoid unnecessary duplication, and the partnership of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology (SCET) to disseminate information to schools about available tools; not simply tools created under the auspices of the SMDP either, but any titles relevant to the curriculum. Another important benefit of the management of the SMDP came from the initial incorporation of a review system, something which was never planned as part of the MEP. It could be suggested that since the MEP was only ever intended as a short-term funding body to promote the development of computers as learning tools, review was not necessary. However, the continual (and rapid) development of computers meant that a continual approach to the development of educational software might have been more appropriate. Opinions of people spoken to in the undertaking of this project indicate that the MEP is often regarded as something of a failure, "leaving no enduring positive mark on our educational system." [4] In contrast, the system of continual review in the SMDP allowed short-term phases of development under the control of a central body to maintain a continual supply of up-to-date and relevant software to schools. This success is illustrated by the survival of the roles of the SCET and SMDP in the computer-based learning of the Scottish curriculum, subsequently combined and re-named Learning and Teaching Scotland in July 2000. Although software for schools is now largely produced commercially, LT Scotland continues to provide guidance on the use of computers in the curriculum, training for educational staff and catalogues of suitable software. [5] 2.iii After the MEP ­ NCET and BECTA Whilst the development of digital learning tools in Scotland benefited from the continued involvement of the SMDP and SCET, there was no obvious successor to the MEP. Ultimately, the MEP's role was largely that of a funding body and so promotion of the software produced or overall co-ordination of projects on a nationwide basis was largely unexplored. By 1984, three years into the MEP, the Further Education Unit (FEU) had identified a need to "look at the materials already emerging from 6
the MEP project, not only to prevent unnecessary duplication... but also to inform the FE system of the work being done elsewhere." [6] The document produced lists some fifty software titles, a small proportion of the final outcome of the MEP. That the MEP was largely a funding body also meant that once the funds had been allocated, its role was largely complete. The SMDP evaluated the state of CAL in Scottish schools at the end of its second phase, took stock of what had been produced and developments since the programme had started and was able to determine what further investment and development of computer-based learning would be beneficial to Scottish education. Without this evaluation, no immediate successor to continue investment into CAL for the rest of Britain was in place. In 1988, the British Government established the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET), with the role of providing "information on IT&T in education curriculum development, training and organisational change." [7] As such, the NCET was not directly involved in projects creating software or other CAL tools, instead holding an advisory role. Sponsorship of projects like "Teaching and Learning with IT" illustrate the NCET's intended function to promote the benefits of the use of IT, though not actually attempting to form the tools themselves. "Following a re-focusing of [NCET's] activities in 1998," [8] the organisation was renamed the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA). BECTA, like NCET, is involved in promoting the use of IT within education. This involves work similar to that undertaken by Learning and Teaching Scotland, evaluating software and other tools for their usefulness in teaching, and providing guidance to schools on suitability of CAL tools. This has been supplemented by the establishment of the British Educational Software Database (BESD) [9], collating a searchable list of software which is relevant to the curriculum. BECTA collaborates with other research teams, to investigate the potential of alternative ways of using computers within the educational environment. Much like Learning and Teaching Scotland, the role as a developer of CAL tools is less significant, since commercial software developers have entered the educational market in more sizeable numbers. 7
3. The Development of Computer-Aided Learning in Higher Education The involvement of universities with the use of computers naturally begins much earlier than for schools, with the research-based nature of such institutions and access to greater funding. For the purposes of this project, the timescale covered is limited to the same as that investigated for schools. Whilst the MEP was underway, developing the use of CAL in schools, "the inadequate provision of student workstations in UK universities" [4] identified by the Nelson report of 1983 resulted in the establishment of the Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI). Funded initially by the Computer Board for Universities and Research Councils (CBURC) and other sources, the CTI's primary aims were: "to encourage the development of computer-mediated training and learning in UK universities" and "to evaluate the educational potential of information technology within the context of university teaching in the UK." Secondary aims assessed hardware and software requirements to successfully achieve these aims [4]. Although the development of software was not one of the foremost aims of the CTI, "a lot of effort [was] directed towards software production." [4] Since the establishments receiving funding via the CTI were largely aiming to develop the use of CAL within their courses, much of the software was primarily created to serve the educational needs of just that institution. This resulted in cases of duplication of projects and was also affected by ignorance "of software tools already available" [4]. Problems like these were the result of insufficient central organisation and guidance in the funded projects early on in the CTI. Although "the misdirection of enthusiasm and the institutionalization of mediocrity" highlighted by Self [4, 10] caused problems in some of the early CTI projects [4], its evaluatory nature, shown to be a factor influencing success by the SMDP, meant that ultimately the CTI had many successes. Subjects gained centralised bases at a particular institution (for example, chemistry at Liverpool University, Maths at Birmingham University and Computing at Ulster University [11, 12, 13]), which certainly helped to reduce unnecessary duplication and fostered better co-operation between CTI projects. The continual evaluation of the CTI centres is well illustrated at the CTI Mathematics web site [12], where there are a series of annual reports available from 1992 until 1998, which assess the efforts of the centre for that year. In order to support CTI projects, the centres provided many other services, such as workshops, newsletters, guides to software and perhaps most importantly, reviews and assessment of software available for the subject. The success of the CTI in promoting CAL is well illustrated by the CTI Chemistry centre in Liverpool [11], from which the Chemistry Courseware Consortium has been 8
established, now a self-sufficient body that evaluates computer aided learning tools and sells its own software, which has uses at further education and school level as well. As the CTI continued to promote the use of CAL throughout the nineteen-nineties, an additional body was established under the auspices of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to provide funding over a number of phases to projects integrating information technology (IT) into higher education. Known as the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP), this project helped to continue the work of existing CTI projects as well as funding new projects. The TLTP included an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the funded projects [14, 15]. Although the CTI and TLTP have now concluded their work, a National Co-ordination Team [16] has been established to ensure that CAL continues to be developed in higher education. 9
4 The Application of Computer-Aided Learning in Schools 4.i Introduction The use of CAL in schools has been affected by a number of influences. From the time of the NDPCAL and the MEP/SMDP up to the present day, one of the most immediately obvious of these is the rapid development of the hardware available. It is clear that this affects the use and availability of software, from the technical capabilities of the hardware, to the simple question of compatibility. The nature of the hardware in question has also changed the ways in which computers can be used by their physical location in the school building. Use of CAL is undoubtedly also influenced by the approach of the curriculum towards the use of computers. The changing nature of the role of computers in the classroom will be investigated, along with the methods by which software is obtained and how it is developed. 4.ii Early Hardware The impetus behind the DoI's "Micros in Schools" programme, aside from the obvious economic benefits, was to promote the ideal of a computer in every classroom [3]. Although in reality very few schools were able to afford that level of spending, this is a good indication of the way the use of computers was perceived at the time. The computer was very much a tool to aid traditional subjects, hence computer aided learning, rather than learning about computers. It therefore made sense that the computer be based in the classroom, where the teaching took place, so that it could be integrated as seamlessly as possible. In practice, this often meant that only a few subjects integrated CAL, or machines would be on movable trolleys so that the computer could be shared between classes. The limited resources available to teachers at this time, combined with the unreliability and slow-loading nature of tape-drive media was certainly an early barrier to use of CAL. 4.iii Early Software As mentioned, early software was developed as a way of finding new (and hopefully more successful) ways of teaching traditional subjects, with the computer also perceived as having particular benefits for teaching those with special needs. English, Mathematics and Special Needs teaching were subjects 10
for which CAL gained early popularity as being "very useful", whilst it also found popular applications in Science, Design and Technology, Geography and History [17]. One of the initial advantages of CAL was the enthusiasm it generated amongst pupils and the level of involvement that they could have in the learning process. Because of this, project-based software was very popular. The computer could be used to test and develop ideas before any practical work was performed, which meant that pupils could make errors, try again, and improve their work as the project progressed. An example of such a package can be seen in Academic Software's "Boat Hull Design" [Appendix B (I)]. Programs like these were able to make the most of features offered by computers such as the BBC B, able to be connected to external devices, which could use the computer in association with practical experiments. The LOGO drawing turtle is another example, which could help pupils learn about the geometry of shapes through practical experimentation: entering commands into the computer which were then interpreted by the turtle, which moved around and drew the shape that had been described. In addition to the project-based programs that were developed, other programs suitable for shorter use were of course produced. Appendix B contains some more examples from Academic Software's MEP-funded productions, which were of this style. These programs are of particular interest because of the manner in which they were produced. The nature of the MEP and SMDP's aims meant that funding was available for anyone wishing to develop educational software, which invariably meant the staff of schools. Whilst the MEP and SMDP provided support to those developing programs, academic staff often did not have the available time to develop skills to produce sufficiently advanced applications. Support was sometimes perceived to be more "in the sense of encouragement" [2] than in programming itself. The examples in Appendix B were all projects funded by the MEP, which took advantage of the skills of professional programmers to develop the ideas of school teachers. Developing software in this manner had the advantage of ensuring that the programs would be useful and relevant to the curriculum and in their production, children would be able to assist in the testing of the software to ensure its educational worth. From discussions with Gwyneth Pettit of Academic Software, her perception is that this method of producing software was highly beneficial to the quality of the final software and resulted in the production of very involving programs, covering a wide range of subjects wherever teachers were enthusiastic about using CAL. 11
4.iv Changes in the Nature of CAL and Hardware That one of the primary aims of the MEP was to expand the curriculum to introduce new topics specifically involved with the use of computers, may be one of the reasons for a change to the nature of computer usage in schools. Certainly, there were those who felt that it would be beneficial to teach children how to use computers, simply for their own sake, since the relevance of computer-skills to every day life were beginning to become apparent [2]. Therefore, teaching skills such as wordprocessing began to become as much a part of computer-based education as using the computer as a tool for traditional subjects. There is no doubt that this change was greatly assisted by developments in hardware. Whilst early microcomputers such as the BBC B and RML 380Z were designed with the educational market in mind, much more powerful office machines from the likes of IBM and Apple eventually showed the increased capabilities of faster processors and more memory. Having been designed for the office, these computers did not have some of the capabilities which made the BBC and its competitors so successful in the classroom. In particular, it was not as easy to use IBM PCs for the kind of involving project work seen in "Boat Hull Design" [Appendix B (I)], since the technology for connecting testing apparatus was not readily available. Even with this advantage, the BBC (and later Acorn), although popular into the nineteen-nineties, were ultimately destined to struggle against the rise of the PC. It is not simply the increased power of the PC which enhanced its capabilities as a computer. Even in 1987, the "[notable developments] in microcomputers and local area networking" [3] were changing the way that people were considering the use of computers. During discussions with Gwyneth Pettit, it was suggested that the use of networks in schools did much to change the way that CAL was used. Although networks were meant to enhance the usability and efficiency of computer resources, the expense of installing a local area network (LAN) meant that computers began to be removed from classrooms and placed in dedicated computer rooms. Obviously, this made it less convenient for teachers to incorporate computers into their everyday teaching, thus reducing the frequency with which computers would be used simply to convey an idea to children which would be equally possible (though not necessarily as effective) through other teaching methods. Separating computers to their own, dedicated classroom is possibly one of the influences for teaching IT, thus using computers to learn computer skills. 12
4.v Changes in the Methods of Software Development The gradual progression towards a standard platform (the Acorn Archimedes and subsequently the IBM-compatible PC) could be considered both beneficial and damaging to the development of educational software. "Software portability... emerged as a major issue within the [CTI]" [4] and undoubtedly the variety of platforms initially used in schools (the SMDP trialled eighteen different makes of computer in Phase I [2]) meant that either the complicated problems of portability had to be tackled, or duplication of programs was necessary; certainly the smaller markets for individual makes of computer meant that the educational market was less attractive to commercial software companies. Harris and Preston [17] highlight "regret that a common user interface had not yet been developed" as a major complaint of developers. Therefore increasing standardisation upon IBM-compatible PCs running Microsoft operating systems in the nineteen-nineties generated increased interest amongst commercial developers in producing educational software (in 1992-93, fifty per cent of total sales for software developers was for IBM PC compatibles [17]); it is possible that this could also be linked to increasing home ownership of computers. However, a complaint about commercially developed CAL software is that it often fails to involve teachers and perhaps more importantly the students themselves in the development process. So whilst the MEP and SMDP helped to generate programs which genuinely reflected the CAL needs and wishes of schools, commercial software ultimately has the generation of profit as motive. "The most important considerations from the developer's point of view were the interface, hardware capabilities and projected cost... many teachers indicated that one of their main criteria in selecting software was whether or not it was relevant to or fulfilled National Curriculum requirements." [17] One of the major roles of BECTA and Learning and Teaching Scotland is now the evaluation and selection of software suitable for the curriculum, compiling resources such as the British Educational Software Database [9]. In addition to software developed by schools or commercial developers, LEAs have been responsible for developing their own software for their schools to use. Many schools have traditionally purchased software via their LEA [17], who supply catalogues of recommended software. Much of the LEA `inhouse' software was developed "in response to specific demands from teachers" [17], and "One LEA... reported that... about a third of their software sales were to schools outside the authority... partly attributed to [a] reputation for producing good quality software by teachers for teachers." [17] 13
5 The Effects of Changes in the Use of Computer Aided Learning 5.i Changing use of CAL in Schools This project has illustrated that computer-based learning has undergone many changes since the microcomputer began to be introduced to schools in the nineteen-seventies. Rapid developments in microelectronics have brought about massive increases in the capabilities of computers, which have certainly affected the manner in which they are used in schools. The changes in hardware, the way in which computers are perceived, their functionality and the skills which people deem necessary for children to leave school with have resulted in multifarious changes in the school computer-room. When considering the preservation of digital resources, particularly those involved in education, it is worth taking the time to comprehend the effect that the rapid development of computing has had, and comparing this to traditional teaching resources. Based upon the authors personal experience, it is often the case that other kinds of learning materials, like textbooks or videos, could be expected to have a life-expectancy of up to twenty years or more, often being replaced only through wear and tear of the media rather than changes in the core curriculum. Although old-fashioned and sometimes dated by fashion, the educational worth of these resources means that they are retained and continue to be used to impart knowledge to children. This is certainly the case with traditional, `core' subjects such as history, Foreign Languages and the sciences, where much of the central learning is unlikely to undergo any radical change. In the light of schools' willingness to continue to make use of videos filmed in the nineteen-eighties, when replacements are available, it would not be unfair to exhibit some surprise that computer programs whose educational content is still applicable to the curriculum, fall out of use after a much shorter time; perhaps as few as five years. Indeed, when the comparative cost of purchasing a video to licensing software for use by a class of thirty or more children is taken into account, the comparative use of resources is surprising. 5.ii What Happens When Systems Are Upgraded? Without the benefit of conducting a nationwide survey of schools to assess the current technology which is used, it is impossible to be sure exactly what software and hardware is currently incorporated into school teaching in Great Britain. Since this is beyond the scope of this project, generalisations 14
and assumptions based upon the author's experiences have had to be made in addressing the way in which schools update their CAL systems [Appendix C]. At the time of Harris and Preston's survey of computer use in schools [17], over ninety per cent of schools (primary and secondary) were using BBC B or Master computers, with nearly sixty per cent having Acorns. Given that the survey was published in 1993, this is about the time that the IBM PC was just beginning to infiltrate the educational market; although fewer than ten per cent of primary schools had IBM PC compatibles, the change at secondary level was beginning to become apparent, with over sixty per cent having them, only slightly fewer than were using Acorn variants. The Acorn Archimedes computers, with various versions of RISC OS, were capable of running many of the older programs designed for BBC machines and later models also emulated the PC. From these statistics, it is possible to make a guess that at many schools, software written under the MEP could still have been in use ten or more years after it was written. However, given the advances in graphics technology and the processing power of computer chips from the BBC B to the last of the Acorn Archimedes, many of the older programs may have been replaced much earlier for reasons of better functionality or improved user interface. One of the findings of Harris and Preston's report was that "many [schools] prefer to spend funding available for software purchases on programs for more powerful machines." [17] Taking the Learning and Teaching Scotland Resource Catalogue 2001/2002 [5] as an example, it can be said that a reasonable number of schools (in Scotland at least) must still be using Acorn machines, since that is one of the three platforms for which software is available (the other two are Windows and Apple Macintosh). Although this may be the case in the rest of the UK, since the mid nineteennineties there has been a significant rise in the number of schools using IBM PC-compatible machines and this has no doubt been greatly assisted since the introduction of the national grid for Learning. This massive nationwide operation to get all schools connected to the Internet has meant that all schools should now be running some form of Internet-capable machine, which is most likely to be a Windows PC. When hardware is replaced and essentially becomes obsolete, it is not surprising that on the whole this simply means that all of the old equipment is thrown away. The constrictions of the limited space in which computers can be kept results in the old having to make way for the new. It is unfortunate to think that in these instances much useful and usable software is simply discarded. 15
5.iii An Example of Software Retention To take the author's secondary school as an example, it is true that in some cases changes in hardware and operating systems have not necessarily meant the end of useful software. On beginning at the school, it operated a laboratory of BBC B/Master computers. Programs were used to support a variety of subjects: science experiments which could be replicated by a computer program so that the expected results could be compared to actual results achieved in practical sessions were numerous, and the author has fond memories of a program in which the user had to attempt to do better than Haig in the Battle of the Somme. Not long after joining, the school began to upgrade its computing facilities to PCs running Windows. Since the programs that had been available on the BBCs were widely used and incredibly usable, if not the height of modernity, they were retained and operated on the new machines due to the enthusiasm of the staff to keep using them. On leaving the school, at least some of these programs were still in use, at a time when the school was running large networks of multimedia PCs, connected to the Internet. 16
6 Why Should We Wish to Preserve Old Software? 6.i Introduction In sections 4.iii and 5.iii and Appendix B examples of programs, which were created for now-obsolete computer platforms, are given. These are an extremely small sample of the total amount of software that must have been created for use on microcomputers, much of which may now have been lost forever. This means that a considerable proportion of intellectually valuable works will not be able to be accessed again, simply through the replacement of computer systems with others that are incompatible. 6.ii Historical Perspective If one considers the preservation of other media, such as books, papers, photographs and works of art, much of this is retained not because it has an application to modern life, but because of the historical perspective it can provide to people with an interest in the same or similar subject matter today. Today's educational software developers and educationalists might be able to learn much from historic learning tools; by understanding what has been created before it may be possible to update successful ideas for present day requirements, or improve on the failings of previous software. Without the ability to access this information there is little frame of reference for current undertaking and avoidable replication of mistakes could occur. 6.iii Intellectual Value Simply because digital learning tools have been replaced because of hardware obsolescence, this does not mean that all of their intellectual value is lost. Indeed, the examples in section 5.iii illustrate that despite the replacement of hardware, some of the software from the old machines was deemed to have sufficient value that an effort was made to ensure that the software was transferred to the new platform. Another very good example of a need to preserve intellectual value is the BBC's Domesday Project [18]. This was "a pair of interactive videodiscs made by the BBC... to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book" [18]. As a highly advanced interactive project at the time, it 17
involved the manufacture of specific hardware to allow the media to be used with the BBC Master computer (and later, RML machines) and contained text, photographs, maps, sound and video from a huge number of sources, to illustrate life in Britain in 1986. Being expensive (around Ј2,500), the Domesday project did not sell in high numbers and as few as two working examples could be left [18]. Given that one of the aims of the Domesday project was to produce a body of information and resources that would provide people in the future a chance to find out about life in Britain in the 1980s, it is a great shame that this is almost completely lost just sixteen years on. The interest that the Domesday software holds for future generations makes it worth preserving. As a result, it is a focal work of the CAMiLEON project [1], which is investigating the use of emulation as a digital preservation strategy. 18
7. How Can Software Be Located? 7.i Introduction It is clear that there is much software of which it would be beneficial to preserve copies and unfortunately likely that a good amount may have already been lost forever. Given the length of time since such software was last available to purchase and the lack of formal processes for preservation, there are considerable difficulties in obtaining copies of the original code for preservation. To take software produced under the MEP as an example, a large proportion of this (such as the examples in Appendix B) were promoted and published by the developers themselves, so no central body maintained a catalogue of titles and there is no guarantee that anybody (such as a publisher) would have retained an original copy. Even if software can be located, there remains the problem of degradation of the storage medium, which over twenty years could well have become corrupt. 7.ii Digital Archaeology In order to preserve our digital history, it is likely that "digital archaeologists" [19] will need to spend a good deal of time investigating the titles produced with the assistance of Government-funded initiatives such as the MEP and SMDP. There is hope that a reasonable proportion of software from such origins could be identified: as mentioned in section 2.ii the SMDP has maintained a significant involvement in the distribution of its software throughout its existence and publications such as the FEU's "Microcomputer Materials from MEP" [6] go some way to catalogue the projects' output and give some leads to the creators. 7.iii Enthusiasts Although the scope of this project did not cover any extensive investigation into the whereabouts of historic digital learning tools, searches of the Web have yielded some promising examples of enthusiasts having already made some effort to preserve software. Perhaps unsurprisingly a great deal of the software for obsolete platforms such as the BBC, Acorn and Spectrum Sinclair which has been preserved is games software; "retro-gaming" has a popular cult following. Whilst it may be equally possible to make a strong case for the preservation of such software, it was pleasing to discover that some serious attempts have been made to preserve educational software as well. In the UK, a project 19
at Sunderland University produced an archive of Spectrum software, with a large number of educational titles preserved [20]. Unfortunately this seems to have been removed during the course of this project. Another project at Stanford in the US was also researching the preservation of educational software, [21] though none was available to access online at the time of visiting. 7.iv Software Developers The difficulties in discovering the exact catalogue of titles which resulted from the MEP are compounded by changes in government departments over the past twenty years, which makes it very difficult to contact those who may hold records of project funding and so forth. The UK Official Publications web site has been of some use in compiling this project, but unfortunately even when publications are listed the information can still be misleading or incorrect. The assistance of Gwyneth Pettit with this project gives hope that other similar developers who have produced software have also retained copies of their work. As long as it is possible to identify whom these people were, this would be an avenue worth pursuing. 7.v Commercial Publishers One would hope that software produced commercially would be easier to locate than private projects, since hopefully the publishers retain some record of their publications, if only in the interests of preserving their intellectual property rights (IPR). This is certainly the case with games software, where many publishers (such as Superior Software) who produced games for obsolete platforms still prevent distribution of the code on the Web, even though they no longer intend to make any money from the software. Interestingly, the software listed the FEU's 1984 catalogue of MEP projects [6] was all published by commercial publishers (Cambridge University Press, Heinemann Computers in Education and Longman Micro Software) so there is a possibility that at the very least they could provide leads to obtaining the software. 20
8. How Should the Software Be Preserved? 8.i Introduction Obtaining the software is merely the first step in preserving historic digital learning tools. The nature of computers and the obsolescence of hardware, operating systems and programming languages cause a number of problems for preservation. The first way that one might consider preserving these CAL tools would be in the original format, to be run on the original hardware. There are a number of fairly obvious problems with this method of preservation: · hardware can easily break and is difficult or impossible to repair · limited resources of the hardware are available · the hardware limits the software to one location, so causes problems for access · maintaining and storing every necessary hardware platform would require considerable space and funds · the media on which the software is held is liable to corrupt Given these problems, other avenues of preservation need to be pursued in order to make the effort of preserving the software worthwhile. Stewart Granger's "Emulation As a Digital Preservation Strategy" investigates this more thoroughly [22]. 8.ii Digital Preservation There has been (and continues to be) considerable research into the preservation of digital resources. Bodies like the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) [23] are funding many projects addressing the issues involved. The majority of this work is directed towards preserving digital resources such as formatted text and pictures, the complexities of which are relatively simple compared to the preservation of software [19]. However, software preservation is being investigated by the CAMiLEON Project [1], considering the viability of emulation as a preservation method. The details of different methods of preservation will be covered only briefly here; various CAMiLEON papers discuss the issues more fully [1, 19, 22, 24, 25]. 21
8.iii Migration Or Emulation? In his paper on Migration [19], Paul Wheatley provides a definition of migration from a CPA/RLG report [26]: "...a set of organised tasks designed to achieve the periodic transfer of digital materials from one hardware/software configuration to another, or from one generation of computer technology to a subsequent generation." Essentially the process of migration involves modifying the original source code so that it can be interpreted successfully by a different hardware configuration. This can be done to varying extremes, from something that allows the basic content or purpose of the original to be understood, to producing a near-exact replica. Obviously the latter is more costly and therefore not always practicable and since migration always requires some form of modification to the original byte-stream some noticeable differences to the original are still likely. An important consideration with migration is ensuring that the original byte-stream is preserved; otherwise subsequent migrations are likely to further remove the likeness of the working copy from the original version. A viable alternative to migration is emulation. Emulation involves the replication of the original hardware environment on a different system, such that the software can be run in its original form. With emulation, the original byte-stream is not altered, but the problem of ensuring the migration of the emulator now becomes an issue. Whether this is practicable is an issue being addressed by CAMiLEON. The most apparent benefit of emulation is that only the initial migration of the emulator is ever necessary, therefore the cost of preserving large amounts of software for one original hardware configuration is much less than migrating each software byte-stream. 22
9 Protecting Intellectual Property Rights The methods of preserving software, by migration or emulation, entail a resource cost of time and money, which someone has to be willing to spend. Therefore, as illustrated in section 6, there needs to be a sense of worth in preservation. Acceptance that this value exists does not then leave "digital archaeologists" free to begin preserving software. The CAMiLEON Project's attempts to preserve the BBC Domesday project has raised a number of important considerations about the intellectual property rights held over the work. Domesday is perhaps more complicated than the average piece of software due to the nature of its content: "over a million" people are said to have contributed in some way [18] and possibly all of these could claim some rights over the content. CAMiLEON has therefore produced a report detailing the potential property rights issues with producing an emulated version of Domesday [27]. Copyright issues are the major concern with Domesday and under current legislation much of this remains protected until at least 2090. Fortunately, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 s.42 allows libraries and archives to "make a copy from any item in the permanent collection... in order to preserve or replace that item... where it is not reasonably practicable to purchase a copy of the item in question." Therefore preserving an exact replica of the original software code of a program would be acceptable for public access from a library or archive. Migration in particular and to some extent emulation, do not, however produce entirely faithful copies of the original work. With the Domesday example, an emulated copy "may in terms of software language, design and structure bear little resemblance to the original, and contain copies of works stored in substantially different file formats from those originally used [27]." Provided that no modification to the software is necessary, as in emulation of a simple piece of software, for example those listed in Appendix B, there should be no copyright issues in library preservation, since "the obsolete hardware base would not be protected by copyright, and thus any new works, in the form of computer programs to emulate that hardware... would form new works in their own right." In the case of more complicated digital objects such as Domesday, where the hardware/software components require more complex alterations for successful emulation and in these instances the rights holders may still wish to assert their IPRs. If this were the case, then it could be too costly to invest into preserving a resource which people may be unable to access for up to one hundred years. It would be hoped that the IPR holders in the case of such resources as Domesday would understand the value of emulation in preserving the work and therefore allow the preserved works "to be made 23
available for limited public access via suitable archives, with the proviso that the commercial interests of the rightsholders must still be protected [27]." It is understandable that companies such as Superior Software still defend their rights over the computer games software that they produced even though they currently have no commercial interest in it to prevent free distribution over the Web; it is clearly important to make the distinction between preservation for archiving and preservation for distribution. 24
10. Making Preserved Digital Learning Tools Widely Available Clearly the main impetus to preserve digital learning tools is to ensure that it remains available for the public to use. Ideally, this would allow everyone to access the software as conveniently as possible. Since the items are preserved electronically, it seems a little nonsensical to archive them only in traditional libraries where one's physical presence is necessary to access the tools, when a far wider audience could be reached with some form of digital library. The main objection to digital libraries would arise from the potential for infringement of IPRs as discussed in section 9. Projects such as the Electronic Libraries Programme [28] and the Educational Object Economy [29] are researching the use of digital libraries. The Electronic Libraries Programme supports a number of projects, aiming to increase the availability and usability of digital resources. Unfortunately none of these projects appears to be addressing the potential for making software available, instead addressing multimedia resources like video, images and text. The Educational Object Economy, on the other hand, is providing "interactive simulations, illustrations and exercises" [29] on-line; its main interest is in providing on-line Java resources though, rather than providing an archive of software. There appear to be no large scale attempts to archive software at present and none of those that do are not directed towards historic software. Some current resources, which could provide a usable starting point for creating archives of digital learning tools, are the software databases held by various organisations. The Open University maintains a database of the software used to support its programmes [30]. There is also the British Educational Software Database [9], which is BECTA's resource for educational software. Such information would be valuable in attempting to compile a software archive. 25
11. Conclusions 11.i Conclusions from the Project Having researched the history of digital learning tools and attempted to gain an understanding of what changes in the use of computer-aided learning in schools may have occured, it has been possible to draw some conclusions about how and why these tools may have been lost. Perhaps the first and most obvious reason lies in the way that computers have been developed. As in any new industry, at the beginning there were many manufacturers vying for market dominance, so little standardisation of the hardware technology used. This made it less attractive for commercial developers to produce software, since potential markets would be quite small. So private developers, in association with schools and Government funding developed their own software, which they could then attempt to sell to other schools; the motivator was to create the software rather than to make money. Once a few brands began to establish some market dominance (BBC/Acorn, Sinclair, RML) it became more attractive for commercial developers to enter the educational market, since larger-volume sales were possible. Commercial software did not necessarily mean better software, however, as we have seen that the aims of the developers are not necessarily the same as those of the teachers [17]. This helps to lend strength to the argument that early educational software is important to preserve because it was often developed in conjunction with teachers and schoolchildren. This is something that is often missed out by commercial developers and could illustrate why some of these early programs generated quite so much enthusiasm amongst pupils and teachers alike. Even once some platforms had established a certain level of dominance, this did not prevent the marketplace from undergoing some fairly significant change. Two of the more influential factors in this area are the growth in the use of networks and the change to the `office PC'. The former changed the way in which computers were distributed around the school, tending to move them all together into one place rather than spread across a number of classrooms; the latter was a significant change in the hardware and caused problems of obsolescence of the old software and also helped to increase the desire to spend more computing-time teaching computer-skills (Word processing, spreadsheets) for which these kind of machines were initially designed. Both of these changed the approach towards computers to some extent, so different types of software were produced, thus showing how the older software could hold valuable methods of using computers that have lost favour, but could be useful to maintain a record of for the future. 26
Although some software from obsolete machines is occasionally retained and supported on the new hardware, this is not generally the case. Replacement of hardware tends to mean that the new hardware supports a more attractive user interface, with greater power to run more powerful programs with multimedia content. The improvements mean that people do not wish to retain the old software maybe only because it seems dated; a replacement that does similar, if not the same job is likely to be available for the new hardware. This means that software with much (possibly superior) educational merit is discarded. In addition to the changes in hardware, we have seen how the changes in the curriculum have affected the use of computers. At the time of the MEP, its aim of changing the curriculum to incorporate new subjects aimed specifically at computers was intended to run alongside the use of computers to support traditional teaching. With the changes in hardware that have taken place and the changing role of computers in society, this kind of curriculum development has to some extent distracted from the use of computers simply to support teaching, causing educational software to fall out of use in some instances. The fall from use of obsolete software cannot be held as the only cause for its demise. If there had been greater attempts to preserve copies of the software by its creators, for posterity, then we would not have lost so much. With hindsight it is easy to say that projects like the MEP and the SMDP could have made greater attempts to centralise the resources created with their funding and set up archives. At the time, the software being produced was very much `of the now' and perhaps being so new did not seem to have the educational credentials of literature or illustrations, into which much effort of preservation is invested. Hopefully, the lessons that can be learnt from the past will ensure that present and future learning tools are not wantonly lost. 11.ii Lessons that Can Be Learnt Above all, this project has highlighted that there is a definite danger of losing a great many useful and interesting resources. Indeed, it is possible that much of our digital history has already passed away without any record. What is necessary, it appears, is some kind of formal system which ensures that copies of digital tools are at the very least preserved and preferably maintained in a usable format, through some kind of migration or emulation. Ideally this work would be performed by a digital library of some description. In the same way that traditional libraries obtain copies of books and other paper media for collation, preservation and archiving for public use, it would be good to see the Government recognising the similar value in maintaining digital resources. 27
Without a formal system which has sufficient resources, necessary to collect and maintain vast amounts of digital tools, it will continue to fall to small-scale projects conducted by interested parties to maintain some form of archive. This could result in much unnecessary duplication of preservation work and would mean that only those items in which the preservationist had an interest would likely be maintained. Looking back at projects like the MEP and SMDP, it would be interesting to see if the differences in their respective longevities have made any difference to the scale of efforts that have been made to preserve the output of their projects. Unfortunately due to the timescale of this project, no detailed research into this has been possible; given that the SMDP has effectively been operating continuously from its beginning in 1980 up to the present day, one might hope that there is a greater chance that at the very least some records of the entire back-catalogue are held, if not examples as well. It would be pleasing if future Government initiatives to create computer-based learning materials incorporated not only evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of the output, but preservation to ensure that the benefits of the investments endured. Ultimately, it is clear that a change in practice and attitude towards digital learning tools (and digital tools in general) is necessary. An extensive project of "digital archaeology" is necessary to maintain hope of preserving the digital history up to the present day; establishment of formal preservation procedures for current and future digital tools will ensure that no more is lost. 28
12 Evaluation 12.i Evaluation Criteria The following criteria are used to evaluate the project: · Did the project fully investigate the history of computer-aided learning? · Is there evidence of research into the availability of historic digital learning tools? · Are there any examples of such tools? · Does the project assess the factors that have caused digital learning tools to be lost? · Does the project understand why digital tools should be preserved? · Does the project understand how digital tools can be preserved? · Does the project reach an appropriate conclusion, given the evidence? These criteria ensure that each aspect of the project's objectives has been researched and understood sufficiently well and also offer the opportunity to identify areas in which the work of the project has improved upon the basic objectives, or ways in which the project could have been improved to better fulfil the objectives. 12.ii Evaluation of the Project Under the Criteria Did the project fully investigate the history of computer-aided learning? An initial project objective was simply to investigate the history of computer-aided learning. This is a very broad topic and to attempt to provide a complete investigation of the history of CAL within the timescale of this project would almost certainly be unachievable. However, a good understanding of the major initiatives and developments in computing that have shaped the way that CAL has been developed in the UK has been achieved. The project never intended to detail every event in the history of CAL; the aim of this section was to provide an insight into the amount of digital learning tools that have been developed, how this was organised and by whom, so that it might be easier to know how such tools might be obtained today and the likelihood that any attempt at preservation may already have been made. 29
Having researched the major Government projects that have created digital learning tools has provided sufficient evidence of the history for the purposes of the project. The only notable weakness is that the history at higher education level, due to the extent of its content, was not fully researched; higher education, however, was not the main focus of the final project. Is there evidence of research into the availability of historic digital learning tools? One of the project's failings is that there was not sufficient time to perform detailed investigation into what has happened to all of the tools that have been created by projects such as the MEP and SMDP. Perhaps because the software was produced a considerable time ago and because of the rapid developments in computer hardware, it would be unreasonable to expect a project of this kind to have sufficient resources to delve into the complicated research that appears to be necessary. Despite this, the project has been able to show that there is hope that some of this software still exists, by providing examples of MEP software and identifying potential sources that may yield more clues to its whereabouts. Are there any examples of such tools? With the help of the CAMiLEON Project [1] and Gwyneth Pettit of Academic Software, the project has examples of five different MEP software titles. Does the project assess the factors that have caused digital learning tools to be lost? The project used a number of sources to identify reasons why digital learning tools have come to be lost. Clearly, the lack of any significant efforts to preserve or archive these tools is the major factor, but the project identifies changes in the hardware, the methods of software production and the use of CAL as other factors. The last of these might have benefited from further investigation into the changing use of CAL in the curriculum. It was important not to become too involved in the educational aspects of computer-aided learning, so this was not as fully investigated as it might have been. Does the project understand why digital tools should be preserved? Whilst undertaking the project it seemed important to understand why we should wish to preserve obsolete digital learning tools in the first place: the obvious reason why they have not been in the past is that people have not considered it necessary, as new (better?) tools have been created to replace 30
them. The project addresses the reasons why we should want to preserve historic digital learning tools and provides justification for the effort involved. Does the project understand how digital tools can be preserved? In this area, the project identifies the primary means by which digital tools can be preserved: physical examples of the originals, migration and emulation. There is no significant discussion as to the pros and cons of each of these, since that was not the intention of the project. However, the project does also identify difficulties that might be encountered in preserving software and the potential threat that they pose. Does the project reach an appropriate conclusion, given the evidence? In forming conclusions, the project addresses the evidence that has been found and attempts to relate it to the reasons how and why educational software may have been lost. From this it is possible to support the argument that historic digital learning tools are worth the effort of preservation. The conclusions are then able to progress to some lessons that can be learnt from the past, so that preservation of past and current tools may be possible. Hopefully, these conclusions reflect the content of the project and are appropriate, given the evidence. 31
Bibliography [1] The CAMiLEON Project Web Site,, [17th March 2002] [2] Entwistle, Noel & Odor, Phil, (1982), Microelectronics in Scottish Education, ch.3, pp14-15, Scottish Academic Press. [3] Fothergill, Richard, (1983), The MEP in the UK, in: Computers and Education, Hoyle, E, Nisbet, S, Megarry, J & Walker, D R F (editors), ch.13, Kogan Page Ltd. [4] Gardner, Nigel, (1987), Integrating Computers Into the University Curriculum: the Experience of the UK Computers in Teaching Initiative, in: ACM-SIGUCCS XV, pp425-431, ACM [5] Resource Catalogue 2001/2002, Primary Education Software Catalogue 2002, secondary education Software Catalogue 2002, (2002), Learning and Teaching Scotland [6] FEU Report, (1984), Microcomputer Materials from MEP, Further Education Unit. [7] National Office for the information economy (Australia), (1999), International IT&T Skills Situation and Government Responses: Background Paper,, [27th April 2002] [8] BECTA, (2001), Review of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency,, [27th April 2002] [9] British Educational Software Database Web Site,, [14th March 2002] [10] Self, John, (1985), Microcomputers in Education: A Critical Appraisal of Educational Software, Harvester Press [11] CTI Chemistry Web Site,, [14th March 2002] [12] CTI Maths Web Site,, [14th March 2002] [13] CTI Computing Web Site,, [14th March 2002] 32
[14] HEFCE Report, (1998), TLTP Phase 3: Funded Projects ­ Outcome of Bids for Funding Under the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme, Higher Education Funding Council for England. [15] HEFCE Report, (1999), Use of TLTP materials in UK Higher Education, Higher Education Funding Council for England. [16] National Co-ordination Team Web Site,, [14th March 2002] [17] Harris, S and Preston, C, (1993), Software in Schools, National Educational Technology Foundation [18] Finney, A, The Domesday Project ­ November 1986, [17th March 2002] [19] Wheatley, Paul, (2001), Migration ­ a CAMiLEON Discussion Paper, [17th March 2002] [20] Preserving Spectrum Software,, [20th March 2002] [21] Educational Software Classics,, [20th March 2002] [22] Granger, Stewart, (2000), Emulation As a Digital Preservation Strategy,, [10th March 2002] [23] Joint Information Systems Committee,, [17th March 2002] [24] Holdsworth, David and Wheatley, Paul, (2001), Emulation, Preservation and Abstraction,, [13th December 2001] [25] Holdsworth, David, (2001), C-ing Ahead for Digital Longevity,, [13th December 2001] 33
[26] The Commission on Preservation and Access and the Research Libraries Group, Inc., (1996), Preserving Digital information: Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, [27] Charlesworth, Andrew, (2002), Legal Issues Arising from the Work Aiming to Preserve Elements of the Interactive Multimedia Work Entitled "The BBC Domesday Project", ILTU, University of Hull [28] Electronic Libraries Program,, [20th March 2002] [29] Educational Object Economy,, [20th March 2002] [30] Open University Software Archive,, [14th March 2002] 34
Appendix A ­ Reflections On the Project Experience Overall, producing this project has been a rewarding experience. It presented the opportunity to research into an area of interest to me, following an industrial placement year at Research Machines Plc., one of the largest educational IT companies in the UK. Having gained a great deal of experience of the current application of IT in British schools it was interesting to develop an appreciation of the origins and development of computer-aided learning. This is the largest-scale work that I had undertaken up to this point and therefore provided something of a learning curve into the necessary organisation of work in order to meet project aims. That the project was quite wide-open to interpretation at the start proved both a help and a hindrance. It was beneficial to have a wide scope of avenues to explore, so that the maximum interest and value could be gained from the project. However, the choice in what could be research also meant that for a while there was an attempt to cover too much ground in the available time. The main weakness in the work resulted from not having clearly defined what research was necessary early enough in the process. This meant that by the time I had identified that it would be helpful to address how schools currently use IT and talk to them about how they replace software and what they may have done with obsolete tools, there was insufficient time left to organise this. This was also true of attempting to retrieve `lost' software; with more time it would have been possible to conduct detailed investigation into exactly where (and if) copies of the originals were held. Some difficulties in the project also came in finding people to talk to about their experiences of the projects that created early digital learning tools. The assistance of Gwyneth Pettit and Paul Brna in this area was very useful, but it would have been good to have a greater range of opinions and experiences to draw on; unfortunately others contacted were unable to provide assistance within the project timeframe. The schedule for completion drawn up at the mid-project stage was a fairly realistic assessment of the stages at which various parts of the project would need to be complete and if followed as presented would no doubt have been a very manageable way to organise the project. Delays in defining the most important avenues of research and limiting what needed to be covered actually meant that the schedule was not followed to the letter. Had the necessary research been completed on time, it would have been possible to begin writing-up earlier; the lesson here would be to begin writing as soon as possible. At the end of the project I am happy that although not organised to the strictest schedule, I have been able to achieve what was set out in the project aims. 35
Appendix B ­ Examples of Historic Digital Learning Tools Produced Under the MEP
I ­ "Boat Hull Design", (1986), Academic Software [Academic Software: Gwyneth Pettit, Sourby Old Farm, Timble, Otley, Yorks LS21 2PW]
Early Secondary School
Platform(s) BBC B/B+/Master
The premise of the program is that the user(s) are stranded on a desert island 10km from the mainland. Using Raw Materials, buried treasure and tools located on the island, the aim is to construct the most efficient hull shape for a boat, made from the most suitable timber. The performance of the hull can then be tested by building a model and using testing apparatus connected to the computer (via the BBC's User Port).
Aims: Develop problem-solving skills Give an insight into the problems of boat hull design Give an insight into the role, testing and correct use of materials Illustrate the kind of work in which engineers are involved
Objectives: Use a microcomputer as a design resource Observe, recall and interpret information related to trees Perform tests related to the properties of timber Make judgements within the constraints of a problem-solving situation Design a simple boat within the constraints of choices available in the program Analyse design considerations and hence the actual model Comments on the Program from the Manual "It is felt that the flexible nature of the program allows individuals to work at their own pace." "The program can be used to reinforce cross-curricular activities, especially in science and humanities."
II ­ "CADVISE (Computer Aided Design VISualisation, Extended) in True 3D", (1986), Academic Software
Platform(s) BBC B/B+/Master, Acorn Archimedes
"The package has been developed in continual contact with a team of CDT advisers and teachers and has been widely tested in the classroom and workshop."
"CADVISE is therefore a package which allows the designer to ask `what if?' in ways which the traditional physical constraints of wood or metalworking... have not previously allowed."
Explore a lateral approach to visualisation and design Establish and promote the relative language of two and three-dimensional design Establish and develop the sense of spatial awareness Develop the familiarity of conceptual design Promote the use of abstraction as a means of understanding form Encourage judgement and decision-making with regard to aesthetics of form Encourage judgement and discrimination between form and function, relative to aesthetic and ergonomic criteria
Learning Objectives Interactive computer/drawing board design work Techniques involved in generating realistic two and three-dimensional forms Analysing and evaluating and existing form and identifying abstracted composite units Exploring alternatives and making decisions about combinations as solutions (i.e. conceptualising observed form) Identifying and manipulating a simplistic form to produce a design solution using primary, secondary and composite prismatic units (i.e. a conceptual image) Manipulating and visualising concepts on the monitor screen
III ­ "Kitchen Planner in 3D", (1986), Academic Software
Home Economics
Platform(s) BBC B/B+/Master, Acorn Archimedes
This program was produced in association with the LEAs of West Yorkshire and trial working parties of teachers and pupils.
An "introduction to kitchen design theory."
Develop an awareness of the criteria of kitchen design Provide practice in manipulating design elements by designing kitchens of varying standard configurations Facilitate ergonomic evaluation of kitchen design in an educational context Encourage the ability to visualise spatial layouts in 3D Encourage the ability to formulate efficient and aesthetically pleasing spatial design
Objectives Interpretation of diagrams in terms of shape, size, distance and position Identification of criteria for good kitchen design: efficiency, safety and hygiene Evaluation of ergonomic and visual evidence and considerations Observation and analysis of an existing kitchen design Assessment of the success of a design and the ability to synthesize a revised plan which improves the design in one or more critical areas
IV ­ "`Compleat' Meal Planner", (1986), Academic Software
Home Economics
Platform(s) BBC B/B+/Master
"This package goes much further than providing an `intelligent recipe book'... many students do not appreciate what is involved in menu-planning for good health and economic effectiveness."
Provides "a framework for home economics students to practice decision-making and Problem Solving."
This program can be used as a recipe book, a theoretical tool for nutritional analyses, work planning and menu planning and to stimulate discussion of dietary needs of social, cultural or medical groups.
The use of icons in the program "makes it easy to use in multi-cultural teaching situations."
Aims Provide a recipe book for practical and theoretical study Supplement traditional practical work with more flexible computer-based information Enable students to obtain nutritional analyses of a wide variety of multi-cultural foods and recipes Reinforce nutritional knowledge and experience Enable students to solve problems related to planning of menus Enable students to solve problems related to planning of work schedules
Objectives Reinforcement of current dietary goals Evaluation of choice of recipes in terms of nutritional analyses Evaluation of choice of recipes in terms of level of difficulty of preparation and cooking Interpretation and analysis of data Evaluation of practical experience Problem-solving in menu planning Problem-solving in work planning
V ­ "Human Digestion Simplified", (1986), Academic Software
Home Economics (and biology)
Platform(s) BBC B/B+/Master
Produced in association with teachers and students in West and North Yorkshire.
The program demonstrates processes involved in human digestion, using full animation and graphics facilities of the BBC microcomputer. This is simplified to convey the essentials of digestion: a simple outline, presenting the fundamentals of enzyme action in digestion and absorption; stress on the part enzymes play in nutrient hydrolysis and identifying graphically the action of specific enzymes on carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Enable pupils to visualise the breakdown and absorption of nutrients and to identify the site of activity Demonstrate the Structure And Function of the Digestive system in relation to the rest of the human body Provide a visualisation of abstract principles of digestion Provide a means for demonstrating the role of fibre and other nutrients in diet
Objectives Identify and name parts of the digestive system and other closely associated parts of the human body Understand what is meant by specific enzymes and to recognise where they are located, the substances they act on, substances they produce and the part they play in digestion Understand digestive and absorptive processes for a range of foods when divided into their component nutrients
Appendix C ­ Basis for Assumptions of Replacement of CAL in Schools The author has been unable to discover any analyses of the ways in which schools buy, organise, upgrade and maintain their systems beyond the survey of Harris and Preston, published in 1993 [12]. Whilst this gives a good insight into the state of computer-based learning in British schools in the nineteen-nineties, the survey data is now over ten years old, a time period during which much change has occurred. In particular, the effects of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) will undoubtedly have caused a major change in the facilities available in schools and the basis of CAL, given that it is the Government's wish that every schoolchild should have access to the internet. In order to come to some conclusions on the ways in which IT is used and, particularly, replaced in schools, a certain amount of informed guesswork had had to be made by the author. The basis for this is in his experiences of using computers at school, gaining knowledge on the current demands of the National Curriculum and the aims of the NGfL. The author also spent an industrial placement year working in the Internet for Learning (IFL) department at Research Machines Plc., during which time visits were made to a number of schools, from which a general impression of the kind of IT in place could be gained. For anyone considering further research into the areas covered by this project, an up-to-date survey along the lines of that conducted by Harris and Preston would undoubtedly be extremely useful. 41

EB Drake

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