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The Firewall in the Mind (Slide 15) Programmed Instruction

The Programmed instruction model was the only choice we had back then, given the tools and mindset that we had, PI, as the name suggests, is a series of lessons constructed in such a way that by progressing through them the student will at least be exposed to all aspects of your instructional program, and if the lessons are constructed in such a way that the student can't progress without showing mastery of each level, then this was called Mastery Learning. Both concepts were used in developing early CAI, or computer assisted instruction programs.

Note that it used to be widely known as CAI as opposed to CAL, computer assisted learning, as it came to be called, with emphasis on the learning. When a symposium was held at the TESOL conference in Toronto in 1982 I believe, there was a debate among the invited participants as to what to call the emerging discipline. I have to admit that I had a firewall problem in my mind at the time and argued that it should be called CALI, or computer assisted language instruction, since CAI (computer assisted instruction) seemed to be more widely used in the literature at the time and would therefore be most consistent and better understood. I found myself opposed across the table by John Higgins who urged the group to call it 'learning' and break with the 'instruction' overtones right from the beginning. Fortunately John won out, and we now practice CALL, or Computer assisted language learning.

(Levy has a chapter on these acronyms and what they imply people were thinking about how they approached the use of computers in their work: Michael Levy. 1997. Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization. Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Another interesting story from the same conference is that John Higgins and many others were offered the associate-chair position of the Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section that was being formed in TESOL at the time, but each turned it down, one by one. Eventually someone suggested me, I eked by in a vote, and that's how I became first officially appointed chair of the CALL Interest Section in TESOL when it was finally formed a year later.

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Last updated: May 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0