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resources | hopper, 1993b [abstract]

Hopper, M. E. (1993). Expert's views about key issues for courseware development in advanced computing environments [Abstract]. In H. Maurer (Ed.), Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 93 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 607.

[This is an abstract of a presentation which was based upon "Courseware Projects in Advanced Educational Computing Environments" (Hopper, 1993).]

New attempts to implement computers in education face many problems faced by older initiatives, as well as some that are a function of newer technology. Overemphasis on advice from experiences with older technology might endanger new efforts, and a cycle of wasteful failure and missed opportunity could result. The interactions of older problems with new technology can be explored by studying environments similar to those that are likely to become more available to education in the future. These environments have the following features:
  • Networking systems that support two or more types of workstations or personal computers
  • Easy access to international electronic networks (Internet)
  • Software for constructing simulations and distributed databases of "linked" text and graphics.

    A few key organizations have experimented with courseware development in advanced environments, and their efforts can be analyzed with hindsight by their participants.
    The data for this qualitative study was gathered through "ethnographic" interviews with 19 key developers and managers in educational computing initiatives or courseware development projects that used networked workstations from more than one vendor. Participants from four different organizations were selected to allow distinctions to be made between phenomena common across institutions and phenomena that occurred due to circumstances in particular organizations (Spradley, 1979).
    The following projects, organizations and participants were the focus of this study:
    Project: ESCAPE (HyperCard and HyperNews)
    Organizations: Educational Research and Information Systems (ERIS, Purdue)
    Participants: Hopper, Lawler, LeBold, Putnam, Rehwinkel, Tillotson, Ward
    Project: TODOR (BLOX) & Mechanics 2.01 (cT, Athena)
    Organizations: Athena and Academic Computing (AC, MIT)
    Participants: Bucciarelli, Daly, Jackson, Lavin, Schmidt
    Project: Physical Geology Tutor (AthenaMuse)
    Organizations: Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI, MIT)
    Participants: Davis, Kinnicutt, Lerman, Schlusselberg
    Project: Context32 (Intermedia, StorySpace)
    Organizations: Institute for Research and Information Scholarship (IRIS, Brown)
    Participants: Kahn, Landow, Yankelovich
    [See the Switchboard for further information.]

    In addition to transcriptions of interviews, published documents were used as a supplemental form of data. Analysis of the data revealed consistent relationships between three areas of concern inherent in the nature of "educational computing projects". These three areas were pedagogy, technology and organizations. Pedagogical decisions presented technical problems, that resulted in organizational challenges. In attempts to take advantage of valuable pedagogical goals afforded by new technological capabilities, technical challenges became intertwined with traditional organizational structures for distributing and managing human, technological, and financial resources. Over the course of projects, opportunities and limitations afforded by the pedagogical, technical, and organizational contexts became reflected in the character of the courseware that was developed.


    Champine, G.A. (1991). MIT Project Athena: A Model for Distributed Campus Computing. Bedford, MA: Digital Press.

    LeBold, W.K., Hopper, M.E., Feghali, A.A. (1991). A Hypermedia Solution to a Hyper Problem: Personalized Computer Engineering Career System. 1991 ASEE-IEEE Conference Proceedings , p. 482-488.

    Spradley, J.P. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. New York, NY: Holt Reinhart & Winston.

    Yankelovich, N, Meyerowitz, N. & VanDam, A. (1985). Reading and Writing the Electronic Book. IEEE Computer, 18(10) 85, 15-30.

    Mary E. Hopper [MEHopper] | MEHopper@TheWorld.com [posted 00/00/00 | | revised 02/02/02]