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Using computers for learning: An historical study of four early programs

, The University of New Mexico, United States

The University of New Mexico . Awarded


This dissertation looks at the early history of instructional and educational computing. The basic research questions ask about the origins of using computers for learning. Where did the idea come from and how was it implemented. How did the early programs develop and what influence did they have on the subsequent development of the field.

The four earliest approaches and programs were identified and their history traced through archives, interviews, and publications. These programs were:

Herbert Simon and Alan Newell at Carnegie-Mellon University. Simon and Newell's idea of using a computer to simulate human behavior, particularly cognition, is the basis for much of instructional and educational computing. Their work also had a great deal of influence on the field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

Patrick Suppes and Richard Atkinson at Stanford University. Suppes and Atkinson created the first computer-assisted instruction program. They sought to optimize the instructional process and to create a tutorial system that would help every user learn effectively. Their work was strongly influenced by behavioral psychology. The program began in 196?.

Donald Bitzer at the University of Illinois. Bitzer and others in the engineering school created PLATO—Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations. They called this a system for "computer-based education." PLATO is the ancestor of course management systems. The program began in 196?.

Seymour Papert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Papert's early work began in 1967, and the LOGO Program dates to 1971. LOGO is a programming language and an approach to using computers as tools for learning through exploration and doing. Papert was strongly influenced by the ideas of the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget.


Brady, K.C. Using computers for learning: An historical study of four early programs. Ph.D. thesis, The University of New Mexico. Retrieved April 21, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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