The development of a multi-function computer-assisted instruction system using a hierarchical database structure as the lesson compendium.
Computer-Based Learning systems of one sort or another have been in existence for almost 20 years, but they have yet to achieve real credibility within Commerce, Industry or Education. A variety of reasons could be postulated for this, typically: - cost - complexity - inefficiency - inflexibility - tedium Obviously different systems deserve different levels and types of criticism, but it still remains true that Computer-Based Learning (CBL) is falling significantly short of its potential. Experience of a small, but highly successful CBL system within a large, geographically distributed industry (the National Coal Board) prompted an investigation into currently available packages, the original intention being to purchase the most suitable software and run it on existing computer hardware, alongside existing software systems. It became apparent that none of the available CBL packages were suitable, and a decision was taken to develop an in-house Computer-Assisted Instruction system according to the following criteria: - cheap to run; - easy to author course material; - easy to use; - requires no computing knowledge to use (as either an author or student) ; - efficient in the use of computer resources; - has a comprehensive range of facilities at all levels. This thesis describes the initial investigation, resultant observations and the design, development and implementation of the SCHOOL system. One of the principal characteristics c£ SCHOOL is that it uses a hierarchical database structure for the storage of course material - thereby providing inherently a great deal of the power, flexibility and efficiency originally required. Trials using the SCHOOL system on IBM 303X series equipment are also detailed, along with proposed and current development work on what is essentially an operational CBL system within a large-scale Industrial environment.