Computers in education : the "HyperEd NZ" courseware series in some New Zealand schools, 1992.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This project arose out of a desire to see if computers were starting to fulfil their potential in engaging higher order thinking skills in pupil users. The.choice of educational software to evaluate was prompted by the availability of a wide ranging series of teacher-written, easily-available HyperCard-based courseware collectively called "HyperEd NZ" for the Apple Macintosh computer. These titles have been acclaimed overseas, and there are equivalent HyperCard-like platforms being developed for other computer families. To establish which titles of this series were being used in New Zealand schools in 1992, and to what extent their users thought they were achieving worthwhile learning outcomes a teacher attitude questionnaire was sent out to a number of schools with Macintosh machines. It was seen that 20 titles of the 28 had been used in at least one class. One title, "School Certificate Mathematics" was reported on by seven classes, all to useful effect. Other responses showed that in some cases teacher directed activities through specific tasksheets improved the possibility of positive learning outcomes. A significant number of titles involved the pupils in elements of simulation, transferring of knowledge to other work and other higher order thinking skills. In a few cases less successful learning outcomes could be explained by unfamiliarity with the then-new computer environment or inadequate direction from teachers. Overall, however, the HyperEd series was seen to be well-designed and useful courseware, providing many useful examples of interesting and worthwhile supplements or alternatives to other learning experiences. The titles are good examples of hypertext-based courseware. This feeling was reinforced by pupil attitude questionnaires and a limited case study carried out using "Hype-Poet" with two 6th Fom Certificate English classes using the pre-test and post-test model. Some of the doubts expressed by teachers regarding the use of HyperCardbased software were allayed by the study. For instance, the slow response to buttons noted by many reviewers was not seen as a problem by most pupils, even on the larger titles such as 'Hyperf-oet". This was especially so if they were paired and using a suitable task-sheet. Instructions were sometimes unclear, but never enough to deter learning. The software was generally 'well-behaved' in the hands of pupils and navigation tools were sufficient and suitable. Most pupils were in pairs or greater numbers and in keeping with earlier research the pairs and trios seemed to achieve higher learning outcomes than individuals. Pupils tended to see the courseware as better tha.n an equivalent textbook, . while teachers were more circumspect in this comparison. Some gender differences were found in the copmpletion of tasks and pupils' opinions of the programme. Females tended to complete the tasks set more often and males were more inclined to be critical of the programme look and feel. Both teachers and pupils found the courseware highly motivational - many mentioning the novelty or innovative factors.