backgrounds & references

the 'Parallel Instruction theory'

Parallelism and the Parallel Instruction theory explains why the cd-i has failed and web-based media are an enormous success. The Parallel Instruction theory explains why ms.dos and commandline-based computers are less important for the public and windowing computers and the desktop philosophy are so important as they are nowadays. The Parallel Instruction theory explains the approach of the modern, creative people in his/here natural habitat: secretaries with computers, students, scientific workers, writers and even children. The Parallel Instruction theory explains why voluminous reports, writen papers, fat books, news on television and even PowerPoint presentations need - parallel - explanation: live!

The concept and the theory

The ideas about parallelism and behind the 'PI-theory' are not only based - as it looks - on multi windowing principles and desktop concepts, but our theory is based on some strange aspects of our short term memory. A lot of users don't like computers, hypermedia or web-media because they lost there way - and information - in hyperspace. They want to have much better overviews about what they are doing in computer- of web-based working- or leaning-environments.

The concept

The screen of a PC is a terrible small viewport. So our theory is a design theory. In our kind of learning- or working- environments the student can see the model behaviour in the (open) simulation program simultanious with the instructional materials (both parallel); to see and compare the effects. A good designed program - for instance a simulation program - should also allow the student to change the model parameters and to monitor the variables at other window at the same time (project plan 1996, project plan 1998, NWO pro project plan 2002, NWO project plan 2003 and STW project plan 2003).

Information can be categorized on the basis of its contents (domain), appearance (picture or text), size and modality (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory). The philosopy behind the concept and the idea of parallelism is: using different viewports, more or bigger screen or different layers of information or modalities; parallel as far as its works (Claessens, 1999 and Tao Yu, 2002).

Schematically you see a simulation based open 'learning environment' in figure 2, with a lot of 'parallel' windows even 'parallel' paper-stuff. As we say: "all in view" and "all under control" (Min, 1992); "just in time" and "just in or at place" (Min, 2004).

The advantage of computer simulations is known: students can experiment with almost real situations without the dangers that experimenting always includes. The PI-theory is very usefull for building simulation environments in relation to instructional materials because it can combine the advantages of learning by experiences (open two-ways environments) and the most natural way to handel instructional and help information (one-way environments) (Min, 2001).

The theory

For educational designers the concepts of the PI-theory are a wurthfull asset in their knowledge how to design learning environments. Therefor we want you to have acces to the programs we already developed.

The problem of implementing this theory is that it was very hard to implement this in the hardware. It is technically very difficult to open two (running) windows at the same time. Therefor nine years ago (1986) the first system for designing simulations was developed. The years after there was a lot of research with this design and on the computer simulations it produced. Now we have a new system for building web-based software.

Schematic you see in figure 3, on the 'input side' of a learning environment a lot of different instruction types (modes of all kinds of instruction, such as texts, sheets, pictures, manuals, even a walkman-recorder with a instruction tape) and on the output side a lot of feedback forms, such as growing graphics, model-driven animations, intelligent model-driven 'text-messages' and/or 'video-messages'.

For all the designers the next designing rule is valid: the a-synchronic, simulatious processes on the 'input side' and on the same on the 'output side' of this kind of learning environments all have to be in view for the user and keep the learning process ruling.

We want to kwow or this will be important not only for simulations but also for other kinds or open learing and working environments especially in training situations and for solving complicated or less complicated tasks. All kinds of perception canals, dimensions of media (text, visuals, audia, etc.) and forms of feedback will be examine. We want to find a way to make digital environments richer and better for all kind of learning profiles. We have worked together with Holland Signaal in Hengelo (NL) and used their equipment and other things as their VR-room, animation tools, geometric models and skills (Cleassens, 2000)

The central research problem studied in this project is how to find theoretical base for the theoretical and fysical distance on the screen and on the desk of the learner between his computer-based problem solving space and the the coaching elements in open working, learning or doing enviroments. We do research how the concept of 'parallelism' and the 'parallel instruction theory' of Min (1992 - 1994) in simultaneous processes can be founded on psychological principles (as bad short time memory and adequate reference guides).

Thus: if - in an active or passive environment - the positions of all the information needed for solving a problem or doing a task is perfect (the parallelism concept) and the working memory of the user is perfect and the user can see perfectly all the cause-effect dynamics and all the new information lead to a new concept map for the user that matchs perfect with his/her old ideas (Vygotsky's zone theory), then the PI theory of Min (1992) predict that the application is optimal for task oriented learning, doing- and/or working.

The Parallel Instruction theory not only explains problems, striking effects, negative or positive, on the users in computer learning, problem solving or working on the desk top, but also in daily life and designing classrooms or television shows. For more information about the PI theory and the parallelism concept from daily life on television, with radio (passive), in exhibition halls, on computers and in web-browsers (active) in common, see my scientific rapports, my papers, my examples, my photo's, my other web-pages and the references.

New references

Old references

1994: Gritter, H. (Herman), W. (Wytze) Koopal and F.B.M. (Rik) Min,
A New Appraoch to Computer Simulations; Interact, European Platform for Interactive Learning, Vol. 1, no. 2, ISSN 0929-4465.

1995: Schaick Zillesen, P.G. van, F.B.M. (Rik) Min, M.R. Gmelich Meijling and B. Reimerink,
Computer support of operator training based on an instruction theory about parallelism. Kluwer Academic Publishers (Eds: M. Mulder, W. Nijhof en R. Brinkerhof). ISBN 0-7923-9599-9. p.209-226.

1995: Rik Min,
Simulation Technology and Parallelism in Learning Environments; Methods, Concepts, Models and Systems. Book. Publisher: Academic Book Center (ABC), De Lier (1995). ISBN 900-5478-036-3.

1996: Rik Min,
Parallelism in working-, learning- and do-environments. The Parallel Instruction Theory for Coaching in Open Learning Environments for Simulation. (Proceedings of the society for computer simulation International (SCS) (Eds. A. Verbraeck & P. Geril)

1999: Rik Min,
Interactive Micro-worlds on the World Wide Web (based on research about the parallel instruction theory and the concept of parallelism). Int. J. of Continuing Engineering, Education and Long-life Learning, vol.9, no.2/3/4, p.302-314, ISSN 0957-4344.

Original references

1992: Rik Min (1992),
Parallel Instruction, a theory for Educational Computer Simulation. Interactive Learning Intern., Vol. 8, no. 3, 177-183.

1994: Rik Min (1994),
Parallelism in open learning and working environments. Britsh Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 108-112. ISSN 0007-1013.

Other references / references from others

More and other references from literature and other sources, as

== Advertisement ==
Figure 6. My first advertisement in 'Byte' (Byte, March, 1996).
In this advertisment some information about my book about parallelism (up-left) and my cd.rom with a lot of prototypes with parallel instructions (down-left) is shown.

Enschede, 1999; updated in 2001, 2003 and 2004.