The Educational Computer System of the College of Dental Medicine in Charleston, South Carolina is an example of a rather unusual type of design philosophy. In keeping with the national trend toward increased use of computers both directly and indirectly in the educational process, the decision to acquire a computing capability was part of a general plan to improve the learning experience of the dental students. The college is a small school, with a total enrollment of 150 dental students, so the question of acquiring a large system for the purpose of implementing computer-assisted instruction was never raised. Of the two alternatives, time-sharing on someone else’s machine or acquisition of a minicomputer system in-house, the minicomputer system was selected. The challenge became to prove that effective computer-assisted instruction (CAI) could indeed be done inexpensively with the limited resources which would be available. This meant that it had to be done with an off-the-shelf hardware system, a standard operating system and language, and with relatively unskilled personnel. Clearly, special hardware, software modification, and highly trained personnel would necessitate an increase in costs which could not be justified by the small size of the student body. This chapter will present the rationale for selecting the minicomputer option and the ways in which the challenge was met to make the system a success. Most importantly the lessons learned and the pitfalls and problems of this approach will be described.
KeywordsDental Arch Dental Student Tooth Number Instructional Unit Dental Medicine
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