Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


Due to highly publicized school rankings, an increased number of corporate universities, and the proliferation of distance learning options, IS educators are under considerable pressure to improve their levels of efficiency. Automated learning systems such as Computer-Based Training (CBT) and interactive videos could significantly enhance the efficiency of IS education. However, many researchers and educators are skeptical of the pedagogical effectiveness of automated instruction, claiming that computers are no substitute for human instructors. Because of this skepticism, the use of automated learning systems in IS education still remains controversial. To promote systematic research on the effectiveness of automated learning systems, I address in this paper this skepticism about automated instruction. In particular, I present a contingency framework for investigating the effectiveness of automated learning systems. The basic premise is that automated learning systems do not need to be effective in all situations to be deemed useful. If these systems are used for those situations in which they are most effective, the gains in efficiencies, especially in terms of instructors’ time, could be redirected to other teaching and research activities. Hence, I argue that systematic research should be conducted to identify the contingencies for which automated learning systems could be effectively used in IS curricula.