On the cognitive transfer in CBL environments
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In this paper we report on a longitudinal study of a Leonardo da Vinci program about the application of a Computer Based Learning environment in three EU countries, Greece, Germany, and the Netherlands. Firstly we clarify the notion of CBL environments, in comparison to multimedia and distance learning ones, and then we provide some theoretical background about these environments. The main research question we tried to answer was whether the application of the environment could perform adequately without the presence of a domain expert as a «teacher», but relying on a «tutor» who had five main tasks to perform during the instructional phase, as described in the paper. In order to answer this question, we designed and constructed an integrated environment and, in addition to this, an instructional methodology for it. The application of the environment by the partners showed our hypothesis to be correct, moreover we elicited results about the different user groups that worked with the environment and their performance under different circumstances. We studied the combination of CBL training and real practice in real environments, among some other issues concerning the application of CBL environments in general, and we provide some statistical facts as observed and reported during the two pilot studies and the five applications of the environment in the three participating European countries. We conclude by arguing that the tutor, as described in this paper, performs more than satisfactorily and demands far fewer resources than a real domain expert. We also pinpoint some points of concern about CBL environments as well as their applicabiltiy in real circumstances with or without a tutor.