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Celebrating 50 Years: 1984

Institute for Computer Assisted Learning (ICAL)

In 1984 the University of Calgary was recognized as the foremost centre in the world for expertise in the Honeywell Multics System; the hardware and software had been installed as the University’s mainframe in 1982. Building on this expertise, and looking towards a future in which every faculty had “expressed the need for research and development in this technology,” the University began exploring the feasibility of establishing the Institute for Computer Assisted Learning (ICAL).

Honeywell had already been involved in “industrial affiliate relationships” with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkley and the University of Waterloo. Developing the base already provided by the “very powerful computer system” already purchased by the University from Honeywell, it was hoped the partnership would result in the creation of courseware, or computer assisted instruction programs, of consistent quality and flexibility for delivery to the classroom.

Core elements of ICAL’s mandate were: 1) to provide faculty members with the opportunity to develop expertise in computer assisted learning; 2) to provide programming and lesson support; 3) to support the effective use of computer assisted learning through the provision of services in instructional development, computer programming and evaluation; and 4) to foster research and development in computer assisted learning and assist in technology transfer.

ICAL was approved by the Board of Governors in December, 1984. Some of the early projects worked on were interactive video programs for Nursing, a data base project for University Theatre Services, lower division engineering courseware (LDEC) available on PLATO systems for Engineering, Physics and Chemistry, and pronunciation programs for first-year German and Russian classes using TANDBERG computer-controlled cassette recorders.

The Institute was amalgamated into Academic Computing Services (ACS) in March, 1989.

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