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A History of Probeware

Abstract

"'Probeware' --also called 'microcomputer-based labs', MBL, 'Calculator Based Labs', and CBL-- represents one of the most valuable contributions of computers to education. By connecting probes to a computer running suitable software, students can observe real-time data in a variety of formats. When placed in an inquiry-based learning context, this capacity can significantly increase and speed learning.

The following is the first review of the development and dissemination of probeware. The goal in recounting this history is threefold. First, it is important to summarize what has been learned about probeware to guide educators and researchers interested in this area. I will try to summarize the literature, recount some unpublished observations, describe notable software, and speculate on lessons learned. Secondly, the story of the development and dissemination of probeware provides insights on educational change and the role of research and development. These insights are important for policy-makers and funders. Finally, the many people who have contributed to the development and dissemination of probeware need to be acknowledged."

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