Although the media-rich content and interactivity provided by computer-based material can be pedagogically useful, it can lack the human dimension that is important to effective teaching. To be truly effective, the communication capabilities of the computer must be used to create a feedback loop between instructor and student.
A new and particularly promising approach known as Just-in-Time Teaching, JiTT, has been pioneered at Indiana University and the United States Air Force Academy and further developed at Davidson College. JiTT is described in detail in the book Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology [G. Novak, E. Patterson, A. Gavrin, and W. Christian, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1999].
The JiTT pedagogy exploits an interaction between Web-based study and an active-learner classroom. Students respond electronically to carefully constructed web-based assignments before class. The instructor reads the student submissions "just-in-time" to adjust the lesson content and activities to suit the students' needs. Thus, the heart of JiTT is the feedback loop formed by the students' outside-of-class preparation and the instructor's response to student submissions which affects what happens during the in-class time.
Although JiTT can be implemented fully using technically simple web-based assignments, incorporating Java-based questions heightens the extent to which student understanding can be probed and encouraged. Responding to questions that involve watching or analyzing an animation often requires different skills and a different level of understanding than responding to static questions. JiTT is ideally suited to help students improve their analysis skills and deepen their understanding.