It’s nice to see PLATO get a shout out in Michael Allen‘s Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting. Allen describes (p. 171) how the limitations of elearning prevent instructional designers from being able to always match practice to objectives. For instance, teaching writing skills on a computer is difficult because becoming a better writer involves practicing writing and getting feedback–feedback that a computer is incapable of giving.
That doesn’t mean elearning has no role to play. Allen speaks of the early days of PLATO and practice activities that asked learners to critique paragraphs using multiple choice questions. It made an impact on learners’ writing abilities (reportedly–Allen doesn’t cite research here–but plausibly). It wasn’t a complete solution, but a great start.