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The emergence of computer technology has had profound implications for instruction. Recent efforts in the field have shifted the focus from knowledge-as-a-product to learning-as-a-process. Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) focuses on learning as a collaborative activity that is situated in its environment. The paper describes the Apprenticeship Learning Object Toolkit (ALOT), a generalized architecture, that forms the basis of a family of computer tutoring systems. The system utilizes the apprenticeship model of learning to create a learning environment for the study of operational procedures of experiments in the physical sciences. Examples include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy or x-ray diffractometry (XRD). The development of a learning environment is driven by the goal of linking theoretical knowledge with practical operational experience. Active, exploratory, apprentice-style learning is supported via modes of operation within the system. The student can flexibly choose to "observe the expert" perform and explain operational steps, or "act as an apprentice" and carry out the steps autonomously. The student can switch between these modes at their discretion, giving the student control of the level of intervention by the system. In addition, the student can explore and reflect on an "information space" of object designations, procedures, and related concepts. Additionally, the BAUEN (basic authoring environment) is introduced. BAUEN is a graphical user interface system that is intended to help the designer author a computer tutorial system with maximum efficiency, focusing the developer's efforts on domain content and not on system implementation.