[Techtalk] improving computer usage in schools

Dan Richter daniel.richter at wimba.com
Wed Feb 12 16:35:02 EST 2003

I'm not quite sure that this is the right place to discuss the, but I'll 
shamelessly jump in.

People are always talking about putting computers in schools, but nobody 
seems to know quite what to do with them. That is apparently the case here.

I was originally going to say that computers can't really be used to teach 
small children with short attention spans. But then I remembered that I had 
a TI99 computer that hooked up to the TV when I was in grade school. It had 
a few educational games that I played off and on. But most interestingly, I 
learned to program it in Basic. I actually wrote a bunch of Print 
statements that told a story, hardly an interesting program, but the use of 
line numbers did show some abstract thinking.

I grew up and became a computer programmer, but most people don't. And I 
don't think anyone here is naive enough to think that most children can 
grow into programmers if we just push them in the right direction. We all 
have different talents: how many of us were forced to take piano lessons 
and never turned out to be musical geniuses?

The bottom line is that computers can be used to teach and (more often) to 
reinforce what is taught, but they are by no means indispensible. Stop 
thinking like a programmer. Forget about Wiki: for young children, stick to 
drawing programs and way-too-cutesy programs written by professionals, 
which can be used to express creativity. And when the kids are older, use 
the text-only nature of the Internet to your advantage: the Web forces you 
to read. Other than programming classes, the only time computers really 
contributed to my schooling is when we learned to type.

========== Dan Richter ============== mailto:Dan at wimba.com ===========
     Adorable children are considered to be the general property of
     the human race. Rude children belong to their mothers.
             - Judith Martin

More information about the Techtalk mailing list