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The computer delusion

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97jul/computer.htm

ITs true, If anything, they are destructive to young children who typically use it to play games and get themselves addicted.  The biggest blow came when Brittanica decided that henceforth. all future editions will be based on CD ROM/DVD.  Its like  kissing a girl in one of those virtual reality programs. It can never come close to the real thing

Excerpt:
There is no good evidence that most uses of computers significantly improve teaching and learning, yet school districts are cutting programs -- music, art, physical education -- that enrich children's lives to make room for this dubious nostrum,

Karthik
Monday, January 19, 2004

Its more fun to browse a encyclopedia holding it in your hand. Encarta was the biggest disaster to happen to learning. Bernard Shaw once claimed that he browsed through the entire brittanica (Except the scientific articles).

With Encarta, And the snob value of showing off your Brittanica on your shelf  is gone!

Karthik
Monday, January 19, 2004

The article is an old one; it goes back to 97.

In the UK they sold off the playing fields to buy Acorn computers.

Then they wonder why the kids are obscenely overweight and the England cricket team gets troucned by the Sri Lankans!

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 19, 2004

The fellow who wrote THE COOKCOO's EGG wrote a book called SILICON SNAKE OIL. I forget his name.

But he points out how the computer so dazzles the students and teachers that no one realizes that no learning is going on.

The real Entrepreneur
Monday, January 19, 2004

Having been a one time subscriber to The Atlantic Monthly, I think it's safe to say that anything published there is of dubious reliability at best. It's not a publication interested in journalistic integrity or scientific progress. They're interested in sensation and generating buzz.  Essentially it's daytime television for the literary set.

Clay Dowling
Monday, January 19, 2004

Here in our school district we have a program called "Accelerated Reading." The students check out books on a (very long) list, and when they're done reading them, they take a standardized reading comprehension quiz on computers in the library.
The program scores the quiz and keeps track of the points earned by students. The kids can get books from any level, but higher-level books earn more points. The school ranks the kids by points, making it a contest, and at certain point levels there are prizes (anyone who gets that many points gets the prize, not just the first kid).

Our county's reading scores have skyrocketed - most of the kids love reading and every kid reads at their own level and pace, but feels encouraged to read more and move upwards.

My point is that we use computers as tools, not as "learning" in and of themselves.

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

It's merely symptomatic off all of the problems with education today. People want a silver bullet to fix things. Another standardized test, or more tech, or paying teachers more, or whatever. People think computers will magically make kids smarter through osmosis or something.

Computers are valuable in education, because the allow kids to experiment with things that are otherwise impossible, and additionally because they should graduate with some basic computer skills. Now, the fact that they are massively misused is irrelevant: they have value, and that value is not being used.

Mike Swieton
Monday, January 19, 2004

Philo, why do you need a computer for that?

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

Because we don't have enough staff to create and score 2-3 quizzes/kid/week and keep track of the points.

There are several HUNDRED books in the program, each with a quiz bank (so the quizzes are fairly varied).

This frees up the teachers to actually teach.

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

Oh right... I forgot computers do that. :P

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

"The fellow who wrote THE COOKCOO's EGG wrote a book called SILICON SNAKE OIL. I forget his name."

Clifford Stoll

I saw him speak a few years ago when I was an undergrad and was very much impressed with his arguments.  At the reception/discussion group afterward he made a number of similar arguments about the value of television (or rather the lack thereof).  He doesn't own a TV and doesn't miss it one bit and gave a number of very reasonable arguments about why he felt that he was better off without it.  I was inspired to try going without TV as an experiment and found that I didn't miss it, my interpersonal relationships improved without it, and I suddenly had time to do other things that I always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time to do before.  I do own a TV now, but I only use it to watch movie rentals occasionally.  I don't have cable or an antenna.  The ~$50/month I don't spend on cable TV buys a lot more entertainment value in watercolor painting supplies, good books to read, etc.

Matt
Monday, January 19, 2004

Matt, I completely agree with you. I've had my computer break and not bothered to repair it, and for a year or more after I moved into my apartment I had no TV.

When my computer broke, I feel my life actually improved. When I didn't have a TV... well mostly I spent more time on my computer. If I didn't have either, I'd probably read more and spend more time with my friends rather than just chatting with them online. On 0 degree farenheit days like we've been having it's very tempting to stay home.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

>>  and the England cricket team gets troucned by the Sri Lankans!

Solution: give Sri Lankan kids more computers!

Alex.ro
Monday, January 19, 2004

The main benefit of not owning a TV (and I guess, to a lesser extent PCs) is that the onus is no longer on you to properly manage and ration your time.

There are good shows on TV. There are, unfortunately, also a great deal of pointless time sinks.

SC
Monday, January 19, 2004

Computers are fantastic tools.

Programming can really develop the mind.

There are also educational apps that are really useful.

I would recommend SuperMemo as a fantastic educational app based on psychology principles - the DOS version was very good, but the Windows version simply SUCKS from a GUI point of view.


However, if you use the PC to browse the 'net, to chat, and to play games, then of course no learning is going on.

Jarred
Monday, January 19, 2004

Oh, I dunno, the same could be said for anything. Take reading. Reading is a great way to expand your mind, but when you degenerate into Muscle Car Monthly, TV Guide and Maxim you're really just passing time.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

SuperMemo looks interesting. I've long lamented the fact that I can learn something very interesting, but if it didn't immediately apply to my life, I'd completely forget the principle after a while.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

"There are good shows on TV. There are, unfortunately, also a great deal of pointless time sinks."

So true! My friends, do not miss My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. It's the most fun you can have legally. Stop what you're doing right now and turn on FOX! I'm on the east coast right now, so I'm giving you guys the heads up! This is television at its best!

Dennis Atkins
Monday, January 19, 2004

Mark, SuperMemo *works* very well - you indeed memorize. I liked the DOS version a lot and used it a lot.

However, the Windows version has a bad GUI. :-(

Jarred
Monday, January 19, 2004

What ever happened to CDC's Plato?

They put a lot of money in to developing it, then it disappeared.

mackinac
Monday, January 19, 2004

Thanks. By the way, the DOS version is available as freeware, but they say it may not work on an NT machine.

The Win 3.1 version is also available as freeware, I'll try playing with it tonight.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Actually I think Sri Lanka trashing England at cricket has more to do with the demise of the wrist spinner in the domestic game than it does the concentration on video games.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

In regards to people who mentioned Stoll and Philo, In "Silicon Snakeoil" (I read the first third of it) Stoll has a great quote: "Computers are a tool.  Screwdrivers are also tools, but we don't want to put a screwdriver on every students' desk."  I've always liked that quote.

Speaking as someone who works at a community college, I'll say that computers and students are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, our E-Learning programs really seem to help students (both college and accellerated highschoolers).  On the other hand, I have seen (and been) a student who surfed the web during class.

Andrew Burton
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Pens too are a tool. I think they should be on every student's desk.

<digging>
Computers are not a tool. They are an environment. The software they have are the tools. Said software/tools can indeed aid the learning process. This is a good thing. Stick them whereever you want, but have productive tools/software on them.
</digging>

Tapiwa
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

socrates wasn't into writing. I mean, can you really consider yourself an educated person if you can't recite book 3 of the illiad from memory? 


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"The main benefit of not owning a TV (and I guess, to a lesser extent PCs) is that the onus is no longer on you to properly manage and ration your time.

There are good shows on TV. There are, unfortunately, also a great deal of pointless time sinks. "

Kind of a side point, but one of the great things about PVRs (TiVo, ReplayTV) is that they also help to accomplish the same thing.  You can set them to record the few TV shows you really want to watch, and then you can see them when you actually want to instead of when they are on.  After a while you get to the point where you don't want to watch live TV anymore because it is so much less convenient, and you only ever watch what your TiVo records

Mike McNertney
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Tapiwa, to paraphrase something I think Joel has said, "Use the right tool for the right job."  I'm not saying computers are bad for students, just that (like the pen and screwdriver) they may not be the right tool for the right job.

I mean, pens aren't such a great tool that should be on every desk if you're in a classroom  taking a test that requires a #2 pencil.  Right tool for the right job.

S'what I'm saying.

Andrew Burton
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Oh. My. God. Is that nit you are picking the smallest nit ever or what. Dude, go get something to drink and/or find a girl. Seriously. You'll thank me.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ever go to a party and thinks are rocking and a hot babe starts talking to you and you have all the same interests and then she asks what you do for a living and you say 'I develop software' and suddently the conversation ends and she wanders off? This is the stereotypical thing that happens to developers and why I always say that I wrestle alligators for a living.

Developers == Boring

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Dennis,

Are you in the right thread there?

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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