Comment 2SWM Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs


First computer system I used


GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-23 10:41 (#2STP)

I suppose my first computer experience was early Macs in the school computer lab, but I hardly even think of them as computers. They could almost have been VCRs with a keyboard and mouse dangling off of them, for all we knew. You go in, do the idiotic typing-tutor program for a few minutes, then you play some click-to-color the picture, or a puzzle game the rest of the time. Later, some office apps were there, too, and I dutifully learned how to do all kinds of crazy document formatting, year after year, over and over again, which I certainly never needed, and couldn't recall today if I tried. But something like internet access was kept strictly away from students, as they couldn't be trusted, and only rationed out very sparingly.

Without the GUI, schools couldn't have ruined/neutered computers quite so effectively, and there certainly wouldn't have been nearly so much impetus to do so (ie. no porn, less malware, etc.).

Schools don't have a clue how to use technology, in general. Time on computers is just a check-box they have to mark to show they're modern and not useless. Tell me, once TVs and VCRs pervaded classrooms, why were students still forced to READ Shakespeare plays over the course of several weeks? It does seem that K-12 was nothing but busywork, hoisted upon students like something out of Dante's inferno, used only to prove you're willing to put-up with the pain to get the supposed reward of a college education and high-paying future jobs. It's justified as "tradition", ie. school was miserable when your teachers were kids, so it should be miserable today, too.

Now, a computer lab where kids get a blank command-line on a Unix system, and have free reign to do whatever they want in their home directory (explore, program, browse with lynx, etc), THAT would be incredibly useful educational tool, so, of course, schools would never consider doing something as awful as that...

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-24 05:00 (#2SVT)

I am teaching in an elementary school.

I fully agree kids would learn more if you removed the GUI. However, it would not be fully as efficient as you think:
1. Smart phones exist. When I cut out the Internet from their computers in order to get them to do something useful, they begin using their phones instead and I still need to be alert in following what they do rather than concentrating on teaching.
2. If smart phones would not exit, we would see a quick increase in the bigger IRC communities. They would fill their home folders with text games, irc clients etc rather than going through the material and it becomes even more difficult for the teachers to see from a distance if they are really doing their task. In this kind of cases usually one smart kid able to do it is enough as he will install it for all other.

My point is that if kids are not interested in doing what they are supposed to do, they will always find something else to do. The biggest difficulty a teacher is facing is how to make the material interesting enough and at the same time convince the kids they really need to go through it.

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-24 06:53 (#2SVW)

When I cut out the Internet from their computers in order to get them to do something useful
That's called micro-managing. I don't believe it has any useful effect. The fact that you're ABLE to do so, doesn't mean you SHOULD. If kids don't turn-in their assignments, they get bad grades. It's true whether they're watching TV instead of doing their homework, or browsing the internet instead of doing their computer course work.
if kids are not interested in doing what they are supposed to do, they will always find something else to do.
Indeed. And the kind of controls teachers / administrators put on computers to try and force kids to do their extremely narrowly-defined coursework, is monumentally detrimental to kids actually learning how to use a computer. That only results in rote memorization and following rigidly defined step, and further becomes a tremendously onerous atmosphere where the most basic exploration is brutally punished...

Frankly, NOTHING you can teach them in that locked-down atmosphere, is anything worth learning. I would rather see the money spent on computer labs go to other projects.

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-25 08:09 (#2SWM)

This might sound like I am contradicting myself. My point is that removing GUI alone is not solving the problem as they will always find things to do. Still I believe putting restrictions have an effect. To just blame the GUI however is wrong. You need to deal with the temptation, whatever it is.

No sane teacher is showing with a video projector every single step the kids should do and expecting them to do the same. No teacher is having the kids to memorize all the steps. I am giving them the result and I tell them to use whatever method they want to achieve the result. That includes reading the built in help, using google etc. This makes them ready to use the next version when the GUI has changed. I only help them when they have been long time enough stuck without advancing in the task. With temptations their time will be lost in games and shuch rather than in experimenting.

When you lock down the environment you remove the temptations and you actually get better result. That I know and I have been witnessing. It actually takes more effort to learn in this way rather than having them to memorize everything. As the effort grows, they more easily pick up the low hanging temptations.

Let's say you have a alcohol addict. If that person is getting away from places where alcohol is served he has better chance to stay sober. Walking into a bar would be dangerous. In the same way if you notice the kids are not able to handle a temptation, you remove it so they better are able to concentrate on their tasks. When you have an Internet Facebook addict, you remove Internet access for that one. Okay, that particular pupil lost one way to solve the task: googling for help. Still getting the task done with built in help is better than not getting it done at all.

In the school I am teaching we do not have any particular restriction besides that they can only install stuff in their own home folder and not as root. However, if I see that someone is not able to handle the freedom, I remove what was the temptation for them.

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