Why Computers In The Classroom

Why computers in the classroom? That question is rarely asked today. Many other questions are asked. Which computers? When and how can computers be used? But it is part of modern life that computers will be in the room. Even places dense with information and things to study, like libraries and museums, have found that keeping out smartphones, tablets, and soon wearable tech is too disruptive. Getting everyone to turn off their devices takes more convincing than just saying, “Turn it off.”

November 1975 was the era after “how many classrooms per computer” and before “are students allowed to use their own (BYOD)”. The people at People’s Computer Company asked the right question at the right time.

Scroll through the PCC edition

People’s Computer Company

recently scanned and added to Stanford’s Digital Repository. Stop at page 28 (after skimming past pages that have layouts with high levels of innovation.)

“I believe that most teachers are overwhelmed by the dilemma of what to present to their students. They are aware that their material will be used by more students more often and they conclude that it must be prepared with a proportionate increase in care. In addition, the teacher is a learner on each new machine and often hesitates to step down to the role of classmate.” – Liza Loop

That quote from Liza Loop (founder of HCLE) could be copied and pasted into today’s debates. Evidently, we haven’t made much progress in the last few decades, despite the billions that have flowed to improving hardware and software. (And on certain days after certain upgrades that’s debateable too.)

This is a #ThrowbackThursday post, an informal bit of fun enjoyed by museum and library types because we have so much access to so much material. Yet, it is poignant to come across such a timeless passage while looking for images of dragons (common throughout PCC) and FORTRAN Man (an action hero based on a programming language with a sidekick called BASIC.)

We certainly do need to look back to see where we are going, and at least for this one passage, it seems that to pick up the pace we’ll have to do something differently.

 

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One thought on “Why Computers In The Classroom

  1. I wish I deserved credit for many of the things I said so long ago. More often I heard it from someone else whose thinking was way ahead of mine. This is one reason why the Ed. Tech Pioneers Initiative is so important. It took more than a village to create the computer revolution in education and it will take all of us to make sure that the potential for enhancing learning is realized. Many of today’s conservative teachers (and teaching is inherently a conservative activity) seem ready to embed the computer into traditional classrooms and preserve conventional structures of schools with walls and students as captive audiences. Computing can be liberating and disruptive. It’s use in education has been questioned since the beginning as this little ‘Mailgram’ demonstrates. http://hcle.wikispaces.com/DrPeckMailgram. Which side are you on? Think about it.

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