Tag Archives: HCLE

HCLE Autumn 2017 Progress Report

HCLE Autumn 2017 Progress Report

Welcome to the autumn quarter of 2017 HCLE progress report. Our Founder and Vision Keeper, Liza Loop, has been working for her Northern California neighbors who suffered great losses in the October fires. This has delayed some of our HCLE work.

We share many of the news items collected below via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and reddit) and repeat them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.6 FTEs, volunteers and outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the autumn (October through December) of 2017.

 

Exhibits

  • A prototype Proof of Concept of the museum Lobby was developed and alpha tested. Liza is not happy enough with it to share it yet.

Catalog

  • Improvements were made to expand operating system compatibility.
  • Additional documents, software and artifacts were catalogued.

Operations

  • Our contact database was updated in preparation for 2018 fundraising activities.

 

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.


 

  • Fundraising

    • Our fundraising is focusing on private donors. Although several institutional funders have circulated requests for proposals these are highly competitive and responding to them requires a large investment of staff time. Therefore, we feel that individuals, rather than organizations, are more likely to understand the value of having a small organization like ours preserving this history. Individuals appreciate the need for a small museum to reach the critical mass that will enable more formal proposals to foundations and agencies. Letters and personal communications are being readied for the 2018 fundraising efforts.
    • Formal proposals will be considered as appropriate.

 

  • Collection

    • Scanning and cataloging of the Liza Loop collection continues.
    • A business close to the Collection has donated the use of their large format scanner for items that don’t fit on HCLE’s on-site equipment.

 

  • Catalog

    • Work on the Catalog continues with improvement in the process and expansion software compatibility across more operating systems and platforms.
    • The possibility of porting the Catalog to a different architecture is being discussed and tested with prospective contractors.

 

  • People/Volunteers

    • More than 15 volunteers have worked to customize our implementation of Salesforce and our wiki. More advanced business analytical skills are necessary to customize this platform so that it enhances LO*OP Center’s project structure. Staff is searching for a key volunteer or affordable contractor who can do this work.

 

Social Media Traffic Report

1/1/2014 12/30/2015 12/31/2016 12/31/2017
Facebook 59 104 171 187
Twitter 67 408 493 543
WordPress 18 49 50 55
Wikispaces 12 62 69 74

 

  • Wiki

    • The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock. Updates to the interface were being tested by volunteers and staff.

 

  • Exhibits

    • A Proof of Concept of the image gallery is being developed by contractor Anna Narbutovskih. The prototype pulls images and metadata directly from the museum’s main Catalog and Image Repository. The site is live, but incomplete, so it remains unlisted. Viewings are available upon request.
    • Staff member Tom Trimbath is investigating a variety of timeline software packages as basis for improved wiki pages and future exhibits. The plan is for the timeline to interface with the main Catalog and Image Repository as well.

 

  • LO*OP Center

    • Our Vision Keeper, Liza Loop, has been working for her Northern California neighbors who suffered great losses in the October fires. (https://sonomacounty.recovers.org/) We particularly note the loss of the Hewlett-Packard archives which included early letters between the HP founders. HP archive loss
    • A variety of volunteers helped customize our implementation of Salesforce. The process changes should improve our efficiency by making it easier to track all LO*OP Center and HCLE stakeholders including living and deceased Ed. Tech. pioneers, museum visitors, contributors of money and funding as well as volunteers. Of particular interest is the ability within Salesforce to report on relationships among individuals and institutions.

 

  • Operations

    • HCLE operations were scaled back after Oct. 9, 2017 when the Northern California fires began. LO*OP Center resources and Executive Director’s attention shifted to management of local Sonoma County volunteers working on intermediate and long term recovery activities in the fire region. Long term recovery work will continue for at least 3 years and will be conducted in parallel with HCLE activities. The know-how related to volunteer deployment, database use and inter-agency collaboration garnered through years of work on HCLE has proved highly transportable and very valuable in community disaster relief efforts.
    • The Salesforce database advanced to the point that we’ve begun resolving the entries, establishing relationships between appropriate entries, adding pertinent contact data, and preparing for 2018 fundraising activities.

 

  • Administration

    • Due to emergency work on fire relief, Executive Director, Liza Loop was not able to prepare properly for LO*OP Center’s regularly scheduled annual meeting previously planned for Nov. 5, 2017. It is being rescheduled for late February. Meeting materials will include financial reports and budgets for LO*OP Center, Inc. with project reports for HCLE. These will be available to interested parties on request.
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HCLE Summer 2017 Progress Report

Welcome to the summer quarter of 2017 HCLE progress report. Our Vision Keeper, Liza Loop, has been working for her Northern California neighbors who suffered great losses in the October fires. This has delayed some of our HCLE work.

We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and reddit.) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.6 FTEs, volunteers and outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the winter (July through September) of 2017.

 

Fundraising

  • An appeal to private funders is being prepared.

Catalog

  • Many texts within pdf files in the Catalog are now individually searchable.

Exhibits

  • The Interim Collections Site is available for private viewing.

 

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.

  • Fundraising

    • Various introductory letters were drafted for: Vision Club members, Vision Club candidates, funding organizations, and the general public. The letters will be sent after reviews of the wording, and some process improvements made within Salesforce’s email functions.
  • Collection

    • Scanning and cataloging of the Liza Loop collection continues.
  • Catalog

    • Thanks to James Straus, the text in pdf files is now searchable. This greatly enables the utility of the Catalog for researchers.
  • People/Volunteers

    • A variety of volunteers helped customize our implementation of Salesforce and our wiki.
  • Outreach

Blog posts published:

Social Media Traffic Report

1/1/2014 12/30/2015 12/31/2016 9/30/2017
Facebook 59 104 171 183
Twitter 67 408 493 529
WordPress 18 49 50 53
Wikispaces 12 62 69 74

 

  • Wiki

    • John Ridlehoover began redesigning the wiki home page to improve its look and feel.
    • The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock.
  • Exhibits

    • A template for creating timelines is being evaluated for exhibits.
    • Anna Narbutovskih made significant progress on the Interim Collections Site. The site and the link will be made public after security issues are resolved. Previews available upon request.
    • “About the Project” is being rewritten to better fit the needs of the wiki, the Image Collection Site, and the eventual lobby page.
  • LO*OP Center

    • A variety of volunteers have helped customize our implementation of Salesforce. The process improvements should improve our efficiency by making it easier for new volunteers.
  • Operations

    • Our program plan software account with TeamworkPM has been scaled back to a free account while work concentrates on site redesign and Salesforce customization.
  • Admin

    • A Chromebook was provided for Linda Banks, the leader of our volunteer Salesforce customization team, to enable better communications.

HCLE Spring 2017 Progress Report

Welcome to the spring quarter of 2017 HCLE progress report. We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and now, reddit, too) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.4 FTEs, volunteers and outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the winter (April through June) of 2017.

 

Fundraising

  • News release of Liza Loop’s GeekFest Berlin 2016 presentation

Catalog

  • Improved quantity and quality of images displayed in image gallery tool

Operations

  • Salesforce implementation being customized by a large crew of volunteers

Exhibits

  • Lobby/Proof-of-Concept work continues

 

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.

 

  • Fundraising

Salesforce was used to send out two news releases to followers and potential funders about:

  • a series of videos excerpted from Liza Loop’s presentation at GeekFest Berlin 2016
  • a series of videos excerpted from the Leuphana/LO*OP Center Oral History Workshop held last year at Luneberg, Germany.

These were two of the main steps in our fundraising strategy:

  • Establish an awareness of our background and infrastructure
    • Release Make Vs Buy report – done
    • Release Leuphana/LO*OP oral history videos – done
    • Release Liza Loop’s GeekFest excerpts – done
  • Field responses – in progress
    • If responses don’t generate enough of a response
      • Consider Kickstarter campaign
      • Reinvigorate Vision Club

We also continue to review grant opportunities. The process will benefit from the boilerplate narratives we created for previous applications.

  • Collection

Phil Tymon assisted Liza Loop in the organizing and digitizing of the Collection.

  • Catalog

Anna Narbutovskih created a presentation tool (the Interim Collections Site) that allows images in the Catalog to be readily displayed as a gallery for quicker review and comparison. The intent is to make it easier to check for duplications, and to verify proper import from the official repository, temporary storage locations, and the Catalog. The Interim Site also helps demonstrate the vision of the Virtual Museum. (Link available upon request. It isn’t ready for general public visitors, yet.)

Anna also modified the Catalog Maintenance System to repurpose unused fields.

  • People/Volunteers

VolunteerMatch.org was used to find several candidate Salesforce volunteers. The response has been enthusiastic.

A volunteer offered to investigate license management issues.

  • Outreach

Videos from last year’s Oral History Workshop (LLOHW) were made available online.

Blog posts published:

Social Media Traffic Report

1/1/2014 12/30/2015 12/31/2016 6/30/2017
Facebook 59 104 171 176
Twitter 67 408 493 507
WordPress 18 49 50 52
Wikispaces 12 62 69 70

 

  • Wiki

The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock.

Chuck Morrissey joined the wiki.

  • Exhibits

Anna Narbutovskih is creating a Proof of Concept site (aka Collections Viewer). A few select artifacts will be presented and displayed so visitors, followers, and prospective funders can better understand our goal, a virtual museum of the History of Computing in Learning and Education.

  • Operations

Thanks to a team of volunteers, our Salesforce account is being customized for our needs. One of their primary goals is the establishment of documented processes that will ease and standardize Salesforce processes that will be necessary because of volunteer turnover. The database is being adjusted to reflect the differences between Salesforce and our previous database, CiviCRM. We are training ourselves in its use, and using the news releases as training opportunities.

 

Exploring Designs for Teaching – Liza Loop on Distance, Synchronicity, Control

On June 7th, 2016 we held an Oral History Workshop – How Education Made Computers Personal at Leuphana University (Luneberg, Germany) and online. The workshop was a collaboration between HCLE’s parent organization, LO*OP Center, and Leuphana University to capture more of that history and make it available to modern researchers.

Liza Loop’s presentation, Distance, Synchronicity, Control: Exploring Designs for Teaching About and Through Computers, was inspired by the work of Stuart Cooney, Seymour Papert, and LOGO. Asynchronous teaching is very old. Paintings on cave walls, words in books, and files in computers are all stored instructions that control and pass information to later learners. EdTech has been with us for a long time.

The details of the presentations are too much to relay here; which is why we made a few videos of the presentations available and want to focus on one here.

The nature of the collaboration is a good example of creating a bridge between generations. Liza Loop is the founder of LO*OP Center, the co-creator of the event; and brought the first Apple 1 into schools, opened a public access meeting place for computing, and helped write user’s manuals for the Atari 400 and 800 computers. She lived the history, and knows others who also lived it. The other co-creator was Jerry Herberg, a doctoral candidate at Leuphana working on how computers influenced learning. He is studying the history, and finding others who are also eager to study the history; especially, because they realize the opportunity to meet the pioneers is becoming increasingly difficult. This oral history workshop was yet another step in passing along history. There are many more stories to tell and record and study.

The history of how computing changed education and learning, and how learning and education changed computing is more than the story of hardware introductions and institutional initiatives. As one of the speakers, Lee Felsenstein, observed;

“the 60s – 70s resonated with the counterculture of a search for personal control,
even through technology.”

And, as the motto of the People’s Computer Company stated;

“Computers are mostly used against people instead of for people,
used to control people instead of to free them.
Time to change all that…”

Much of the early EdTech work was dedicated to applying computers and computing to education and learning; and was done by people whose work challenged conventional institutions: innovators, educators, visionaries, and revolutionaries. Some of the work was recorded. But, much of their work wasn’t recorded because it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, undocumented was safer than documented. Now is a good time to refresh our memories to make sure the information is preserved, made available to researchers, and archived.

There is an urgency to record as many of these oral histories as possible. The memories are perishable. The artifacts and documentation are easy for subsequent generations to dismiss without the right perspective. We are endeavoring to record those histories through the workshop, but also through a crowd campaign so many more voices can be heard. Howard, Liza, and Lee are as well known as many other EdTech pioneers; but there are equally useful stories to be heard from elementary school teachers, hobbyists, and self-taught students. If you have a story, pass it along. If you want to read those stories, visit the HCLE wiki (our digital loading dock while we built our virtual museum.) There are more stories to tell and hear. Thanks for participating.

LOOP Center and Educational Technology

Our museum’s story stretches back to 1975 and the founding of LO*OP Center, (Learning Options * Open Portal), a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit corporation chartered:

To improve the quality of people’s lives by integrating cultural diversity and appropriate technology into local communities through educational projects and events.

Thanks to GeekFest Berlin’s 2016 event, we’ve created a series of videos from Liza Loop’s presentation that touch on various aspects of the topic and our organization’s history within it. One of those videos describes LO*OP Center’s history. Familiar names like Bob Albrecht, Dean Brown, and Lee Felsenstein; familiar concepts like timesharing and the mouse; and historic initiatives like PLATO, People’s Computer Company, and the Computer Memory Project all played their roles. One theme that Liza Loop reiterates is that people should be in charge of computers and not the other way around, and as she puts it; “know when to turn the damn thing off.”

The ways that computing changed learning and education have fundamentally shifted our society and civilization. We have found no other institution with a specific focus on formal and nonformal education that is working to preserve that history. If you are aware of any, please pass along the appropriate contact information.

2016 was the year we at HCLE saw an increased interest in the history of computing in learning and education (hence our acronym, HCLE). We are building a virtual museum to collect and catalog born-digital artifacts and digitized versions of physical artifacts to researchers, scholars, educators, and the general public. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on how to improve education and learning, and how best to integrate technology into the process. Very little is being spent studying the decades of similar attempts, which may be why society continues to ask the same questions and make the same mistakes.

The complete presentation is available at: GeekFest’s Youtube channel.

HCLE Excerpts from Geekfest Berlin 2016

Thanks to Geekfest Berlin’s 2016 event, we’ve created a series of videos from our founder Liza Loop’s presentation that touch on various aspects of the topic and our organization’s history within it. We pass this information along as possible aids to include in your communications and as an introduction to our mission and current activities.

The History of Computing in Learning and Education Virtual Museum will focus on how the computer revolution upended centuries old traditions of learning and teaching between 1960 and 1990. As our founder, Liza Loop, recently wrote;

Why is it so hard to find participants for this conversation? I think it’s significant that there is no Museum of Learning and Education. This topic is buried so deeply in every society’s culture that, like the proverbial fish and water, it is difficult to perceive and taboo to question or change.

Pertinent excerpts (links to our YouTube channel):

The complete presentation is available at: Geekfest’s Youtube channel.

2016 was the year we at HCLE saw an increased interest in the history of computing in learning and education (hence our acronym, HCLE). We are building a virtual museum to collect and catalog born-digital artifacts and digitized versions of physical artifacts to researchers, scholars, educators, and the general public. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on how to improve education and learning, and how best to integrate technology into the process. Very little is being spent studying the decades of similar attempts, which may be why society continues to ask the same questions and make the same mistakes.

Our museum’s story stretches back to 1975 and the founding of LO*OP Center, (Learning Options * Open Portal), a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit corporation chartered:

To improve the quality of people’s lives by integrating cultural diversity and appropriate technology into local communities through educational projects and events.

The ways that computing changed learning and education have fundamentally shifted our society and civilization. We have found no other institution with a specific focus on formal and non-formal education that is working to preserve that history. If you are aware of any, please pass along the appropriate contact information.

 

HCLE Summer 2016 Progress Report

HCLE Summer 2016 Progress Report

 

Welcome to the summer quarter of 2016 HCLE report. We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.4 FTEs, several volunteers and many outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the winter (July through September) of 2016.

 

 

Fundraising

  • We updated our strategy to take advantage of our Oral History Workshop and our Make versus Buy process.

Catalog

  • The initial phase of our Make versus Buy process resulted in a trial of Collector Systems and a potential $300K savings.

Collaboration

  • The content of the Oral History Workshop is being edited prior to publication.

Outreach

  • Liza’s presentation at the Geekfest 2016 Berlin conference was well received.

 

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.


A Pioneer has passed

Seymour Papert, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab (then known as the AI Lab). Liza worked with him briefly in the 1980s and taught his childrens programming language, LOGO, in several California schools.

Although Seymour’s work is already well documented, his death highlights the urgency of our museum’s oral history work. Other prominent Pioneers are approaching the end of their lives. Many have not had a chance to provide such a complete legacy. We are working on a virtual exhibit to highlight Seymour’s numerous advances and accomplishments within the field of education and computing. His work is appreciated. His loss is felt.


 

  • Fundraising

    • Strategy

We updated our fundraising strategy to take advantage of our inaugural Oral History workshop (see below), the opportunity to refine our Cal Humanities proposal, and the preliminary results of our Make Versus Buy process (see below). In general, we intend to use feedback from our recent CalHum proposal to update our appeals. The results of the workshop are also an opportunity to demonstrate some of what we hope to preserve and accomplish. The results of the Make Versus Buy process help demonstrate one way we intend to support the creation of the museum.

After we’ve incorporated the feedback from CalHum, we intend to contact Foundations and NGOs with the news of the various updates.

If there are no direct responses, we intend to revisit the Kickstarter campaign, contact key foundation board members for advice, referrals, and hopefully resources.

We’re revisiting our list of foundations and so far have researched candidates to contact from:

      • Kresge
      • Moore
      • Broad
      • Sloan
      • Carnegie
      • Kresge
      • MacArthur

We welcome suggestions about who to contact.

In preparation for the next Kickstarter campaign that will target funding our Proof of Concept, we’ve drafted a series of interview questions from which we’ll create a video interview of Liza. A good video is highly recommended for Kickstarter campaigns, which is why we are focusing on a simple, yet hopefully effective approach.

 


  • Collection

    • social media

Our social media campaign is predominantly for advocacy, collaboration, and fund raising, but it has also been uncovering and collecting digital artifacts, online collections, and oral histories. We conducted a review of the discoveries and compiled them for eventual inclusion in our Catalog.


  • Catalog

    • Catalog Maintenance System – Make Versus Buy

We completed the main selection phase of our Make Versus Buy analysis. After reviewing approximately two dozen candidates, we decided to begin a trial of Collector Systems. Estimated savings are of ~ $300,000 and a shortening of the software timeline of approximately six months. Collector Systems was chosen because it is a cloud-based solution, with relatively low recurring and non-recurring costs, that is somewhat customizable, and that can be readily scaled as needed. The cost of the study was ~$800.

Our preliminary evaluation of the trial is inconclusive because of an interruption in communications, plus a miscommunication about the particular software package we should be using. Liza’s conversations with their CEO enabled a free extended trial until we’ve made our decision. At the close of the quarter, Collector Systems was shifting us to the software package more appropriate for museums, and using our map of the metadata crosswalk to modify their displays to match our needs. They were very receptive to suggested improvements such as including social media in the contact information. A gallery was created with relative ease, but will be probably be replaced after the account is switched to the museum system.

Concurrently, we will continue to use HCLE’s Catalog Maintenance System because it is our established process and we may need to return to it.

One consequence of our review has been an improved documentation of our current digitization, cataloging, and artifact management process. If we choose Collector Systems, we will similarly document the process.

We continue to improve our Catalog Maintenance System by fixing bugs and improving functionality.


  • People/Volunteers

    • Student Project

Liza attended the Sonoma State Internship Faire to recruit interns to work on any of eleven tasks.

Our current team of volunteers and consultants continue to help with specific issues with the Catalog Maintenance System and miscellaneous system administration tasks.

Kimberly Loop has been contracted to edit the videos from the Oral History Workshop held in June.


  • Outreach

    • Events

The primary event was Liza’s participation as a presenter at GeekFest 2016 in Berlin. It was a two day event that “brings together the founding fathers of the early personal computer era and the first Hacker scene and there will be a panel of memories from this era.” Liza was invited partly because of her involvement in the Homebrew Computer Club and the West Coast ComputerFaire. Videos of the presentations are available on YouTube.

We are also preparing a workshop for next year’s Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting (AGM) April 27-29 in Pasadena. The workshop will convey our experience with our Catalog Maintenance System Make Versus Buy process, and will help others modify HCLE’s process to meet their critieria and situation.

1/1/2014 12/29/2014 12/30/2015 9/30/2016
Facebook 59 91 104 137
Twitter 67 271 408 469
WordPress 18 42 49 49
Wikispaces 12 41 62 68

  • wiki

    • The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock. An alternative format was proposed and is undergoing outside review.

We continue to refine the videos from the Oral History Workshop that was conducted in June with Leuphana University in Luneberg, Germany. The goal is to create a series of videos, one for each presentation.

We are also in discussions about possible publications, both informal and academic, based on the event.

No decision has been reached on holding a similar event in 2017, partly because of insufficient funding.

Inspired by the event, we are considering producing a monthly series of Oral History videos and podcasts. Each video would be an interview with an HCLE Pioneer. Questions would be standardized. The interviewee would have the opportunity to present several slides, which is one of the benefits of a video rather than a podcast.


  • Exhibits

    • Thanks to some auspicious networking, we are in discussion to create a demonstration exhibit using virtual reality.

  • Operations

    • There are continuing efforts to improve our processes within CiviCRM and our gallery exhibits.

  • LO*OP Center

    • No significant support efforts were required in the quarter.

  • admin

    • A web site and domain name audit was begun to manage site and file proliferation.

 

Which comes first, the message or the audience?

Comments by Liza Loop, HCLE Founder & Executive Director

Earlier this year HCLE applied for a grant from California Humanities, a state-wide calhum_logoCouncil that gets its support from the US National Endowment for the Humanities. We didn’t get the grant. In the proposed project, entitled Hopes for a Future of Education: 5 California Ed Tech Pioneers Tell Their Stories, five pioneering California educators from the 1970s and 80s will tell us what inspired them to introduce computing into their classrooms, how it changed their teaching and how they hoped this would benefit their students. They will also share their thoughts about the status of ed tech today.

Since the deadline for another round of funding is approaching I asked CalHUM for feedback on our previous proposal. The program officer sent me the review sheet from one of the reviewers saying that the other reviewer basically agreed – their comments were more direct about the limited audience appeal demonstrated.

Why is it so hard to find participants for this conversation? I think it’s significant that there is no Museum of Learning and Education. This topic is buried so deeply in every society’s culture that, like the proverbial fish and water, it is difficult to perceive and taboo to question or change. During my 15 year association with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education I saw almost no initiatives to explore paradigm shifts in teaching or learning (although there probably were some in other departments). “Educational Reform”, a catch phrase from the period (1960-1990), meant tinkering around the edges of conventional, class-room based, teacher-centered educational practice. My hypothesis that schools and class rooms may not be the best technologies to support learning was summarily dismissed. And that was the response in a community of practice dedicated to education.

varveltrojanhorse
Source

In the larger (developed) world remarkably few people enjoy or thrive in schools but even fewer are interested in working to invent something better. Instead we continue to export this institution throughout the lesser developed world and systematically plow under all vestiges of indigenous ways of cultural transmission. In 1985, I and my colleagues in educational computing saw the personal computer as the Trojan Horse that would allow us to break down the walls of the conventional classroom and conquer the status quo. I thought the audience for this message would grow.

And the audience has grown but it has split into two very different channels. The current HCLE  crowd is  an audience of rebels. Many of them are pioneers in different aspects of the electronics industry. They are the ones who were bored in school and were also able to access external sources of teaching so that they could learn to create new devices and functions. They have become the world’s intellectual and economic elite. They understand that there is something wrong with our educational system (and by “our” I mean those of India, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and others, not just the US). Unfortunately, few of them have turned their prodigious analytical skills to the problem of building better scaffolding to support learning in the broad “normal” population of the planet. Some don’t understand that, by definition, most people have an IQ of 105 or less and do not fall in the upper reaches of the bell-shaped curve as they do. IQ was designed to predict capacity to learn and excel in school-like settings. If we are to have an “educated” world population we cannot teach only the best and brightest. We have to support prodigious learning for everybody. Computing offers a promise of delivering prerecorded, interactive teaching materials to learners around the world — all learners, not just the very bright. Some HCLE supporters are so busy succeeding in their chosen fields they don’t realize how critical our educational failure is to sustaining their way of life.

The audience in the second and larger channel is engaged in a contemporary debate about the effectiveness of electronic devices in the classroom. For the most part they are unaware that their concerns and experiences have been under discussion for over forty years so they keep repeating the same old arguments. They are willing to consider “flipping” the classroom but not eliminating it as the principle way of organizing students.

It is important for our potential funders to understand that the current size and composition of the HCLE audience is the very reason they can benefit from supporting us. The people we can reach without additional funding are those who can catch the message without extensive curation and professional-level presentation techniques. But progressive social change is not a popularity contest. It’s a search for meaning and likely to be unpopular in it’s early stages. That’s why it needs partnerships with government agencies and philanthropic organizations. If it was popular Jane or John Q. Public would just buy it and we would not be asking for support.

Our Inaugural EdTech Oral History Workshop

A first workshop

On June 7th we held our inaugural Oral History Workshop – How Education Made Computers Personal at Leuphana University (Luneberg, Germany) and online. The workshop was a collaboration between HCLE’s parent organization, LO*OP Center, and Leuphana University to capture more of that history and make it available to modern researchers.

LLOHW image from Twitter

The history of how computing changed education and learning, and how learning and education changed computing is more than the story of hardware introductions and institutional initiatives. As one of the speakers, Lee Felsenstein, observed;

“the 60s – 70s resonated with the counterculture of a search for personal control, even through technology.”

And, as the motto of the People’s Computer Company stated;

“Computers are mostly used against people instead of for people, used to control people instead of to free them. Time to change all that…”

Our first workshop expanded on that theme with the influence of Montessori logic, applied conviviality, designs for teaching about and through computers, and pedagogy.

The four main presentations were:

  • Jeremias Herberg: IT Became Personal – Montessori Logics in 1970s Computer Hobby Groups
  • Lee Felsenstein: The Tom Swift Terminal and Applied Conviviality
  • Liza Loop: Distance, Synchronicity, Control: Exploring Designs for Teaching About and Through Computers
  • Howard Rheingold: Counterculture + Social Media = Edupunk Pedagogy


(June 2017 update: select videos available)

The workshop was well attended, considering that it was as much a test as it was a research opportunity. A few dozen people attended at Leuphana and online. Scheduling had to accommodate a 9 hour difference in time zones. It was impressive to see how many people were willing to stay up late or get up early to participate. As a reflection on the history of computing, such an event would have been prohibitively expensive and unpredictable decades ago. Now, the system we used was new, familiar to many even with a mix of languages, and was effectively a test for Leuphana. It worked more than well enough for us.

For about 5 hours, the attendees listened and participated in a discussion of the objective and subjective aspects of early EdTech. Dates and data are more readily researched; but oral history captures the subjective aspects like the motivations and circumstances that led to decisions, actions, and also abandoned ideas. Anecdotes may conflict, but they also reveal the various perspectives that existed and influenced those times and these times. Even though Jeremias didn’t work in the ’60s and ’70s, he was able to put the workshop in perspective thanks to his research. Lee, Liza, and Howard were active in that era; their presentations provided insights and inspired questions as well as possible further investigations by researchers.

Education made computers personal

Much of the early EdTech work which was dedicated to applying computers and computing to education and learning was done by people whose work challenged conventional institutions: innovators, educators, visionaries, and revolutionaries. Some of this work was recorded. Much of it was never written down in the rush to turn new ideas into programs, lessons and new ways of teaching or learning. The workshop helped to refresh our memories, to ensure  that the information is preserved, to archive it and to make it available to researchers.

The nature of the collaboration between Liza and Jeremias is a good example of creating a bridge between generations. Liza Loop is the founder of LO*OP Center and the co-creator of the event. In the early days of personal computing, she brought the first Apple 1 into schools, opened a public access meeting place for computing, and helped write the user’s manuals for the Atari 400 and 800 computers. She lived the history, and knows others who also lived it. Jeremias Herberg is a post-doctoral fellow with the Complexity or Control Project at Leuphana University and works on how computers influenced learning. A sociologist, he is studying the history of science and technology, and finding others who are active in this field. These young scholars realize that the pioneers from a pivotal era are reaching the end of their lives and opportunities to meet them and capture their stories are becoming increasingly rare. This inaugural oral history workshop was yet another step in passing along history. There are many more stories to tell, record and study.

Lee was involved in the creation of several countercultural movements and in computers, including the Free Speech Movement where he created the famous “Community Memory”. In 1975, Lee co-founded the Homebrew Computer Club, where many early Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including Apple inventor, Steve Wozniak, used to gather to swap stories and expertise. As an engineer, Lee created the Sol-20, and early desk-top computer and the Osborne 1, one of the first portable computers. Choosing from a breadth of influences, he chose to talk about the Tom Swift Terminal, a pre-PC device that would have enabled personal access to remote computers and could also be expanded into a quite capable stand-alone machine. As for how “Education Made Computers Personal”, he noted that the 60s – 70s resonated with the counterculture of a search for personal control, even through technology.

Howard was one of the first writers to point out the educational values of digital networks. He was involved in the WELL, a “computer conferencing” system and, drawing from that experience, he coined the term “virtual community”. As he pointed out, many of the issues encountered in those early days still remain after decades of development, partly because;

“Technologies, including EdTech, are changing faster than society.”

Computers and computing have changed society and the way we teach and learn; but, fundamentally, many organizations and institutions continue to struggle to adapt.

Because the details of the presentations are too much to relay here we are working at making the presentations and the video available. (You can follow some of the proceedings via #LLOHW on Twitter.) When they are available we’ll post them this blog and publish announcements on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

One workshop is not enough. There is an urgency to record as many of these oral histories as possible. The memories are perishable. The artifacts and documentation are at risk of being dismissed or overlooked by subsequent generations unless they are combined with contemporary, interpretive commentary. We are endeavoring to record those histories through the workshop and also through a crowd campaign so many more voices can be heard. Howard, Liza, and Lee are already well known through their writing as are many other EdTech pioneers. However, equally useful stories from elementary school teachers, hobbyists, and self-taught students, have yet to be captured. If you have a story, pass it along. If you want to read those stories, visit the HCLE wiki (our digital loading dock while we build our virtual museum). Keep next year’s workshop in mind and let us know if you would like to be kept abreast of our plans. There are more stories to tell and hear.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen.