Tag Archives: LOOP Center

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.
Advertisements

Peoples Computer Company In Our Catalog

Will personal computers raise or lower educational standards? Magazines from the mid-seventies asked that question before most people knew the term “personal computer” or had access to the internet. Reading those forty year old articles is a good way to explore whether we’ve made progress, or are simply asking the same questions. Even though the hardware used in schools now includes tablets and phones as well as desk top computers, and they’re all connected into a vast network, it’s not clear that students are performing better academically.

Teachers, students, business people and hobbyists all relied on a growing number of magazines to educate themselves about electronics, computer software and the myriad ways computers could be used. We’re protecting such publications, particularly ones that reflect the name of our parent nonprofit organization, LO*OP Center, Inc. One example (item #1018 in our catalog) is People’s Computer Magazine (volume 7 number 3) from November-December 1978.  It’s useful in researching questions about the impact of computing on learning and can lead to a wide variety of other research topics. The 1970s was a dynamic era that laid the groundwork for our still dynamically-changing present.

Screenshot 2017-11-17 at 10.40.55

People learned about computers and computing from other people, hence, the appropriately named magazine “People’s Computer Company” was started in 1972. By the time our example issue was printed, the name had become People’s Computers and was just about to become Recreational Computing. Two years later, it became part of Compute! Magazine, which continued to publish until 1994. Those 22 years represent the dramatic changes in technology, the way we use it, and the nature of the publishing industry.

Browsing through the articles reveals familiar products mixed with now-forgotten topics, products, and ventures.

Speak & Spell

Speak & Spell was introduced as an educational toy that revolutionized educational electronics by using solid state components. Solid state made it lighter, simpler, easier to use, and more likely to survive a young child’s environment. The device used a voice synthesizer that prompted the child to spell the word they heard. This was far simpler than earlier games that required media like cassette tapes. It continued to sell until 1992.

Radio Shack

Radio Shack began in 1921 to provide supplies to electronics hobbyists and audiophiles. LO*OP Center founder, Liza Loop, remembers visiting this first Radio Shack retail store with her father in the 1940s. In 1963, Tandy Corporation, a chain of leather craft stores bought Radio Shack with its 9 electronics stores and began a transition from leather to electronics. It commissioned the design of the TRS-80, one of the most popular early personal computers. Liza took a job as a computer sales person at the Radio Shack store in Santa Rosa, California so she could buy computers at the employee price and resell them at her cost to local schools. Schools at the time were not accustomed to paying retail and Radio Shack refused to offer an educational discount. Liza’s strategy made it possible to get many more computers into local classrooms. Radio Shack has finally faded, but in 1978 they were working to stay in the forefront opening fifty computer centers for sales, service, education, and general community support.

Marin Computer Center

On a more local level, the Marin Computer Center celebrated being open for a year in this issue of People’s Computers. Similar to our parent organization (LO*OP Center) David and Annie Fox established a non-profit to “bring the wonders of advanced technology to the people.” That sentiment was echoed in People’s Computer Company motto;

Computers are mostly
used against people instead of for people
used to control people instead of to free them
time to change all that –

we need a . . .
People’s

Computer
Company

 

Early EdTech

Before hashtags like #EdTech, academics were considering whether “personal computers raise or lower educational standards.” The magazine didn’t just mention the topic. It included an article written by Howard Peele called, The Case for APL in Education. APL was the acronym for A Programming Language, a language that was already 18 years old, and that continues to be used. The question continues, and Howard Peele continues to teach at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

IBM Selectric

In 1978, typewriters were more common and less expensive than home printers, which is why hobbyists were interested in modifying their typewriters. APL, the language described in Howard Peele’s article was influenced by the available character set on the popular electric typewriter, the IBM Selectric.

Do It Yourself

We may say DIY now, but in 1978 it was assumed that most computer users would customize or create their own hardware and software.

The issue provides information for hardware.

  • Turning an IBM Selectric into a printer
  • Building a computer from a MICROSTAR circuit board ($1,270 in 1978 equivalent to $3380 in 2017)
  • An RCA board that adds color to a monitor
  • An RCA board that adds a music synthesizer

More space was devoted to free software. The original media for installing programs was a printed copy of the program that was typed in by hand. Very open source.

  • Starwars Hodge
  • Runequest
  • TRS-80 Frogs
  • PHANTNUM
  • HANGMAN
  • REVERSE
  • Distance and Error Checking coders

In the 64 pages is much more information revealing the capabilities and the culture of the time. The graphics and the layout demonstrate an era when work was done by hand. People’s Computers represents a transition from manual to technological, part of the transition when culture went from being based on paper to being based on electrons.

Screenshot 2017-11-18 at 10.35.58There are also some fun reasons to browse the magazine. Bob Albrecht, founder of People’s Computer Company,  had long used a dragon for a mascot, which led to some playful graphics. There was also a long-running cartoon series called FORTRAN MAN. In this episode, FM fights the “despotic Glitchmaster.”

In a demonstration of cooperation instead of competition, the back page is devoted to yet another publication that had a long history, Dr. Dobb’s Journal – Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia, which only ceased publication in 2014.

Preserving such documents for researchers and the curious is why we’re creating our virtual museum. Even one edition, like this one, can provide a cornerstone from which to build broader research projects and histories. Tell us where it leads you.

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.

Computer Literacy is not just coding

by Liza Loop

Does everyone need to know how to program a computer? This is a question we have been addressing at LO*OP Center since its inception in 1975. My answer has always been a strong “yes and no”. Yes, everyone needs to understand enough about how a computer is programmed to believe the old saying “garbage in – garbage out”. The easiest way to get this knowledge into an individual’s belief system is to give him or her the experience of writing a very simple program that puts a piece of patently inaccurate information into a computer and delivers it to anyone who look at the screen or printout. Will everyone need to write computer programs to hold down a job, raise a family or participate in civic life? No. In many cases writing code is a low-level skill within the computer industry. Today there may be strong demand for coders but in the long run coding is a dead-end skill if not accompanied by design, analytical and/or management abilities.

The computer literacy debate continues to rage even after more than 40 years. A recent article is Education week, “Teaching Computer Science Is Great, But It’s Not Enough”

It recapitulates my own point of view that our emphasis should be on understanding the impact of computing on society. The proponents of the international movement, Hour of Code, emphasize learning to program as the most important place to start. I worry that participants in this project who decide that coding is not their cup of tea will lose all interest in the field before they get the real message:

we must teach children not just to think about how to design and program a particular technology, but to consider its potential role and impact on society – Sullivan & Denner

For a contemporary look at the Computer Literacy Debate you might want to follow Computing Education Blog by computer science professor Mark Guzdial. For an historical perspective check out HCLE’s  “exhibit-in-progress”. And don’t hesitate to add your own point of view here or on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

 

Exploring Designs for Teaching – Lee Felsenstein on Community Memory, Free Speech and Computing

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.

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, 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…”

Lee Felsenstein (host of the Homebrew Computer Club and the designer of the Osbourne-1) made a presentation about the Tom Swift Terminal, Applied Conviviality, and…

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. The presenters 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.

 

For more of our videos from this and other presentations, visit our YouTube channel (HCLEMuseum).

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.

Moving Electrons Instead of People

“You can’t learn to swim on a computer.” Liza Loop

Distance learning was greatly enabled by the technology that made it easier to move electrons than people. Originally, that meant people in remote locations could access far more educational resources. Now, everyone is expected to engage in distance learning whether from a classroom or to understand a smartphone’s upgrade. It is almost seen as a panacea by some. In this presentation made at GeekFest Berlin 2016, Liza points out that;

“There are many things we can’t learn by this storyboarded computer medium, but there are many things that we can.”

and one persistent caution,

“What we have failed to do in the 40 years I’ve been working in this field is to really look at our education goals.”

Moving electrons instead of people is a powerful education and learning tool, but it has its limitations, too. Here’s an excerpt from her presentation;


Geekfest Berlin 2016 – Liza Loop – Moving Electrons

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. We pass this information along as possible aids to include in your communications and as an introduction to our mission and current activities.

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 nonformal education that is working to preserve that history. If you are aware of any, please pass along the appropriate contact information.

Computer Literacy – Then and Now

As our Founder, Liza Loop, said, people “need to know enough not to be intimidated” by computers; and “The computer is not the gatekeeper, there’s a person that’s responsible. Don’t hide behind the machine.” Computer literacy has been a public issue since computers became personal, and even a bit before that. Whether it is dealing with a Help Desk worker who is bound to following an algorithmic script, or whether it is any of us trying to filter out news stories, computer literacy has become a vital skill in today’s world. Liza describes computer literacy then and now in this excerpt from her presentation at:

Geekfest Berlin 2016 – Liza Loop – Computer Literacy

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. We pass this information along as possible aids to include in your communications and as an introduction to our mission and current activities.

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 nonformal education that is working to preserve that history. If you are aware of any, please pass along the appropriate contact information.

Distance Learning – Then and Now

Distance Learning isn’t new. Start with the clay tablets, the Greeks, mail order classes, and eventually work through history to examples like Liza Loop’s LO*OP Center where people who were interested in learning could remotely login to mainframes and explore programming. Distance Learning was enabled by our ability to “Store it Forward” in things like books and now digital media. Storing information forward for future generations is a basis for civilization’s advance. Some of today’s issues were questions and concerns then; and that history may hold answers for now. Now, partly because of the pervasiveness of computers, everyone’s a teacher and everyone’s a learner. Students sitting in classrooms already know there’s a lot to learn beyond four classroom walls.

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. We pass this information along as possible aids to include in your communications and as an introduction to our mission and current activities.

Geekfest Berlin 2016 – Liza Loop – Distance Learning – https://youtu.be/eVSEDK_MBKw

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 nonformal education that is working to preserve that history. If you are aware of any, please pass along the appropriate contact information.