Friday, March 02, 2007

Finally! Someone agrees with me re: Teaching Computers

Jakob Nielsen, in his Feb. 26th 2007 Alertbox article, deals with teaching computer skills. I have said for years that we don't need to be teaching buttons in computer classes - we need to be teaching processes. "Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can't be learned from reading a manual." When I taught high school computers, my big frustration with all the texts we looked at was that they ALL were focused on buttons - click here to do this, click there to do that. So what were the kids to do when the user interface changed (as it ALWAYS does!)? Better to teach them how to think, how to learn, and the overall paradigms behind the basic comptuer tasks - word processing, spreadsheets, email, search, presentation design. nielsen adds one I hadn't though of - basic debugging. His point is that spreadsheets have errors, and you need to know how to go about figuring out how to fix them. I agree. The original article is here. Definitely worth reading!