Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grade 1's and 2's messing with their faces

Warning, I may have to clean this post up a bit after the fact. I am in a rush to get my ideas down.

This is a follow up post to a previous article where I was going to teach basic file management to grade 1 and 2 students. I had taken pics with a webcam of each kid I used the webcam because it a pre-set small photo which is useful when working with MS Paint, and it is already attached to the computer. So far so good. I kept a copy of each kid's picture, in case something went wrong.

Here is the list of the skills kids were going to open up MS Paint.
  1. They were going to use "File-> open" and then chose their folder from a list of locations. 
  2. They then had to use the file type drop down box to say search for "all files", because MS Paint by default is looking for *.bmp files (Bitmap files which is what you make with MS Paint). 
  3. They were then going to choose their file, open it, and then use the tools to paint a 'disguise' on themselves. 
  4. Then ...wait for it...they were going to use "save as" instead of save to create versions of their picture, and save their original photo. They could then repeat the step of "file -> open" to open up their original picture and create a new disguise. 

I thought I was teaching kids the difference between "open", "save", and "save as". How did the lesson go?

Very nearly,

just about,

almost a success.

It seems that it was all the steps in between opening a file, saving a file, etc. that created the steep learning curve. About 5 kids in the class of 22 got the lesson well. This provided some real insight, and now I am creating a course for adults and children on BFM - basic file management. People get lost when they have to not only know how to use menus, but know how to use drop down menus to figure out their file types, and navigate their directory tree (C: is the hard drive with everything on it, E: is your flash drive that, D: might be a different drive).

      I would love to see programs that do less. Programs that cost less, and only do a few tasks well. Put these kinds of programs in schools, and teach the basics of file management to kids. Adults need the same thing. Fewer variables in programs when they are learning how to use computers.  Its really hard learning how to navigate a directory tree, learn file types, learn how folders work, and learn the different items in each menu, all at the same time.  No wonder so many teachers I know are not very enthused about getting started learning to use computers.     

     I have a question for anyone reading this. In addition to explaining some of the items in menus, and explaining how to browse for a file, what are some other skills people need to have in order to just manage their files, and get around the computer finding what they want, when they want it?

      A follow up question would be, how can I create a set of lessons that will teach the skills of open, save, save as, cut, copy and paste, and browsing for files that people can use to teach themselves?  If they have to go to special classes to learn, then only the most motivated individuals will learn.  We have to make learning the basics of file management something that is easy for teachers to do at their own pace.  Success must be at the end of each step. 

     In the meantime, I think the grade 1's and 2's are going to teach me something they have learned in school this year using the online comic strip creating website I mentioned in a previous post. 

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