by Marie A. Christensen Karr

Karr's Axiom #1
(The Nintendo

"Every child, given an educational software program, will,
without parent/
teacher supervision, find the
least educational aspect of that program, and stay there,
ad infinitum."


      The lines in the sand are being drawn - sometimes politically, sometimes economically, sometimes irrationally. Where do you stand? And how do you know which side to pick, where to start?
      With no little humility, we have seen this axiom played out time and time again, both in our Learning Lab, in homes and in schools. And it has changed our teaching strategies, as well as our approach to using computers for learning. In some ways, its a great big DUH! Kids need guidance. We can't give them computers and software and expect them to learn. Essentially, it's like handing a child a book and commanding, "Here, learn to read." It won't happen, and we shouldn't be stunned if it doesn't work.
      Children need teachers and parents - and often, the two are synonymous - to bring the whole learning process together. Computers are just a new kind of worksheet or blackboard or overhead projector...a tool; and tools need human hands and minds to make them work. And given that the future will
involve people with computer-driven applications as a basic condition of life, we and our children need to be prepared. But any tool in the wrong hands can be destructive, so be aware.
      As good as educational software has become (and it's getting better every year), it will never replace the adult who finds the 'teachable moments' in a story or game. And it will never replace the interaction between adult human and child human, when delight or surprise bubbles to the surface in recognition and triumph.
The computer can't 'high five,' and even if it could, the emotional impact would be inconsequential; so, too, the educational benefits.


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ComputED Learning Lab
2611 Highway 101
Cardiff, CA 92007
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