Computer Applications: A Dynamic Medium for Creative Thought by Alan Kay (1972)

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a certain English as a part of the
seminar all participants men in plenary sessions on each of six papers computer
applications a dynamic medium for creative thought by Alan Kay was a six
paper discussed my name is Tom Barrett
from the University of Wisconsin and our final paper of the day is entitled a
dynamic medium for creative thought by dr. ellen cave was on my far left and we
have a dynamic duo of discussants so
you're slated dr. Yap Toolman from Indiana University
and dr. Peter Rosenbaum from Columbia University our format is a little
different because Alan is going to first
of all give us a slide presentation of his paper and so we'll begin with that
and come back to the discussion okay I'm
going to try and just rush right through I made a few notes here in the interest
of brevity first I have a few disclaimers first one is that our lab is
Xerox is not a product development lab so anything that I may talk about should
not be construed as future plans of Xerox and probably it is not it's hard
the kinds of things that that we are
doing there are two are just sort of what you might call freewheeling
investigation the lab itself is set up a sort of a Bell Labs kind of place the
people in our group aren't educators or psychologists most of us are the
backgrounds are essentially former artists musicians writers and computer
scientists and usually people fall into several of those categories also on the
paper what you're looking at is a first
draft it happens to be the fifth paper I wrote for this conference the first four
used English and it seems to be a bad way of trying to communicate with with
people who know English a lot better than I do so I fit of desperation I got
40 packs of Polaroid film and started wailing away at our equipment
this paper is essentially a picture show of the kinds of things that we're doing
the I would hope that you don't copy it
if you possibly can avoid it I will send
you a better one main reason is that I forgot to put in the references to
Winnie the Pooh all kinds of possible copyright violations and everything else
since it is uses examples in there okay
and we started this thing off we were
very influenced by Piaget more papper Dewey even looking at active
ways for trying to help kids to learn how to thank her to perfect their own
thinking skills and the Pepper Thien
kinds of things as most you know are to
try and give a child and environment that's active like him it's an
environment in which thinking and creativity are the natural kinds of
things that are done I disagreed with Jeremy Finn this morning when he said
the bad way to learn French is to get put in front and get put in a French
beach that's a great way to learn French because you have to do you have real
rewards for doing transactions in that kind of environment and the fact that
kids don't learn mathematics who are creative thinking skills any better than
they learn French in this country may mean that we're just not giving an environment for that anyway that's the
capper idea and the question is what
kind of environment can you come up with so we thought okay tool will create a
will make a tool to do all of this and after a while we realized that it really
wasn't a tool in fact the ideas surrounding tools are wrong because there are things that stir existing
media okay what you really want is to if you
have something that it's basically a new medium it's like paper now okay then you
can create tools that stir that particular medium we don't understand
what this medium is but I like to try and give you an idea of some of the
things that we've done and some of the plans that we have and just sort of let
it go with that I can say that the stuff
I'm going to show you is science fiction right now but no new technologies have
to be invented in order to make this come about I believe it's not more than
two years off okay and when I mean two
years off I mean the ability to have a device that will sell low sell for a
price that's almost every sell for the
same kinds of prices that color TVs do okay and perhaps lower so let's sort of
see what it is you've already got that on we have the lights down and I'll grab
the clicker if I don't very much so you're okay
well this is an existing device it's the
thing that you would hewlett-packard calls a pocket electronic slide rule and
it turns out that the way they decided to make it is so that would fit into
Bill Hewitt's shirt pocket that was the way it was was designed it had to do
everything the slide rule would do except to ten places and they actually
spent almost an extra year on this thing
to keep it to those size specifications it has batteries and it can indeed be
used on the glut on the grass the power that it has and the size portability and
everything else make it something completely different so different that Hewlett Packard expects to sell three
million of these in the next five years people who would never buy a calculating
machine of any kind buy these things for $400 okay so quantitative changes if you
make them large enough our qualitative changes here's our conception of this
gadget we call Dynabook also designed to be used in the grass we don't have to
worry about what's in it it suffice it
to say that we designed the outside package first we wanted to be no larger
than a standard notebook it's about nine by twelve and we tried to make the
specifications for stylistic ones ones that had to do with the kind of quality
that we wanted with the idea that we would try to beat the technologies
needed to be beaten totally in the submission in order to fulfill the
insides of the gadget and that in fact is what we are doing so the idea here it
whoops the idea here is that it's
supposed to be something like active paper
it's not supposed to be worse than paper in any reasonable way it's one of the
problems with modern technologies you always come up with something worse we
wanted to be able to handle things dynamically rather than statically the
way paper did but it at no at no real loss and quality so basically has a
display in which you can see things you can think of as being like a television display means for entering things that
has a you can barely see it a way for entering drawings and it has a removable
hunk of storage that will store one 500 page book okay or million characters
runs on batteries and you can carry it with its portable by my definition of
portability okay which is that you can carry something else too
well tell you what you can do with it in
order to check out a few things we decided to simulate it using current
computer technology so everything you're going to see from now on and every all the pictures in the paper are actual
photographs taken at our lab okay the simulation is it in some sense a real
simulation okay here's an example of the
kind of display for text now because
this is an active medium we can have any font that we want in text files for
instance we have almost all of this book typed in we can look at this piece of
text using any font the we that we wish and fonts of course have a great
qualitative effect on the way people
read things the way they think about them it's a well-known kind of thing
here's exactly the same text seen in Bodoni font okay and the change from one
font to another is as fast as clicking this slide here's another one
okay here's here's one with italics
now we the gadget that we built can
display in color but the resolution is so poor on color monitors that you get a
poor effect so we haven't done anything further in color since then and even
more because it's an active medium the user can design his own way of looking
at his information okay here I was
dissatisfied with looking at Winnie the
Pooh as a matter of fact in that other font and here I'm just drawing in the
outline of a font character and here is what it will look like actual size and
here is the the agony of the ecstasy
shown in that font designed in about
takes about an hour and a half to do on that tricky Winnie the Pooh another
thing we're interested in doing is allowing people to substitute iconic
reference for a text reference for instance substituting a picture of the
bear for the for the word bear and some bees for the word bees now this the the
idea here is that this is a pliable kind
of medium it has the if if you want to
contrast it to paper it's dynamically erasable much better than paper is
okay you can have anything I hear again
is the thing that we are experimenting with autistic kids or semi autistic kids
is the idea of personalizing your own fine so here's the very same text of
Winnie the Pooh in my handwriting okay
the idea is it's yours it's it's hot it's a hot medium rather than a cold one
another thing we were interested in doing is some non standard fonts these are described in the paper this is the
pitman ITA kind of thing okay again this
was not built into the device it was something that we decided to do quite a
while after the device has been built but it's a very slippery kind of gadget
because you can make it do a lot of things there's seeing a lot of the
information we're using very small characters
but of course you want to be able to draw one of the principles we had in
designing this thing was that you should be able to have a balance again it's a
qualitative thing you want to have a balance between art and skill it's a
thing I alluded to this morning this is just religious doctrine but you want to
be able to manipulate things to feel them you want to be able to do skill
kinds of things you would like to be able to manipulate things directly you'd
also like to manipulate them indirectly here I'm directly drawing in and editing
I'm seeing it in two different sizes here okay now this is a picture editor
may have heard of text editors this is a picture editor which I can sketch into
Spacewar okay space war is a game that
you would like to animate you draw your own spaceships and make them move around there's a section in the paper that
prescribes that another thing we tried was a painting program whoops I promise
I would never would not say the word program I managed to write this paper without saying either the word computer
or program because if computers people think of as big card gobbling Fortran
executing kinds of monsters whereas this is a completely different kind of thing
here's a painting program again that the screen is completely parametric any area
on the screen can be used as a paint pot here we supplied some and some brushes
of different sizes okay
here's a tone painting seen as texture in the large size and tone in the small
size it was done by picking up using the
stylus picking up a brush size like that
dipping it into the paint pot and layering it on and again it's positive
editing you can go in and change this stuff is laid in over the top
okay here you get wallpaper if you use a
non-standard pattern you draw a pattern and pick it up as paint and you can reproduce it all over the screen
this happens to be an executive vice president of Xerox he was on the critical path of this machine we have
done the sketching is very easy to do because again you can positively erase
the racing isn't negative you were race by laying new stuff over and here's one
that works real well Cookie Monster from Sesame Street and we
have this fellow taking actually taking a chomp out of the see now but this one
works well of course because he's mostly texture anyway okay now this is not done
at our lab but these are again computer
active information manipulator generated pictures they're what you would see if
you happen to look at this scene with a TV camera except there is no TV cameras
and there is no scene what exists is a semantic model of what the scene is
constructed of the computer simply produces the million dots in color
necessary because it's a three-dimensional scene you can look at it from another point of view instantly
okay back to this little gadget how am i doing on time I don't want to okay right
what do you do with it well the idea is
you want to do as much as you possibly can uh there are better examples in the book I'll just give you an idea what
what things look like when you get on when you step up to the to this your
little Dynabook what you have is essentially a dynamic dictionary of all
of the things that you ever wanted to have place stored by their name so
here's something called before here's something called blocks count down count
up draw draw a man yeah so on they can
be either text like a story you're working on a poem which you can
dynamically edit as described in the paper or they can be a set of actions
with which the machine itself will evaluate in fact the think that's almost
the end for instance this particular thing which
particular definition which is called spaceship is a series of actions that
will animate one of those one of those spaceships okay if that will cause it to
fly around the screen under your own control now the interesting thing with
kids see if I can get to the end here yes the interesting thing about kids is
that they take to this like crazy they glom onto it
like TV and in the five years or so of
studies that have been done by people getting kids to cause a information
manipulator like this do things for them have been quite remarkable they start
off tap it for instance starts off with a turtle it's a device that sits on the
floor and has a magic marker that can drop out of its rear end if you say forward 10 the turtle clanks forward 10
notches if the pen happens to be down it leaves a track so if you say right 90 it
turns right 90 you say forward 10 it goes forward 10 more notches do it a few
more times and you have a square okay the important thing is that the kid has
done something that he wants to do but in doing it he has exercised the one of the most
important things I think in human thinking and that is the exercise of
strategies and looking ahead planning taking something that's complicated and
knocking it down into simpler things and so on so the idea behind this kind of I
hesitate to call it education because it really isn't it's not instruction either what you're providing the kid is an
environment which you can do things that appeal to him well what she's looked learning the
kinds of things you would like him to learn another thing that's done give you
an idea is this is basically a structural approach for people who are
interested in in structure the other
thing I mentioned in the other room that's puzzled people for a long time
and that is if skinner was right why is it that when a kid is reading a story
and he comes to you and asks you what a word means why doesn't why does he not
come back after your telling what the word means almost never will a kid come back okay
he's ready to he's ready to learn it the story has produced a structure in which
he can fit that meaning the other hand if you try and teach him that word out
of context you have to run him through the old Skinner box to get the S shape
learning curve on that word he doesn't have any reason to learn it he doesn't
have any structure to fit fit it in too so one of the things that we're doing is
taking two very interesting structures actually three that is the idea of
writing these actions the structure of pictures and music and combining them
all together now music and and the language which is used to express the
series of actions have the same structure okay and a musical score is a
set of instructions for a human interpreter it has all of this yesterday
to use the word computer again but it has all of the attributes of a computer program that's what it is
except it's interpreted by a human they have different names for the leaves on
the trees but they have the same structure and what the kids are learning
here is to structure things without
worrying about what the surface is this is why is arguing against the template thing the template thing may appear if
you don't do something else but what you
get here is sort of a Renaissance man effect the kid is gets used to -
ignoring he's making up his own names for things all along what he's doing is
ignoring syntactic structure and he's going deep into the way things the way
things are taking them apart trying to fit them into a semantic kind of
relationship and of course nobody knows whether this works or not I'm not what
we're doing is we are not solving anybody's problem here okay because we
don't know what the problem is what we're doing is simply
moving on is intuitively and quickly as we possibly can to see whether this is
whether these ideas are actually real or
whether they're just another figment of people are people's imagination who are
interested in helping kids I'll just say one more thing and that is that we are
building in our 12 non-portable machines
but which have exactly the same functions as the things that I've shown you and we'll be going out with kids
next year so we'll find out this machine
that I talked about is still about two years away so very good let's hear from
our discussions and would you like to begin the athleisure in the year 2000 if
there are any graduate students left and they have a historical sense they
probably go back over the notes of this
meeting and some of them might say that's funny on the day the diner book
was introduced to the NCTE there always were also people concerned
with such issues as responsive to literature and philosophy of Education
and to their minds that might be quite difficult to tie together an immediate
application of the Dynabook as I was viewing the slides and that's about as
much information as I have about it that's as much you do seems to be that
football coaches could cut down on preseason injuries drastically by not
playing a war game but the football game I can see application we could program
all kinds of defensive offensive moves and find out how bad the tackle would be
and what stress on the bones might occur if the tackle was made away it was okay
this is an interesting thing
I'm not valuing it my descriptor I think
and I honestly don't know where it will
take us I think that it is true that miniaturization as is
shown by those calculators though it may not make true the statement that
increased quantity will a decrease but what was it against quality with the
Senate many and many many kinds of
things and then create a large enough quantitative change introduces a qualitative change you know that's you
can cripple about that but I definitely believe that if computer applications in
instruction and I'm limiting myself to that now rather than go to the domain of
environments in a more general census Alan has you is it if computer
applications are going to be any reality at all we must get rid of a great deal
of logistical problems CIA CAI has had a
long history and an unfortunate one in a
sense and that goes for both our
beautiful systems the fact that Alan is able to simulate the functions that his
Dynabook will contain does mean that we
do have these capabilities one of the system that is not much publicized yet
the plate of for in Illinois is very advanced as a great deal of flexibility
as opposed to other systems that we know of and yet getting students to get in
contact with it involves so many problems that I don't really think that
will get a long way with it until we miniaturize that's just one thought I
understand that Alan has to leave somewhat later on the program and I'm
going to make a few suggestions about some of the statements he makes in its
presentation here that maybe just errors or misunderstanding but if you're going
to rewrite your nature think about that on the page where the discussion of
special funds is I find a few statements
that I don't understand ITA encourage this decomposition and sub
focalization both barriers to rapid reading okay also acquisition of language in
children seems to be on the word and sentence level with little attention to
grammar and almost no attention to morphology not unless you're saying
something that's not there right now in
my mind I think that's an patently untrue statement in the sense that
stories like a Berk oh that's just one example show that even children as young
as four year old do acquire rules of morphology even to the point that they
will put the correct morphemes and pluralization of nonsense words so
that's you know that's simply I think you ought to give consideration to that statement if you want to react to it
right now fine if it's self well let's
take the first one first it's true that that the well first I should say let's
put in my own in my own opinion here because the we have to admit that the
collections on research down about reading are really presuppose with those
kinds of things to at least they all can't be true so they must be the
opinion of the authors this is just yet another one but rapid readers seem to
seem to not decompose the words they read it like Chinese as I eluded in
there and ITA definitely encourages decoding and looking at the phonology of
words the other thing is that the fact that four-year-olds are learning more
follow G is not nearly as interesting as one and a half year olds learning
language to me and the way they learn it is not through morphology or syntax but
through the idea of words and objects and concatenating them together to make
sentences that's their atomic structure again that's only my opinion that's a
good thing that Buerkle was not in reading research I want to drop a point
because fish everywhere I can't prove it any more than he can uh he can she can
but anyway I I definitely think that
there may be you know a great many instructional applicability of
Dynabook like this the fact that
children can manipulate things is in itself a factor which is going to be or
import studies have shown that attitudinal interests in turn with CAI
systems are pretty permanent kids levels
of interest will stay with it even after prolonged interaction with such system
so there's no reason to believe that this even more versatile machine will in
that sense be a strong instructional component I don't believe that the
instruction is the issue that I didn't mention the word instruction though and
the of course it can be used for that and there's no way to prevent it being
used for that but seems like instruction as well again here's another wild
statement but it's not clear that instruction is the most reasonable way
of getting kids to learn something as a better way might be getting them to
become whatever it is that that you want them to learn me but again i just
believe that the stylistic the ability to take something take a poem for
instance and as somebody is mentioning this morning you change a word net well
what about changing one of the things that we did I couldn't put in the paper because of copyright violations was for
instance change all the he's and winnie-the-pooh to she reads very
differently we're going in transformed Christopher Robin into Eleanor okay and
you know diddle with it and this is something that you can do to get an idea
of of how how easy changes lead to big
effects quantitative qualitatively I the one of things mentioned in the
paper is that Packard's kids were discovered to sneak in to use the text
editor on the system simply to do their English compositions because they could
change them with very little penalty and have to type them out again machine
would do that for them and Patrick trapped every transaction that they made without
them knowing it on the stories that they were writing on these things and it's
it's a very interesting way of seeing how a kid puts a story together what kind of changes he makes to it how does
he improve it when he doesn't have to pay for the penalty of doing it I think
that's that to me is a heck of a lot more interesting than instruction in
fact pepper it's kids this is a real laugh but Patrick's kids actually write
their own CAI as when they want to learn multiplication they sit down write
themselves a little multiplication drill program and tappets thing is that moat
that CAI is one of the 20 things you get kids to do with a computer yeah things
if okay I guess I told us all that but I don't think that the emergence of the
Dynabook will deliver schools right away and I'm just I don't want it to I was
looking at a possibility of thinking of its applications they're the more
interesting point oh is that unless
there's any good programs to be put in
the file and I wanted use a word program
this will just be a very short lived thing that's right that's why the that's
why you want the kids to be able to see the difference between this kind of thing in playdough is profound you
cannot write a child cannot write a program on playdough you has to do what it does we can't do
anything and one of the problems is that Plato has a has a lack of instructional
material somebody has to write that stuff yeah that's exactly the difference
between being able to being able to to go to a library and being only be able
to select one book and be able to sit down and get some pad and paper and write your own I think it's I think
there's a difference I'm not saying that there aren't some things that you might not like to have a drilling skill
program I can't think of any right offhand but like suppose you learn long
division one way you can do it is be drilled and skilled to death
learning long division what is long division good for well it's not clear
but one way to one way to learn it is to understand it one way to understand it
is to write a series of actions that will do it for you
okay you got a tremendous reward there not only have you understood it better than you than anybody has ever
understood long division before so you have to cover every case but you never have to do long division again yourself
okay you've got it on your dictionary that's there I don't the evidence shows
that there's absolutely no lack fact it's absolutely the opposite the kids absolutely saturate the files of
Packard's stuff with their own stuff kids are really verbs not nouns you know
it's really unfortunate that the word kid is applied to them their very least
Germans could could we turn to some of
your reactions and move into that
well I think that that in the Lord's Alan's work and his talk indicates a
line of research that could best be characterized as the exploration of a
medium that is what actually that medium
is and what it might be capable of doing
and incidentally in this work comes
along the production of experimental devices that form the focus of the work
at various points in time
I think there is a tendency in our profession to look at this medium
exploration in terms of the gadgets the
devices that might result from the
exploration itself and while I would be
the last one to say that that that product in the form of devices would not
be forthcoming they well may I think that it's probably an unfortunate well
narrowing of one's view if one looks
rigidly and exclusively at the devices themselves because in fact what anybody
who works with a new medium comes to understand is that developing a new
medium were in the process of developing a new medium well kind of to use
professor Brody's terms this morning what you're really doing is forging a
new kind of stencil a new kind of template a new way to look at things and
I think that if I were to project on
where the let's say short-term benefits
of the exploration of the kinds of media that Alan is talking about if I were to
ask where it's going to come from probably less from the devices than it
is from the general conceptual framework
in which the investigation proceeds and I'd like to give you one very specific
example because well one example that it
seems to me is going to have will at
least become visible in the field of English within the next within the next
few years and I think it's indicative of a number that are likely to come there's
a line of research with which I'm familiar that starts in
IBM's research division where a group
for numbers in the mid 60s was charged with the responsibility to develop to
explore the medium of computer assisted instruction and over the years the
people in the this IBM research group said about developing what they and
others as well were referring to as
drill and practice programs drill and
practice programs were intended to be used as adjunct kinds of learning
experiences where Morales is a replacement of workbook activity of
drill activity and there are a number of
experiments in foreign language learning and remedial English language skills
arithmetic statistics a number of them a
number of experiments that it seems to
me experiments for which I think it could be said that the results are quite compelling it's not a question of
significance the results are large well
no one hears too much about these things now and I think very largely because the
device by which this this instructional technique was media it happens to be an
extremely costly one in us for the time being falling out of falling out of sight but there's been a line of
research over the last three four years that has started by analyzing the
successes of the CAI experimentation and ask the question well why is it that it
works and the general conclusion has
been that it works for a really a very simple reason namely what this CAI was
able to achieve was a translation of
apparently sound pedagogical theory into practice
the points that are made are as far as this theory is concerned that students
learn at varying rates that they can
benefit from immediate and detailed feedback regarding the adequacy of their
performance that they can benefit from tailored assignments based on some
demonstrated need and that their learning is somehow facilitated in a
skills program if they're required to master one block of stuff before going
on on to the next recognizing that it
was the computer as a medium that was able to achieve this translation this
line of research simply asked the question well if this is what's going on
here why might it not be possible simply
to devise paper and pencil techniques whereby you would have students working
in pairs a version of the buddy system with which teachers seemed to be very
familiar a special version of the buddy system in which students provide
immediate and selective correction one for the other where they provide
according to some pre established routine tailored assignments based upon
some evidence of how the kid they're working with is doing and so on and so forth
in any event there have now been a number of experiments some more detail
than others attempting to explore that
simulation of a computer technique and
the results have been every bit as striking and my own feeling is that that
as these findings begin to be made known what will become very clear is that from
the point of view itself there are
potentially a great many enormous benefits that that conceivably can be
derived and if I were to project I would
guess that that that over the next 10 years
that we're likely to see very substantial reformulations of
instructional systems the materials that support them the format's of the
materials that are used those systems of
use in the classroom by which these materials are used I expect to see great changes in these
kinds of things and I would have to argue that it is from the general
perspective of point or point of view of the medium exploration that that Allen
and his associates are currently engaged in kind summarize what you said I think
what what the major thing that was found out in CAI as far as I've ever been able
to read was that instant response really really works
that's about all I really know about positive results in CAI that is students
being tested with the same material one on a teletype console and the other one
with with just the same material on paper there's a there's a remarkable difference between the two the active
return of the thing Peter has done an interesting thing using kids to simulate
this kind of thing I think that the
reason I came to this conference was to try and get some ideas for how is it
that you measure progress in stylistic kinds of things as if your goal is not
answers right protesters test pass per year but sort of measuring Sistine
Chapel ceilings per lifetime ahead how
do you how do you know you're moving on towards that and we've been trying to
figure out ways of getting some idea whether the kid is developing his own
style by
through let's just say through media this isn't the exclusive medium that we
use but that's what we're interested in and people who are interested in that
please write me we have various groups on the west coast
thinking about that right now that nobody has has come up with any
brilliant ideas about how you measure a style seems like a stylistic things since the kid starts out with a lot of
style they almost all do and it gets gradually whittled away it'd be
interesting to know how to allow them to look at things from many different perspectives including the one that they
start out it started out with and still be able to let's say integrate
themselves into various aspects of the
real world Ellen I wonder if we might turn to the audience our time is
starting to get very short but maybe we
could take one or two questions from the audience before we have to stop is there
anyone that would like to comment all
right I have 200 points but I think they're and they don't really get out immediate question you're asking but I
think they get a substance of what's in the media
I think you've made up an assumption that's gotten us in trouble before and
that is the process of reading that adults engage in is somehow similar to
process that children go through in learning to read and you mentioned that
specifically in the content about APA it's entirely possible that children
have to engage in signs of behaviour in learning to read that adults have long
since given up on because they are productive to reading Vasiliy the other
one is that the song that we've been working on enjoying it for some time now
with not any great success but it's not clear to us that whatever a word means
in pre readers concepts is also very
different from anything like word says the word the concept word is really derived from print and a word could be
most effectively defined as a letter or collection of letters with more space
around it then when you talk about
language then the reality then of the word is in language you come to and
particularly in terms of language acquisition some very interesting ways
that kids divide the world up and which we really know yeah I I I believe that's
that second thing is true the first one I'm not so sure about the the only
reason I have that supposition is that well my brother is is five years younger
than than I am we both learned how to read at the age of two apparently
accidentally and both of us read over 2,000 words minute and as far as we can
tell this is five years apart the reason it happened was that our parents read to
us every night aloud and ran their finger underneath the words and we read
almost before we could speak and was years later that we learned how to spell
now of course taking two cases and running a generalization from that is
kind of silly but on the other hand it is cast readers do read that way and
it's not see the idea there is you're associating the kind of a thing that a kid can do already very fast that is he
can hear a story and hears it whatever
way he whatever way puts it together he hears it as a stream of things that are like nouns and verbs
okay and sentences utterances but that's
just a theory I don't I don't know so could you comment upon this method of a
way in which this media is use its effect upon human interaction almost we
are so informal when I say we I mean the other groups too that are doing this
kind of thing that would just disgust anybody who wanted concrete results most
of us have a prejudice about getting a good intuitive feel for what's going on
before we try and develop a theory and we don't have that the basic difference
is in the kids after a couple of months doing this are a change from in general
a a very I call it a noun like way of
looking at oneself being acted on by the outside to one of almost and like one
kid made a mistake in a program and gave it a grade of B when he started off
because that's you know he's used to the one time test that's all the chance you
get whereas course you get chances over and over here you can make you can do something that's perfect and after about
a month this sinks into the kids and they get unbelievably cocky about their
ability to do things even they're willing to attack anything because
they've seen that a few things can be pulled apart and understood okay so the
real effect the one concrete effect and this is I'm not basing any of the
reasons I'm doing this I'm doing this stuff because I like it the one concrete
effect that is pointed to is that Patrick's kids once did this for a year instead of their fifth grade to the
total exclusion of their fifth grade mathematics they at the end of that year
they took a standardized test in Massachusetts with the other 5th grade classes and just completely wiped them
out that is the worst kid in Packard's
class was better than the best kids I might mention that Pafford has only
accepted kids in the in the bottom two thirds into his thing he doesn't he has
excluded exceptional kids that are measured by conventional means from
doing this stuff because he doesn't want that kind of
you know that that kind of interaction artifacts creation so but really the
people who are doing are doing it because they believe in it as its you
know all these educators or people who are interested in educator or just notably religious and and the ones of us
are doing this or are no different you know we just believe it's a good thing
we feel that the theory will fall out if we only were to do enough of it but
there just hasn't been enough done so like I say we're not solving anybody's
problem here our if you know a way to measure these stylistic things we sure
like to say something it's the the convent of relationship
that students would have with each other we talk in humanistic terms what what
are the implications of this upon the way in which kids will react to other
people and what kind of you know what kind of adults are they gonna grow up being pretty chatty the tappets kids and
again these are this is the only stuff that's really been done for long enough to say anything about spend less than
eight less than twenty percent of their time actually working at a console doing
something they spend the rest of their time planning things out one of the
reasons we put it in the sketching quality graphics is we'd like the kids to be able to plan on it you know
playing in a grungy kind of way that way people do what they planned but they
spend their time planning and talking things over with other kids and acting
out the kinds of things that they you know they assumed various different perspectives one is there the thing that
they're trying to manipulate and they go wandering around the room another thing is that's sort of a reflexive kind of
thing another thing is trying to articulate which is the writing of the program
now there's sort of a critic okay or a
constructor the lots of different kaprat has done some clever things also he
happened to work the coordinate systems out so you can do two dimensional linear
transformations completely without ever knowing about sine and cosine which is a
very nice thing kids do learn linear transformations in fifth grade because
they want to move they want to make things of different sizes and they want
to move them around on the screen they don't have to know trig to do that
so that's just a side effect Ellen I hate to interrupt but I think our time
is just about done thank you very much and we'll stand adjourned