Sunday, July 25, 2004

How "Computer Courses" flourish??

Picking up from the last time. The Indian kid gets his first tryst with destiny on a box which he has been told has get gone through several "generations" of changes to be in front of him in this shape. His classbook tells him that is 5th in the genration. Charles Babbage is the Adam of this species and Lady Ada Lovelace (may her soul not get offended by this) is supposedly the Eve. Then came great grand-daady EDVAC, ENIAC and others (man, we had to cram up the acronyms to get the elusive 'A' grade!!)

The kid burns his hands with 1's complement and 2's complement. Gets to know Gray Code as if it were a part of some great Conspiracy Theory. And to add spice to all this, are codes to print the reverse of an input string.

So far so good. Kids get their first lessons and then they start experimenting with the stuff. And suddenly there will be a bright kid who would develop a PacMan game in BASIC with key handling, graphics and even music added!!

Now, a peep into another section of learners. They get enrolled in those sprawling computer classes, ones which dot the suburbs like net-cafes and PCOs. There you have an instructor teaching the kids "Windows". Teaching Windows?? As in teaching Operating System fundamentals, threading, memory management,.... naahhhh. They are kids, begineers; you don't teach them such stuff. So what in the name of "Windows" do they teach. They teach how to open folders, how to "copy-paste" (first step towards becoming a great programmer :), how to undelete files from Recycle Bin!!!

People have to satrt from some poine. Well this is a good starting point. But the cost paid is highly improportional to the learning acheived. I believe that learning computers as a technology\device\science has an exponential curve to it. Somebody has to give that initial push. Rest of the ground will be covered by the inquistive mind. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen for most of the "computer literate".

Imagine a course claiming that they will teach you Internet. Do they teach IP addresses?? Do they teach DNS?? They teach HTTP or TCP/IP?? These are the basics of learning Internet technology. What they teach is how to opne Internet Explorer window and where is the address bar. That's all... and tha's all what is needed. After that the mind will take the person surfing in the waves of the Web. How much price should be taken for teaching somebody where the address bar is?? A look at the course fees of such institutes will tell that education is real COSTLY.

Here's my two cents to how a kid should be learning the computer course. Let him be instructed to where the UPS is, where the power switch of the CPU is and let him boot automatically to Windows. (Sorry guys, Linux is too techy for a kid to start learning with!!) Tell him where "Start" is, how to open notepad, how to open "Solitaire" and how to save files. Sit with him for th first few sesions. Let him be interested in the multimedia part first. And believe me, today's kids have access to remote controls of TV which have more options than all the key controls for the DOOM game!!! They will pick up things like lightning. Once they get used to the environment, and are of proper age (6th standard prseumably); make them start with the programming language like BASIC. Again a short course which teaches them how to get a couple of PRINTS and palindromes done will be sufficient to get them going. Just make good books available to them. GOOD books. And form there you just have to sit back and relax. They will be on their way to super-geekdom.

Computer Science is the only subject I believe which cab be self-learnt to proficeincy by having access to a PC and good books.

No comments: