Tie Fighter

Last night, my six year old daughter started playing Minecraft on my Windows desktop. She was clumsy with the keyboard / mouse combination that a desktop Minecraft experience requires. Telling her that “W” moves your character forward, and “S” backwards while you use your mouse to pan and active click (oh, and spacebar to hop) was interesting to process.

But she did it. And within a few minutes, she was flipping into her inventory (by pressing “E”) and back out with the right door or fence or block that she needed to build her underground home.

I tried to stand back and let her do her thing without acting like I wanted to build for her. But I knew I had to. I want her to learn how to use a keyboard.

Pro-Tip: I learned how to use a keyboard and type in the early 90’s working on my IBM clones and playing classic games like 1993’s Star Wars X-Wing and 94’s Tie Fighter.

These games did more for my keyboarding (and eventual programming) skills than any typing class in school that I had to take.

I want the same for my children, and I hope they realize the inherit power of a keyboard over an onboard software keyboard experience via iPhone, iPad etc.

Of course, I may be wrong. But I don’t think so.

In my mind, Seth Godin nails it…

Many people are quietly giving away one of the most powerful tools ever created—the ability to craft and spread revolutionary ideas. Coding, writing, persuading, calculating—they still matter. Yes, of course the media that’s being created on the spot, the live, the intuitive, this matters. But that doesn’t mean we don’t desperately need people like you to dig in and type.

The trendy thing to do is say that whatever technology and the masses want must be a good thing. But sometimes, what technology wants isn’t what’s going to change our lives for the better.

via Seth’s Blog: Without a keyboard.

To me, the crux of the issue of using devices in a classroom comes down to the culture of a specific classroom… is there a teacher at the front of the room sharing information and knowledge with an audience of students, or is there a collaborative environment (or something of a hybrid)?

This is written from a college professor’s point of view, but still valuable for k-12 educators and a good read (especially the elephant and elephant driver metaphor):

This is, for me, the biggest change — not a switch in rules, but a switch in how I see my role. Professors are at least as bad at estimating how interesting we are as the students are at estimating their ability to focus. Against oppositional models of teaching and learning, both negative—Concentrate, or lose out!—and positive—Let me attract your attention!—I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process. It’s me and them working to create a classroom where the students who want to focus have the best shot at it, in a world increasingly hostile to that goal.

via Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away… — Medium.