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T O P I C     R E V I E W
Member # 3203
 - posted January 10, 2005 09:54
Hi All,
I am ever hopeful that someone here can provide some direction for me.
A little background, so please be patient... I have been a teacher of young children for a long time, and just completed an MA in Instructional Systems Design. Through that process, one course required using Authorware to design a tutorial. Naturally, I chose a subject that would function in a pre-k-K classroom. While I have the files, I don't own a copy of the software and now that class is over the website it was uploaded to is down, it does not work. However ... there is a REAL need for this kind of simple tutorial that goes along with books and topics we use in the classroom. Most software available teaches a set of skills, but does not always correspond to our themes.

Now to the question (finally) ... Is there a less expensive, fairly easy to use software (other than PowerPoint) that would allow me to put together these kinds of tutorials and burn them to a CD so the tutorials would work classroom to classroom? THANK YOU in advance!!!
Member # 2097
 - posted January 10, 2005 10:32
Perhaps I am just an asshole.

Authorware for Kinders? WTF!

You know when I was that old I was just trying to memorize the days of the week. I remember teachers reading those book things to me.

From what I know about Authorware, it is like Powerpoint on steroids.

Now just for basic knowledge, I am in the IT dep't for a school District. And I am absolutely confounded by primary level teachers taking tech courses. I understand it for Middle-High school kids but at that level it seems like a "pass-the-buck" teaching.

So just grab a book and some paper and TEACH our kids! Do some fsking numbers and letters by rote and give our kids a solid foundation.
Member # 3166
 - posted January 10, 2005 10:47
Originally posted by CommanderShroom:
Perhaps I am just an asshole.

Authorware for Kinders? WTF!
From what I know about Authorware, it is like Powerpoint on steroids. ... it seems like a "pass-the-buck" teaching.

So just grab a book and some paper and TEACH our kids! Do some fsking numbers and letters by rote and give our kids a solid foundation.

Ya know, 'Shroom, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say, "Please don't mince your words! Speak what is on you mind." [Big Grin]
Member # 2097
 - posted January 10, 2005 11:05
Well GG I work in a 90% district. That means in simple terms that 90% of these children have trouble reading, or speaking English. Or their math skills are either way below their grade level or have almost non-existant skills.

And on a daily basis I have teachers ask up about setting up web design for children that can barely read a book. This is some of the most disappointing display of teachers possible. And those are the same people that have the audacity to say they are not paid well enough for the hard work they do. I have caught those same people on adult oriented sites, and asking about getting the filter to open a connection to e-bay, because they need to check their "home business" auctions.

And the sad part is the teachers I truly respect are at or near retirement age. So what does that leave us with?
Member # 3166
 - posted January 10, 2005 11:13
I 've no argument with anything you've said on this thread, 'Shroom. After working with kids for the past 10 years in a variety of settings, I cannot conclude that the current educational process in the US is an improved one - on any level. (With apologies to those teachers that do their level best to educate)
The Famous Druid
Member # 1769
 - posted January 10, 2005 12:26
I've got to leap to needageeks defence here, I've watched my 2 girls use their computer, and gain great value from it.

The 3 most important things in education (especially in the early years) are
1. Repetition
2. Repetition.
3. Repetition.

Computer based systems are very good at that.

Also, I've watched my girls spend over an hour on the computer playing basic 'alphabet' games, and yet when I sit down with them and try to do the same thing one-on-one, they get bored after a few minutes and want to go play something else. If the computers blinkenlights and sounds help to keep their attention, then I'm more than happy to use them.

Mrs Druid's a teacher, and one of the perrennial problems is parents and politicians who think they're experts in education, because they went to school once. They can often be very strident in their views, and quite insulting to the teachers who are (usually) trying their best to do a difficult job with insufficient resources.

I don't come onto these boards and tell Xanthine how to do biochem, or Spungo how to shag sheep, I respect their expert knowledge in their fields, so lets show a little respect for an education geeks special skills, m'kay?
Member # 748
 - posted January 10, 2005 12:31
Sorry 'Shroom (and GG), but I'll have to throw a pavement in your rant. Sometimes computer-based training can help kids (yes, even the little ones) learn, especially when they have short-attention span or learning disabilities. Although CBT is often abused (as so many other technologies are), children (and adults) can redo a part as many time as they need without fear of beeing judged slow or dumb, and yet they can learn at their own rythm without slowing down the group as in traditionnal classroom training.

Authorware is a lot more than PowerPoint, and there are no "cheap" alternatives, except maybe building a Flash application. Here at work, we use ReadyGo's Course Builder, but it produces plain HTML pages and has few bells and whistles, so the type of courses created are probably not best suited for children. The upside is, you can export it to a CDRom.

The only suggestion I can offer is to check the educational prices for Authorware. Or give more info about the kind of courses/tutorials/learning activities your are looking into, so I might find something else. (But I am in no way an expert. I haven't even tried Authorware for myself yet, although that's on the horizon.) You may also look into what is already available on the 'net. Maybe someone already built what you want and made it available freely.

Good luck!
Member # 736
 - posted January 10, 2005 12:43
I used to play Reader Rabbit and Math Rabbit and even a bit of Writer Rabbit as a child. Much more fun than worksheets, and the animations were cute. I learned a lot of geography by playing games like Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail. Do not mock the power of computers to teach kids.

I've had very little experience with teaching children, but I have assisted in some children's aikido classes. The most important thing is maintaining the kids' attention. You can make adults do the same movement over and over as a drill. Kids will lose their minds in ten seconds. So we played games. In the classes for the pre-schoolers games are about all the do. For the older kids we mix it up with real techniques, but we've still got obstacle courses we set up for them to run and many variants of tag. And they learn. It's so funny to see some kid just sorta go through a move in a daze until he or she's in an obstacle course and one of the obstacles is an attacker. Suddenly, they do it right. We also make things that aren't necessarily games into games...when they're going up and down the mat knee-walking or bear walking or rolling we'll taunt them. Very gently, and only if we know the kid can take it, but it makes them giggle and try a little bit harder.

What I'm getting at is this: making learning into playing has a lot of value. If a computer program will hold a kid's attention than I say go for it. BUT it needs to be a quality program. There's a lot of trash out there, but the good stuff, well, the good stuff taught me how to add and also what the capital of Afghanistan was.
Member # 2097
 - posted January 10, 2005 13:13
I am not saying that certain computer courses cannot be valuable to children or their learning. Unfortunately I think the point that I am trying to raise is this...

He is talking about 4-6 yr olds. And wants to create these computerized presentations. To me it sounds a lot like he is playing for the sake of playing.

I administer Accelerated Reader, Star Reading, Success Maker and a host of other specialized programs. In and of themselves there is no inherent evil. It is when teachers that use technology as a babysitter. And FWIW I was also a computer lab instructor. I aided in all of those programs. And even then I watched people bring in their kids to palm them off onto me.

Quality teaching is a skill. Too bad it seems that most of the one's I have come across are in it for the benefits, not to make a child's life better.

Member # 2814
 - posted January 10, 2005 13:15
Originally posted by Stereo:

Am i the only one who sees 'cognitive behavioural therapy' when reading this?
Member # 1429
 - posted January 10, 2005 15:09
Originally posted by Xanthine:
I learned a lot of geography by playing games like Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail. Do not mock the power of computers to teach kids.

You learned some geography from oregon trail? I learned that, whenever going on a long trip, instead of buying alot of food, buy alot of bullets [devil wand] [Cool] [evil]
Member # 3203
 - posted January 10, 2005 17:36
First of all, thanks to all of you jumping to my defense, but I think the Commander needs to hear this from me.

Commander, I think you missed the point here entirely . Have you read the research on Computer Assisted Instruction? I've spent hours and hours and hours reading all of the pertinent educational research on the subjecct done since 1960 (I'll provide references if you wish)! The results are this: CAI when COMBINED with quality teaching (which I provide as do many teachers in the system today) increases academic achievement, particularly for children with learning disabilities or considered,for some reason(income, drugs, abuse etc.),"at risk" .

Secondly, if you'd spent time in the trenches as opposed to commanding, you might realise that teachers need to use ALL the tools available to them as efficiently as possible, as early as possible, in order to meet the needs of MORE children with special needs entering our doors in the earliest years.

Children not reading, is not because most teachers are passing the buck and not teaching. Nor because we are not using books or paper or play! We use ALL of those things! Children are not reading, because VERY often they do not have the same support at home that children once did or they have been born with some organic road block that needs special assistance.(But I won't continue that thread ... I would still be writing tomorrow morning on the subject.)

So back to my issue. Xan ... we have all those same software packages still. And they are indeed useful. The problem we have is that often the content doesn't match up to the topics being addressed in the classroom. And software is expensive.

As an example, if in science we wish to teach about living and non-living with the social studies component relating to basic needs, we may choose a topic of Farm Animals. Naturally, we will be counting, reading, writing, playing games, and yes, visiting Farm Animals.

BUT when we have time available for small group work, when the teacher is with say 4-5 children for more individual instruction, others need actively engaging activities. Most will be reading, writing, playing. But another 1-4 children (depending on how many hand me down computers I may be lucky some secondary tech person has passed down) are given the opportunity to use the computers. They LOVE the computers and many don't have home access! At that time rather than allowing some non-productive activity, I would prefer to have a tutorial that coincides with my content, and reinforces the points I have been teaching.

As the tagline shared with you... I am a newbie. And not a geek or I wouldn't need one. Nor am I just PLAYING (even though I DID find it fun). I see a need to be filled, I have the knowledge about content, and am just trying to learn the rest. Thanks to those of you really trying to help.

So Commander ... what made you assume I was a "he" who was just playing?
Member # 2950
 - posted January 10, 2005 19:00
Well OK

Let's just all "time out" for a moment...

Personally I like to think we can all get along on here... (usually)

To be brutally frank I think Shroom may have gone in a bit hard, but at the same time I see where he is coming from...

I am completely in agreement with you and Mrs Druid that "good" CBT in conjunction with well structured teaching based around the core precepts can only be beneficial...

In Shroom's defence if you live in an area where education is either under par or failing to deliver for some other reason hackles rise... Education is always an emotional issue and I believe that you too would deplore the sort of "computer as educational equivalent of babies' dummy" that Shroom and GG (and myself to be frank) have seen in some areas.

I have posted a comment regarding Irlen's syndrome in another thread tonight and won't repeat it here but it may be of interest to some of you.

I don't recall Shroom or GG saying they assumed you were a "he" but maybe they did, I personally - on no evidence at all - kind of got the impression you were female (Why? Discuss with supporting evidence... [Smile] Yes that was a mild education "joke".

Not knowing what it is you are actually trying to build makes it hard to comment but I would think an HTML or Flash based presentation would do as well as anything at the level you are talking about addressing (Check out the UK BBC preschooler website cbeebies to see some good Flash based interactive preschooler content...

Other options would include "Supercard" style self contained stacks (on the Mac anyway) but I guess you need cross platform compatability. There is a damn fine package for basic programming in a cross platform environment but right now the name of it completely escapes me (spits feathers...) and I don't think it is prohibitively expensive. When it comes to me I will post it....

OK, it is very late here 3:00am UK so I MUST go to bed or be no use to anyone later this morning... (when I have to work)

Member # 955
 - posted January 10, 2005 19:38
I don't know if this will do exactly what you want, but I know that OpenOffice.org has a free component that is amazingly similar to PowerPoint. I'm not sure if it will produce standalone content, though.

http://www.openoffice.org will give you more information.
Member # 3166
 - posted January 10, 2005 19:40
Originally posted by drunkennewfiemidget:
Originally posted by Stereo:

Am i the only one who sees 'cognitive behavioural therapy' when reading this?
No, you're not.
Member # 2918
 - posted January 10, 2005 19:47
I'm not sure if it will produce standalone content, though.

File -> Export, then choose Flash (or something to that effect), although then you can't go backwards, AFAIK. Or export it as HTML, and have arrows going to next/previous. Either way.
Member # 2097
 - posted January 11, 2005 05:23

First off let me apologize for a very harsh reply. And for assuming that you were male.

Reply #1 was post emergency purchase request for a Dell insperon XPS, for photo editing. By a teacher with a BA in classroom technologies. Before anyone thinks that we are just being mean. We went through a to-do last summer and purchased 5 systems, for this teacher and their department, 2.8 GHZ HT, 1 GB RAM, etc. etc. But apparantly now they are unable to do it at work and want the laptops to take home and do it.

Now one of the teachers does use the desktop. And I am fairly sure that he would use the laptop. But the one that is pushing for this, was furious at us for taking the systems up to W2K from 98 and ME last year. And also I think cropping photos can be done a a fairly more basic system. Like the 2.8 GHZ laptops that we are currently puchasing.

Post #3 was just a short bit of time after *I* was accused of deleting a folder of program data that I administer. Now the last time this happened, it took 3 hours to repair the damage. And of course that is my idea of fun.

Now to the issue at hand. I never said that proper use of technology to teach children was a bad thing. But as I also stated. I cannot see any valid reason to use programs such as Author ware with 4-6 yr olds. And unless you have a study that states "Using Authorware in a classroom of.." will I change my mind.

The parent bit is another teacher cop out. I have recieved a much higher quality education than my son does. And not from my lack of trying to help him learn and comprehend. When I was a child of public education, my mother worked 60 hr weeks and my father was still a career alcoholic. Plus my mother still has trouble reading and speaking English. So when people tell me that the reason I recieved a better educatrion was due to the fact my parents were more involved, I laugh.

I had some wonderful teachers. Some that I remember to this very day. And I admire as people. And I know for a fact that they worked longer hours than most teachers do now. And I know for a fact the pay was not better. And the teachers that I admire in the district I currently work, are reaching retirement age. And the new ones do not instill any great confidence in me.

That is not to say that parents are not part of the process. They are the one of the most important parts of it, but teachers are just as crucial. And I am sick and tired of walking through classrooms trying to do my part, and watch teachers that push out obviously wrong information. Or absolutely ignore the children that honestly have a need. And the next day see them in a union meeting yelling about how they are here for the children.

And I also have an issue with using computers as a method of teaching small children. I don't, nor have I ever, thought that computers at K-2 levels were a good thing. Granted I do IT work everyday, it is my bread and butter. I don't however like the the use of tech on very small children. I also don't use computers often with my own. And when I do I know exactly what is happening.

It was the mid 80's before I even saw a computer. And maybe it is because I spent my first decade of life with toothless Appalaccia hicks that technology does not rule my life. And it actually bothers me to see children that can work a computer, but cannot do things with their bare hands anymore.

Technology is a great tool. But it has to be implemented wisely. At the proper time with proper instruction.

To your question.

There is no tool that I know of that will do what Authorware does. That is the main reason they can charge what they charge for it. If you truly believe that this is a better method you may have to either bite the bullet and purchase it. Or you may have to experiment with a mixed run of Powerpoint, Flash and other media.
Member # 3203
 - posted January 11, 2005 07:59
Thank you, Commander, for the apology of sorts. Obviously the demands of the school system got to you ... as it does to all of us in one way or another at some point.

There are many, many reasons, children today are not as educated as perhaps you and I are. Sadly, I agree with you that many teachers' practice, both old and new, bring a cold chill to my spine. However, placing complete blame on the classroom teacher is an easy out.

When I hear teachers being blasted, it makes me angry and it is time we stuck up for ourselves! SO much of the world is clueless as to what teachers actually face in public school classrooms. It is those moments I recall images of myself, sitting on the floor, holding and trying to calm a violent 5 year old (whose issues were too long to list), kicking and trying to bite me, while giving directions to keep the rest of the class on track. Or hearing a four year old tell me he's going to "kick my a**" and kicking me, because it wasn't his turn for the Lego, while I kept a sweet smile and told him how I could tell he was very angry. Or the parent who threatened violence toward all her children's teachers, causing the entire school to go to lockdown(and this in a top rated school). The list goes on and on and on. We are indeed teaching schools filled with children whose parents love Jerry Springer.

Even you, Commander, didn't hesitate to take your anger out on me (whom you do not know and have no clue about my teaching skills), when I was just asking for help.

I had a single mom back when it was unheard of, and I was the only latch key kid in the neighborhood. BUT if I had acted in the classroom the way SO many children act now, it would not have been tolerated. Neither by my parent, my extended family, nor the school. Now, well... I've actually been sent by the district to take classes on how to restrain children so they would not be harmed when they become violent.

Just understand that I have no intention of using Authorware IN the classroom, only the products I could produce with it, on my own time. Which, by the way, is limited when I am teaching, as I am one of those teachers whose classroom light is often still burning when the caretaker comes to chase me out.

Currently, I am not in the classroom, as I took this school year off to finish my degree, do some of this kind of thing, and volunteer at schools. It is far too difficult for me to give those children who need so much of me, and still have time for my life, as I really AM there for the children!

Obviously, you and I could continue a debate on educational issues and my intent for some time to come, but I doubt others on this forum would appreciate it.

Thanks for the help from all of you. I'll investigate your suggestions.
Member # 3166
 - posted January 11, 2005 08:18
Originally posted by needageek:
As the tagline shared with you... I am a newbie. And not a geek or I wouldn't need one. Nor am I just PLAYING (even though I DID find it fun).

Well, let's hope you'll be back for some more fun. For my part, I did not mean to offend. If I did, then I offer you my apology. The topic of children seems to resonate deeply with many of the posters here - their care, nurture and education. Like you, needageek, it seems many have dealt with damaged kids. It makes one sensitive; perhaps too much so. While that may seem a flimsy justification for whatever overeaction(s) that took place, it is still true. As you accurately pointed out in one of your posts, we are all capable of making emotional (as opposed to logical) arguments.
(With an additional apology to Mr. Spock)
Member # 2097
 - posted January 11, 2005 08:34

I concur that the debate that could ensue from this exchange would drive everyone here mad. I guess education, much like politics and religion, can create some knee-jerk reactions. Especially in me. What I believe, I believe wholeheartedly.

I am disgusted by the lack of power that educators have upon our children today. This is a doing of parents and "concerned" members of our respective communities. When I went to school in the back woods, it was not considered cruel or unusual to see a well used paddle on the teacher's desk. In fact it was encouraged. And after you went home your parents got a hold of you. So there was a much stronger code of conduct there. And I know I needed it.

But under the same umbrella are the school systems lack of spine to keep the status quo, so to speak. Many educators have given up and given in. Which leads to an even weaker system of learning. I grew up without and even though being the poorest kid in my circle of friends was tough, I look back and am very grateful for it. I learned how to make do.

My co-worker told me a joke yesterday that brings a certain light.

20 something say to an older man. Each debating the virtues of their generation.
"You know we have electricity to every home, computers, fast cars, easily accesable news and even vehicles that go to the planets of our Solar system. What did you guys have?"

The old man stops for a moment and says "it's true when I was your age none of those things existed. You know what we did? We invented them."

My biggest fear and gripe is that the way many things are done (socially and educationally) has removed the questing spirit from our children. And spend the hours I have free trying to keep that alive in mine. Though many times I feel like I am losing the battle.

And for the sake of each of us and the rest of the members here, I will step away from this thread. My earlier attack aside, feel free to stick around. Most of my debates are more civilized.

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