The Evolution of Educational Software
Proposed Exhibit

This overview of historical software shows you how computer programs developed from simple add-ons to lessons teachers presented through lectures, books and exercise sheets to stand-alone tools learners can use independently to master almost any subject. Along the way you'll get to play some games designed to teach, use some BASIC language programs to help out with calculations and simulations and see how interactive text books have "flipped" many classrooms.

About this Wiki Page

This site is a tool for designing the exhibit, not the finished product. It contains ideas, design notes and samples of material to be incorporated into the exhibit. If you are a member of this wiki you are invited to edit this page and add material you think will enhance the exhibit. Visitors, please post your comments in the "discussion" section of the page. We will incorporate your contributions into the page whenever possible.

Page begun by Liza Loop, 11 Jan. 2016

Exhibit Outline

Introductory Blurb

Timeline showing sample materials

Print-only Materials - Huntington II Project
- Before personal computers were available to students special arrangements had to be made so that students could get access to administrative or research computers in schools, universities and businesses. Often there was no way for the program to be loaded into the computer except by typing it on the console or computer terminal. Once the program was in the computer students might not be allowed to save their programs on magnetic tape or disk. To get around these difficulties, instructional designers simply printed the program along with other paper-based materials used to convey the lesson and practice exercises. One or two students would be assigned to reenter the program by keyboard each time the class wanted to run it.
  • Advanced Problems for Computer Mathematics
  • Huntington II Simulation Program - POP, Student Workbook, Teacher's Guide, Resource Handbook
- At first glance it looks like the POP materials, which contain three programs that simulate the growth of the gypsy moth, are designed to teach biology. After all, it would be almost impossible for a class of high schoolers to do the multi-year field work necessary to gather the data to generate the POP model. But on closer examination we see that the nature of computer simulations is the basic message to be gleaned from POP, while the biological information is secondary.
  • Huntington II Project - Charge, Student Workbook, Teacher's Guide, Resource Handbook
- The simulation in Charge has an entirely different purpose than POP. The Teacher's Guide recommends that the class actually do the Milliken Oil Drop experiment on equipment in the school laboratory so that the students experience what it is like to try to get repeatable data in the physical world. But student-generated data is not likely to be precise enough to demonstrate the mathematical relationships that support the scientific theory of charge. The computer program simulating the experiment will produce data that fits the theory. Using this data students can then do the calculations for themselves. The focus in this lesson is physics, specifically how early physicists verified a 50 year old theory by painstaking experimentation. At the first level there is little advantage of using computer-generated data over a table of sample measurements printed in a book. But book data is static, unchanging. Using the Charge program on a more sophisticated level permits the teacher (or advanced students) to vary the characteristics of the simulated experimental apparatus by changing the numbers in the program. This would be much harder to do in a physical laboratory and would take enormous amounts of time.

What do most students learn from using these two computer programs in their classrooms? From POP students are likely to develop a healthy understanding that predictions generated by a computer model of a real-world process are only as reliable as the model thought up by a human being and programmed into the computer. With Charge students are asked to accept the computer-generated data blindly and to use it to "verify" the same theory that informed the computer model. Here the reasoning is circular and no critical evaluation is asked of the student.

After-thought Programs - Talking up a Storm
Traditional Games Computerized - Tic Tac Show
New Learning Activities Enabled by Computing -
Enabling the Physically Challenged -
Computer Programming and Electronics as School Subjects - Rocky's Boots
Traditional Instruction Mediated and Delivered on Computer Screens -
Transcending the Classroom with Computer Conferencing and the Internet -
What We Can Learn from Old Software about 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Educational Software from the HCLE Collection

Huntington Project
Talking up a Storm
Tic Tac Show external image 1007.jpg

New Activity Example
Physical Enabling Example
Rocky's Boots
Traditional Example
Kids Conferencing Example - (Apple Talk??)