Jan. 11th, 2008

heiligekuh: (Default)
I had one of the great "I'm smarter than you" moments with some 7th graders yesterday. They were fiddling with the iMac in the back of my classroom, trying to tweak all the user settings so that it was "broken." In 7th grade parlance this means changing the default mouse button form left to right, upping the double click speed, maybe remaping the keyboard to dvorak if they really thought about it.

I walked back in the middle of this, laughed, then rebooted the machine into single user CLI mode and left. 7 kids clustered around the machine for 15 minutes, typing . . . .well, all the stuff you typed when you first hit a CLI and didn't know what you were doing, but with the nouns updated for 2007.

>open internet explorer
>clear memory
>erase memory
>delete all
>why doesn't this work? how can you do thsi without a mouse? I don't know computer code! agajakslhaksljhsal

This comes at the same time that one of my 8th graders is doing a weird tech/history project on the development of the GUI. His mom has been trying to tell him how phenomonal the switch from vi to emacs was, with the ability to compile without exiting the editor, and beng able to multitask with than simply bg and fg. And how it affected her Rouge play. Have I mentioned she may win nerd mom of the year?

But he doesn't understand. He runs Ubuntu Gutsy but only thinks of the command line as a tool to use when clicking is too cumbersome. And he's by far the most literate user I've ever taught. These are kids, remember, who were born after you gradtuated from HS. Their first computer experience was at least as advanced as the first machine you had in college.

So I'm going to try and run an extra credit project. Using a bundle of flashdrives, I want to build a CLI-only bootable system that still has the basic functions they'd need for school. Network drivers, a text editor (pico, vi, emacs), a web browser that can handle web mail (there must be one, right?) and possibly an IM client. I'll forgo printing, as I think that the diversity among printer models makes that more work than I'd be willing to do.

In the past I've used Damn Small Linux for my in-class machines, and it certianly fits on small drives. But I wonder if by going to a more full-featured distro I can make the hardware identification and configuration (most of which I'll probably have to do individualy) easier. And I'd love to be able to have them end the week by launching GNOME/KDE and finding out that they now have a "real" computer that builds on the strange skills they've built.

Any ideas, O nerd friends?


heiligekuh: (Default)

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