December 2009

Reflection on Alan Kay’s Lecture on the Use of Educational Technology

I think anybody interested in the use of computers in education might find it interesting to watch a video clip of Dr. Alan Kay who is one of the founding “fathers” of the computer applications in education and who has been researching how humans interact with computers for more than thirty years now. Take a look: .

I like how Dr. Kay discusses the difficulties that computer designers had to overcome to facilitate human-computer interaction and how he points out good as well as bad ideas. Watching a few of Alan Kay’s lectures online, I think that one of the main and probably the strongest points that Alan Kay makes in his lectures and writing is that technology should not be driving how we teach but big ideas should. We should think of technology as a neat tool that opens new opportunities for teachers and students, yet an effective use of technology require BIG IDEAS. This is what I keep thinking about. What are THE BIG IDEAS in my classes that drive me as a teacher and that I can achieve or implement using technology? It is an easy question that requires a hard answer…

6 Responses to Reflection on Alan Kay’s Lecture on the Use of Educational Technology

  1. dockat

    Hi Marina, I enjoyed watching the video.
    I have just bought a pen (Wacom) for my computer to become familiar with the pen interface and to try some artwork again. I used to have one for my old Mac years ago. There is something wierd about drawing on a computer tablet…I will need to try different nibs and such. Not the same texture as paper and so I find my drawings much less precise. I am trying to teach it my writing, but again, the technology is having trouble with this since my written words are not as precise on the slippery surface and my writing changes somewhat depending on the day and my speed. Human-machine interface issues are very interesting. Best

  2. Marina Milner-Bolotin

    Dear Kathleen,

    I agree with your comment. I think you have to get used to the pen technology. It took be about a month or so to do it. However, I am not an artist. I use it for writing on different documents (just bought a pdf annotator – software – super useful), showing derivations to my students, etc. Having a pen capabilities makes a huge difference to me now because it is easier for me to show the process of how I am thinking versus bringing a ready PowerPoint slides. These are applications to teaching science.

    In general, this is a very interesting field, I agree.
    Have a great semester, M.

    PS: Thanks for being the first viewer of my blog – and an active participant!

  3. Charles Moffet

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? – Thanks

  4. Lou Merloni

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  5. Keith Osik

    Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out. This is good…thanks for sharing

  6. Marina Milner-Bolotin

    1) Charles, I am not sure how I can change it. I am new to blogging, I will ask my colleagues.

    2) Keith, I will think about it. Sometimes I do add videos but I might need to do more. I agree that reading a long post (especially mine) might be boring. To tell you the truth, I am writing it for myself – just to remember later what I was thinking about… Thanks for the comment.

    Thanks Lou.

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