I was rather pleased to see Alex playing with Scratch this morning. It’s a free Flash web tool designed for kids that enables them to write programs by connecting a variety of elements together. I think it’s quite good for teaching kids about loops and logic.
I have also installed Microsoft Small Basic on his machine, though it might be a bit advanced for a six year old. Not for long, though.
Alex is rather obsessed with computers and is very comfortable using them. Right now he’s very proud of his ability to change the desktop background in Windows 8. He also made his own slideshow movie with Movie Maker and another with YouTube.
The obsession can be rather funny though. He may be the only person who like Ctrl-Alt-Del and typing in passwords, getting rather upset that you don’t have to do it this way for home machines, unlike enterprise systems at school and work.
He also wanted Word and PowerPoint. Unwilling to shell out further money for both until he actually needs them, I installed LibreOffice instead and told him that it was the latest version, newer than at school (him being used to this with Windows 8.1 instead of the school’s Windows 7) and that’s why the icons are different.
I must get him on to Linux as well. He prefers the iPad to his Windows 8 convertible laptop/tablet, but the reason I chose the latter is that it runs Adobe Flash, which a lot of educational websites, including Scratch, still require.
Unfortunately, the Microsoft Parental Controls are an annoying pain to use, though still beneficial when it comes to learning what not to click on.
What I really need to get working on is controls on YouTube to prevent certain useless topics from being displayed (e.g. EvanTubeHD, adult reviews of toys and endless computer game commentary). There’s so much else that’s educational or creative that could be watched instead.
I think back to reading my parents’ 1950s medical textbooks, full of grotesque diseases largely unknown due to vaccines and antibiotics. Now Alex watches the highly educational Operation Ouch on ABC iView and can tell us the most remarkable medical facts. I’m quite envious actually!