Computers in education experiences

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Computers in education experiences

Post by MattyC64c » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:53 am

I've asked this question before, but it was years ago. Anyway, what computers did you use during your education?

I started school in about 1983. I don't remember what year I first used a computer at school, it must have been either 1984 or 1985. The machine was an Acorn BBC computer. I'm pretty sure I wasn't too impressed at the time as we had a C64 at home. We still had BBC machines when I left primary school in 1990. I always thought the graphics and colour were unimpressive compared to my Commodore 64 at the time.

When I started secondary school in 1990, the BBC computer was still the main machine of choice. They were probably better models, but they still had same kind of graphics capabilities as the older machines. I do believe they were networked together at my secondary school.
They did have some Archimedes machines later on, but I didn't get to see one until at least 1993, and unfortunately I didn't get the chance to try one out. In fact, I’ve still never used one.

I also did an I.T based class at school, but we used to go over to the local college to do it. They did these classes on Thursday afternoons, and it was pretty cool at the time as you didn't have to wear your school uniform. The computers they had were IBM machines. They were mostly 286 models, but some were even older.

When I finished secondary school in 1994, I tried my hand at an art and design college course, although I didn’t stick it. They had Apple Mac computers there. Oddly enough, the monitors for these computers were mostly black and white. What was the point of that for art??

Like I said, I didn’t stick to the art and design course so I went on to an I.T based Youth Training scheme instead (well there was money in it, and I was skint!). Their computers were quite advanced with DX2 66MHz PCs running Windows 3.1.

After that I went to college, the same college that I did the I.T course at school. The computers had moved on a bit since then, now they had more advanced 486 DX4 100’s running either Windows 3.11 or Windows 95.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by Prof Mango B Coconut » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:15 pm

I guess we're near enough the same age...

At infant school, they had a few BBC B's which none of the teachers knew how to operate. Since we had one at home, I was pretty much the unofficial teacher.

At middle/junior school we had a couple of BBC Masters and again a few Beebs. They didn't seem to get used very much as I recall - no IT lessons, no learning based on them. Another student and I set up the school's Computer Club and we remained the sole members until leaving.

I went to three secondary schools. The first did IT lessons on 286 PCs with amber screens. I learnt nothing I didn't know already know. The second - and I was only there for 6 months - only seemed to have some knackered Beebs as far as I can recall. The third had Beebs, Masters and Archimedes machines. Strangely, the Beebs were used in Maths, the Masters in the "language lab" and the Archimedes lived in the "Computer Suite" and library. Most of which never got used as far as I can recall.

Sixth form was the usual assortment of Arcs, which were slowly being phased out by 486 DX2s. Played a lot of network Doom :)

University was a somewhat ghastly affair. The best kit they had were DEC VT220 terminals backed by Sun SPARC servers. I took great delight in thoroughly crippling the entire network by running huge simulations across it. I believe they upgraded everything to something more modern after I graduated.
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by IronMaidenRule » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:30 pm

At Primary school there was a mixture of BBC Micro's and Acorn Archimedes, they were hardly used for Educational purposes at all, we mainly played games like Lemmings on the BBC and SWIV on the Archimedes, god knows how the school manage to have a copy of that.

When I first started Secondary school it was a real mishmash of computers, there was a lab still running BBC Micro's for database work (this was in 1996!) and another room was full of various Pentium PC's some on Windows 3.1 and some on Win 95. After a few years the whole school got rebuilt and entered a partnership with Tiny Computers, so the whole school was decked out in them running Windows 98.

At College, I studied Music Production so there were standard Windows computers with Yamaha XG sound card of some description, the studio PC's were a custom jobby done by the technicians and connect to Delta 1010's.

Now, I work in a school as a technician and the best spec's computers are in the digital arts suite, Quad-Core i7's with 8GB of RAM, 24" HD Monitors.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by necronom » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:42 pm

When I started senior school in '82 (I think), we had about 6 or 7 PETs that we used almost all the time, and about 4 BBCs we used sometimes (including my main O-Level quiz program). There was what I think was a Research Machines 380Z, though I don't ever remember us using it.

In College, they had a Prime Mini-computer which we used through the dumb terminals. For CAD we used PCs.

The Polytechnic (now a University), had a Prime again, and the library had 3 PCs that we used once for a report. They year after we left it was all changed and I expect went "all PC", so I'm glad we still used the mini-computer.
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:24 am

I can't remember what the big computers were at school, Pets I think, I just have a vague memory of a hulking machine being dragged out once or twice and we were hardly allowed to touch them. Early days, just as the computer boom was starting, so the teachers didn't know how to work them or what to use them for really. Computer studies was something that didn't exist at that level, they were the things of universities.

Move on a year or two and we did get a short course on computing which was an afternoon a week for one term, for which we had a Spectrum. Supposed to be teaching us BASIC, but for the tasks we were set I ended up showing the teacher how to do stuff like use INKEY$ to read the keyboard and error trap it instead of using INPUT where there wasn't much control. I think he learned more than I did. On the upside, he'd let us play games for a bit at the end of the lesson and was quite happy for us to take in our own. He was a decent bloke and a pretty good science teacher.
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by PanzerGeneral » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:54 pm

No computers in my primary school, My first contact with a real machine would have been upon visiting a local factory with the primary school, I seen all these blokes sitting in front of BBC's with various bits and pieces hanging out the back(that's the computers-not the blokes.), they were playing a star trek type game, that wa it-I wanted a computer.
My secondary school was really well equipped in 1982-with a load of model b's and a couple of Research machines 380z's. irony upon irony- nobody was allowed to use them as there were no qualified teachers available to perform the required teaching duties.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by merman » Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:39 am

BBC at primary school.

The secondary school I was at near Cambridge first had a computer room full of Amstrad PCs, then we got given a full suite of Acorn Archinedes and a network direct from Acorn.
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by flatapex » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:49 pm

well.....i was at primary school from about 85 to 92

earliest computer memory was a bbc micro which was seen as some sort of electric powered treasure, in the early 90s there was some sort of acorn archimedes junk which was seen as some sort of advanced futuristic piece of sci-fi. I wasnt impressed we had a compaq 286 deskpro at home and I was able to play space quest, mach 3, world class leader board and battle chess.

Started high school in 92, bbc's were being phased out, the a320 was king, and we found it hilarious, everyone did apart from the i.t teacher of course. If it wasnt for my parents buying a pentium 100 pc running windows 95 circa 1996-97 I would never have learned how to use proper computers. Had to do my i.t gcse coursework on building custom systems for commericial use using Acorn based software.

I think I was labelled a trouble maker for daring to say Fireworks was about a decade behind WordPerfect and being able to give reasons why :lol: then we got windows 95 and I wrote the entire assignment on microsoft office about using programmes that were alternatives to microsoft office (set the tone for my adult life with computers, am using linux as we speak)

Off to college in 97, I was a travel and tourism student, started off using such delights as windows 3.1 and netscape navigator,we had to do i.t key skills, I was the only one on the course with an i.t gcse and knowledge of windows 95 which was newly installed, we had 30 of us trying to learn i.t, the tutor didnt stand a chance, half the room just asked me. I was a bloke learning travel and tourism, it was a great way for women to learn my name (they soon forgot it though)

At uni I cant remember what they had, we used outlook for the first time, never used it as email was only accessable on the uni network so we used webmail, I was nerdy and alternative as I had a talk21 account in 2001, didnt last long there as they were all idiots

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by Liamh1982 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:39 pm

Primary - Beebs of course (well, one Beeb that got wheeled about to different classrooms). Only one piece of software I can really remember - a bunch of fairy tales which you could have the ol' Micro read out in synthesised speech (not as cool as Speech! though cos you couldn't type out your own words and get it to say "bum") or even print them out with pictures - IN FULL COLOUR! Extravagant stuff in 1988...

Secondary - Mostly Archies with the usual mix of edutainment stuff (including quite a good maths/logic one set in a haunted house) and "last week of term" games (Lemmings, Sensi, Zarch).
Geography class hung on to a couple of Beebs (even in my last year - 1998! :shock: ), one that just got dragged out to play arcade clones - Asteroids, Frogger and Galaxian mostly. The other however had the LaserDisc unit. The teacher had only two discs - one a virtual tour of Brecon, the other showing clips representing events of the years 1980-86.

IT labs - when I started they had 386s running DOS but eventually upgraded to 486s with Windows 95.

But the two pride and joys were to be found in the library.
First, a Pentium PC with CD-ROM and (incredibly limited even by mid-90s standards) internet access. The other, a top of the line Mac that had no educational use whatsoever save for a bit of word processing. 95% of use went on Myst, Wolfenstein and a compulsive puzzle game that I can only describe as Kuru Kuru Kururin-meets-Slitherlink.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by MattyC64c » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:28 am

Liamh1982 wrote:Primary - Beebs of course (well, one Beeb that got wheeled about to different classrooms).
Yeah, I think my primary school was like that. I think they had about three to four computers total, even when I finished there in 1990. In the early days there may have only been one or two. It was a special day when a 'beeb' was available to use in your class.

There was this one teacher in primary who was very into computers at the time and had access to quite a few programs. I have no idea if he purchased them or the school did. What do remember is that he would load some up occasionally and we would all sit around the computer as a group and join in. Luckily, the games were on floppy, so loading wasn't an issue. They were adventure games, but I have no memory of what they were called now. The only BBC game I do recall was a clone of the classic frogger game. We didn't play that as a group though.

Another computer I recall from my primary school days was a machine I saw in a one off event. I remember the class went to some type road safety event where I came face to face with the most powerful machine I had ever seen at the time. The year was probably early 1990. Looking back retrospectively, I assume it must have been one of the Archimedes models. However this particular machine was armed with what must have been a laser disc player.

The educational 'game' they showed us was all about crossing the road safely. It was interactive, with different outcomes to the various scenarios. I was 11 or 12 at the time and I remember being very impressed with this technology as I'd never seen a computer that could play full screen video like that before.

Anyone else remember a machine like this? Do you know what it was?

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by ootini » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:14 am

Primary school we used the Apple iie. We had 3 or 4 of them and they where used for Logo mainly. I am guessing about '85 or so. We were given free access to them for a period of time once a week a few years later, and we used them mainly for Lemonade and Fraction fever. There used to be the odd fight over fraction fever as it was a pretty cool educational game. Always hated logo though cos we had no plotter or real turtle to draw on the floor with and it usually just involved a teacher, who was clueless anyway, telling you a list of commands to put in to make the turtle draw a line. By the time we'd all done that the class would be over.

Secondary began with Commodore 128s, which were pretty cool cos they taught us BASIC. Due to the built in Sprite editor we were taught how to make sprites move and collide, control etc. Always a bit of fun. They were replaced by PC's though round 94/95 and we got MS office classes instead - I still despise XL with a passion to this day. - I remember the Marquee screen savers were always comments about certain teachers sexual preferences and the like.

Also in secondary we had 2 Apple macs with a plotter and CAD for technical drawing. I never got near the things. They sat in the corner of the room for the first 4 years and then they were packed away into a storage cupboard. The only people I ever saw getting time on them were the toady students who were on rugby team the tech drawing teacher coached.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by greenberet79 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:41 am

Don't remember using a computer in primary, but in Juniors (1986-1990) we had BBCs - about 15 of them in the Computer Room. For some reason the computer room had no windows and seemed to be in almost total darkness all of the time,like a bunker. I mostly remember playing Frogger, and what a treat it was! I remember it like it was yesterday.

In secondary (1990-1997) we had Archimedes. I missed a couple of lessons and was then always behind and totally lost. Unfortunately the teacher (Mr Morgan) was a lunatic and not in a good way. Total psycho - I feared IT and if it wasnt for my trusty SPeccy at home I probably wouldn't have been into computing at all. Funny - the school was knocked down a couple of years ago and it had an open day - I went into the IT room and thought how stupid that some teachers ruin the education experience (as of course do a lot of kids). Education is defintely wasted on the young.

We did play Lemmings and Majong sometimes though.
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by Katzkatz » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:07 pm

Primary school - The BBC - well one of them. I remember we played a few educational games on them. One was a sort of adventure where you had to collect dragons' eggs.

Secondary school -

I.T. - The mighty RM Nimbus. Those "Smile" games. Plus, using "Write" to word process. There was an early version of Word for MS-DOS on there. That got used sometimes. I think there was a spreadsheet program called "Calc". The DTP program was "Caxton Press" and that had a lovely Egyptian font for the headlines, as one of the options. There was also Paintbrush by ZSoft. Lots of fun with that. I think there was some database program for the RM machines as well. I also remember some "Teletext type" multimedia program that we used once. There was also BASIC and Pascal on there. I think that we only programmed in BASIC once with the "Hello World" program. There were about 20 machines hooked up in one room. Sometimes a 21 inch CRT with a VGA port was used for demonstrations in the room. One of the PCs was used for the colour dot matrix printer. The rest were hooked up to the black and white one. There were about another 20 machines in the Business Studies room right next door. One of the machines had a 3.5 inch floppy and was used for the GCSE retakes, and they were also allowed to make use of the colour inkjet printer in there. I always remember that the hard drive used to get full up very quickly. You could also go into other year groups accounts via Paintbrush. Hehehehehe.

Music room - There was an Atari ST with a mono monitor in there. It was meant to be used with MIDI and a keyboard. There was some music software on there. I seem to remember that the music notes on it didn't scroll well or something like that. The machine got little used. The teacher didn't really understand about computers.

CDT block - There were about 10 Archimedes in there. All with monitors. They were hooked up via printer switch boxes to about 4 black and white dot matrix printers. There was one colour plotter(with pens) that you could use. There was some word processing program on floppy which we used and also the CAD program. As well as getting a couple of game demos. Lemmings and so on. LOL.

Sixth form college -

There were RM Nimbuses but this time they were 286s or 386s. Connected via RM net. You could use DOS and Windows as well. You were allowed to make use of 720 Kb floppies. MS Works were on there. MS Word, Turbo Pascal, Turbo C.

The following year it got a massive upgrade. 486s and this time using OS/2 for networking. You booted straight into Windows, but were allowed DOS access. You could also use 1.44 Mb floppies. MS Word 2.0 and 6.0 for Windows were now on there, as was Excel and Access. I think WordPerfect for DOS was on there. There was also Sage Accounts. There was also some sort of vector based drawing program which I used a lot for flow charts.

In the library, there was a multimedia room. There was a Multimedia PC with a CDROM(which used caddies for the CDs). It had a soundcard in it. There was also a CDi in there. That got used for the Encyclopedias and so on.

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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by oldtimer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:54 pm

When i was at school,there were no real school PCs, we used to write flow charts then programs in basic,then it was sent off to the local university and we used to get a print out ....that was it.

Computer club consisted of mucking around with Texas calculators making words on em ESSOOIL SHELLOIL etc
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Re: Computers in education experiences

Post by Andy L » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:05 am

I was at primary school from 1987-1994. All we had were maybe 2 or 3 BBC Masters on trolleys that were wheeled to our classroom as and when needed. I remember spending some time with Logo and using it to control the turtle but that was pretty much the limit of our interaction with technology. The school got an Acorn Archimedes in my final year there, pretty much the same time as my dad bought one (an A3010) for me at home.

In secondary school, we had a room full of Acorn computers with a server, all connected via Econet. I remember bringing loads of floppies in to copy the software and clip art for my home machine and stuffing them in my blazer pockets! That was replaced a few years later by an RM network but my school wasn't the progressive type to integrate IT/computing with other subjects sadly. Anything I learned about computers was all picked up at home!

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