“It's like a giant brain with a keyboard”

Title“It's like a giant brain with a keyboard”
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsRobertson J, Manches A, Pain H
Abstract

In a qualitative study, a follow up to a similar study conducted 30 year previously, we asked children aged between 5 and 8 about their knowledge and beliefs about computers. Although the children were insightful in their answers about the activities for which it might be appropriate to use technology, and willingly engaged with the thorny question of whether computers can think, their responses indicated a lack of a factual understanding of how computers work. Consequently, this paper argues that children should be taught basic information about how computers work because they will not become aware of this through regular exposure to technology. The paper offers some simple explanations of how computers work, and whether computers could think, which we hope will be of use to practitioners who wish to cover these topics in their classrooms.In a qualitative study, a follow up to a similar study conducted 30 year previously, we asked children aged between 5 and 8 about their knowledge and beliefs about computers. Although the children were insightful in their answers about the activities for which it might be appropriate to use technology, and willingly engaged with the thorny question of whether computers can think, their responses indicated a lack of a factual understanding of how computers work. Consequently, this paper argues that children should be taught basic information about how computers work because they will not become aware of this through regular exposure to technology. The paper offers some simple explanations of how computers work, and whether computers could think, which we hope will be of use to practitioners who wish to cover these topics in their classrooms.