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Re: Nov. meeting with Squeak team--call for discussion
Sometime last week, Doug asked the list for input on Squeak in education as
support for my November meeting with Alan Kay and the Squeak developers. The
feedback I got was basically an assignment list, that is, suggestions about
other products I should take a look at in preparation for the meeting. The
union list, from several sources, included MetaCard, HyperStudio, SuperCard,
HyperCard, Smalltalk, Macromedia Director, some version of Logo, Digital
Chisel, PowerPoint, and perhaps some others I'm forgetting at this moment.
While this advice is very helpful, it is also, to put it plainly,
unrealistic. I do intend to get very familiar with Squeak itself in
preparation for this meeting, but I simply cannot do the same for a half
dozen or more other languages and applications as well ... I just don't have
that much time to devote to preparing for this one meeting.
Product comparisons like the ones suggested have to rely on the collective
judgment and experience of this group, not one member doing a long series of
comparative evaluations. I might be able to look selectively at one or two
other products -- preferably ones that come in Linux versions -- but
deciding now where to start with this would be guesswork. For others (e.g.,
HyperCard, PowerPoint), I'll need to rely on my now-dated experience with
the products on other platforms.
So I'd like to ask those of you who are ACTUALLY USING Squeak, Logo,
MetaCard, HyperStudio, Smalltalk, etc., in educational settings, or who have
actually considered doing so for particular projects or activities, to spend
some time reflecting on and then recounting your experiences with the
products. To get you started, I'd like to read about the following:
1. What product you are using, and what you are using it for? If you
considered alternatives and rejected them, why?
2. The strengths and weaknesses of the product in actual use. Please
remember I'm not an educator by training, so include some discussion of the
pedagogical logic behind your judgment of sstrengths and weaknesses.
3. If you are using the product on an OS other than Linux, what benefits you
would see from porting it to Linux. Would you actually switch to a linux
version if one were available? Available but not free (in price or as Open
Source, but be clear about which one you mean)?
4. If you are using the product on Linux, was that a first choice or a
compromise? For example, is there a different product you would have chosen
if a Linux version had been available? Available but not free (in price or
as Open Source, but be clear about which one you mean)?
I'd welcome other kinds of feedback as well, whatever you think is useful
from your experience. But at this point, I really need to hear from people
with two kinds of input:
-- actual experiences using Squeak or its (sort of) competitors.
-- actual projects that people would be interested in
implementing with Squeak (or a competitor), and what's
I apologize if this sounds pushy or insistant. I am beginning to get nervous
about the upcoming meeting, and Doug's more genteel requests for discussion
don't really convey the urgency of my need for concrete advice.
I want to do a good job of conveying to the team the needs of educators, but
I myself am no longer working in education -- I'm basically an unemployed
applications programmer -- so I need a good deal of input from teachers who
are actually using computers if I am to pull this off at all well.
I'd also welcome company at the meeting, especially company from a teacher.
------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
Ray Olszewski -- Han Solo
Palo Alto, CA firstname.lastname@example.org