GIML: Introduction to using GIML

This document is in html - hyper text mark up language. html allows links to other resources on the internet however almost all of the links here are internal - that is they refer to other parts of the text. This document is basically linear however there are a few side branches (like this) which will take you to another part of the document. To return from such a branch use the back button on your browser.

How to use this document

It should be possible to copy text from the browser into another window. I usually work with three windows. The browser (such as Netscape) is the largest, another window has ML running and another has an editor. I typically will copy text from the browser into the editor where I will change it, then from the editor into the ML window to test it.

On my machine I can select text with the left mouse button and paste it with the middle mouse button - find out how to do it on yours.

Do you need to do the Diversions?

The diversions are important - real learning takes place when the student is engaged in problem solving, using ML as a tool. The diversions are beginnings of projects, if you are asking the question "how can I do this" you will remember the answer much more successfully than if you are presented with a list of techniques. Check out Mindstorms: children computers and powerful ideas by Semour Papert.

There is clearly no point in students slogging through diversions which hold no appeal for the individual.

Is this computer aided learning?

The intention is to produce a mildly interactive document, it should be compared to a text book rather than a CAL package.

CAL Rant

The user should have control at all times, you are not forced to go through the material in any particular order and you are expected to skip the dull bits and miss those exercises which are too easy for you. You decide. The author does not believe that CAL is a good way to learn. CAL is a cheap way to learn, the best way to learn is from an interactive, multi functional, intelligent, user friendly human being. The author does not understand how it is that we can no longer afford such luxuries as human teachers in a world that is teeming with under-employed talent. His main objection to CAL is that it brings us closer to "production line" learning. The production line is an invented concept, it was invented by capital in order to better exploit labour. The production line attempts to reduce each task in the manufacturing process to something so easy and mindless that anybody can do it, preferably anything. That way the value of the labour is reduced, the worker need not be trained and the capitalist can treat the worker as a replaceable component in a larger machine. It also ensures that the workers job is dull and joyless, the worker cannot be good at his or her job because the job has been designed to be so boring that it is not possible to do it badly or well, it can merely be done quickly or slowly. Production line thinking has given us much, but nothing worth the cost. We have cheap washing machines which are programmed to self destruct after five years; cars, clothes, shoes - all of our mass produced items have built in limited life spans - this is not an incidental property of the production line, it is an inevitable consequence.

The introduction of CAL is the attempt by capital to control the educators. By allowing robots to teach we devalue the teacher and make him or her into a replaceable component of the education machine. I do not see how such a dehumanizing experience can be regarded as "efficient", the real lesson learned by students is that students are not worth speaking to, that it is a waste of resources to have a person with them. The student learns that the way to succeed is to sit quietly in front of a VDU and get on with it. The interaction is a complete sham - you may go down different paths, but only those paths that I have already thought of, you can only ask those questions which I have decided to answer. You may not challenge me while "interacting". I want students to contradict, to question, to object, to challenge, to revolt, to tear down the old and replace with the new.

Do not sit quietly and work though this material like a battery student. Work with other people, talk to them, help each other out.