Wednesday, May 31, 2017

--- Learning on a computer ---


Computers are excellent platforms for learning. By its very nature a computer is multimedia and can engage most of the senses in the learning experience (they haven't hooked smell and taste in yet and maybe that's a good thing). Throw in a portable computer in the form of a smartphone or tablet and the learning goes with you.

I  can look up practically anything on the Internet and my digital library is enormous - there are public libraries without the resources I have on my desk.

Before I retired and moved to Denver, I found digital copies of all the books in my large library that I could and digitized audio tapes that I had made. There are a lot of sources on the Internet for digital books. Websites like the Gutenberg project ( and the Internet Archive ( provide access to a breathtaking array of books, software, audio, and video in the public domain. There are booksellers that provide digital versions of more recent works but many embed security code (DRM) in their products so they can only be viewed on their own software - the product, in effect, belongs to them and you buy the ability to see it. The Calibre Ebook management system, a free download, has a function that allows you to search the Internet for books and will alert you to the presence of security code in the books.

Calibre lets you maintain a home digital library and provides a reader for most ebook formats. It has a lot of features. If you want to check it out, the website is: .

Another powerful learning technique is programming. If you can tell a computer how to do something, you really understand it because computers require very exact instructions. I'll be showing you some programming techniques later.

Again, computers can connect you very intimately with the thing you are learning about. When I was first getting into computers, if you wanted to connect a sensor to a computer, you had to build the interface, which was fun, but if you made a mistake, you ruined an expensive computer. Now, you can connect a desktop, laptop, portable, or smartphone computer to all kinds of stuff - thermometers, spectroscopes, telescopes, microscopes, electrocardiograms - the list is endless because it keeps growing.

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