What's a computer?

staknhalo

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https://www.theverge.com/22684730/students-file-folder-directory-structure-education-gen-z

FILE NOT FOUND​

A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans


Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist, started seeing the problem in 2017. She was teaching an engineering course, and her students were using simulation software to model turbines for jet engines. She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.

Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved — they didn’t understand the question.

Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.
 

SvenBent

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its a general issue as we try to hide technical details to make things look more nice, people are unaware of how things work.

Hidding file extension in windows. People cant rename a file extenion now or see the difference of a document and a executable file that just have the icon of a document.
Email client are hiding email address and just showing display names . People are no unable to verify if the email address is legit.
 
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Aurelius

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This is at once great and terrible.

Great because, for many tasks, you shouldn't need to know where everything is located. It's a testament to the improving ease of use in technology. We shouldn't want people to have to navigate file systems; computing isn't supposed to be a masochistic affair where you get a kick out of making things painful.

At the same time, you should have at least a basic grasp of what a file system is and where files might be found. I look at it like a calculator: yes, it's great to make life easier, but you should still understand some math.
 

Youn

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c324392653694ec4d9a1a3eddf81dad3.jpg
 

clockdogg

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This is at once great and terrible.

Great because, for many tasks, you shouldn't need to know where everything is located. It's a testament to the improving ease of use in technology. We shouldn't want people to have to navigate file systems; computing isn't supposed to be a masochistic affair where you get a kick out of making things painful.
Yes we do. If you're not learning the [H]ard way you're not learning THE [H]ard way.
At the same time, you should have at least a basic grasp of what a file system is and where files might be found. I look at it like a calculator: yes, it's great to make life easier, but you should still understand some math.
Agree. Math is useful for figuring out how you were so gouged by your wireless provider. Well... math plus chaos marketing theory.
 

Dan_D

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I think the issue is that the people who grew up with smartphones and tablets don't know how to use traditional computers because those devices can do the vast majority of what you'd need aside from playing AAA computer games. These kids are supposed to be comfortable with technology and all that, but they are as close to knowing how to use a computer as kids in my day were. Older generations thought we were more comfortable with technology, which was true but being a kid who could do things like hook up the VCR and stereo didn't make me a computer technician or programmer.

1cf.jpg
 

OutOfPhase

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My kids in college are pleased others did not learn fundamentals.

<SMUGNESS INTENSIFIES>

Edit: fun aside, kinda being serious. They also learned The New Stuff(tm), but they can also trace it back to transistors. They hated me at the time...
 

ManofGod

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It is more than the file / folder structure that they do not understand. In my opinion, they do not understand the basic function of how the computers work and these are the people we are relying upon to keep planes in the air? LOL! :O
 

ManofGod

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This is at once great and terrible.

Great because, for many tasks, you shouldn't need to know where everything is located. It's a testament to the improving ease of use in technology. We shouldn't want people to have to navigate file systems; computing isn't supposed to be a masochistic affair where you get a kick out of making things painful.

At the same time, you should have at least a basic grasp of what a file system is and where files might be found. I look at it like a calculator: yes, it's great to make life easier, but you should still understand some math.

You should have to know where you files are located, it is not difficult to understand. However, if this is how kids are learning to do things now, I weep for the future.
 

cybereality

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It's sad, but it makes sense. I mean, most phones these days don't even come with a file browser, you have to download a third party one, and most of the time you will never need it.

But this is not some middle school programming class, these are college students trying to go for advanced careers. At the very least they should know what a file and a folder is. It's not actually that complicated.

Even with modern phones, files and folders are still a thing (as are on Google Drive, etc.). I mean, these kids can know how to download an image from Twitter and it saves somewhere, right? Or do they never save anything?

Like when you take a photo with your phone, they can understand it is saving something on their phone. And if they want to see the photo, they open the Camera app and maybe there is a grouping for a recent trip, or for their birthday or something.

Maybe I'm just old, it's hard for me to understand how someone (a college student, even) doesn't comprehend what a file is.
 

ManofGod

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It's sad, but it makes sense. I mean, most phones these days don't even come with a file browser, you have to download a third party one, and most of the time you will never need it.

But this is not some middle school programming class, these are college students trying to go for advanced careers. At the very least they should know what a file and a folder is. It's not actually that complicated.

Even with modern phones, files and folders are still a thing (as are on Google Drive, etc.). I mean, these kids can know how to download an image from Twitter and it saves somewhere, right? Or do they never save anything?

Like when you take a photo with your phone, they can understand it is saving something on their phone. And if they want to see the photo, they open the Camera app and maybe there is a grouping for a recent trip, or for their birthday or something.

Maybe I'm just old, it's hard for me to understand how someone (a college student, even) doesn't comprehend what a file is.

All this really means is, that an IT professional, I have job security.
 

Red Falcon

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I think the issue is that the people who grew up with smartphones and tablets don't know how to use traditional computers because those devices can do the vast majority of what you'd need aside from playing AAA computer games. These kids are supposed to be comfortable with technology and all that, but they are as close to knowing how to use a computer as kids in my day were. Older generations thought we were more comfortable with technology, which was true but being a kid who could do things like hook up the VCR and stereo didn't make me a computer technician or programmer.
This is really the bottom line, with Gen X and Gen Y being at the core of using modern systems, and to a lesser extent the Boomer generation.
Gen Z has nearly only grown up with mobile and touch devices, and while that is fine for day-to-day and casual activities, it is hardly enough for the average technical tasks in a workplace.

Newer students over the last decade, who are now in their 20s, don't know how to use keyboards (they literally can't type at all because they've only used touch screens), don't know how to use a mouse, and try touching the monitor to perform tasks.
They also think using smartphones and tablets are enough for the average office job, and forget fax machines (almost a legal requirement for nearly all corporate and government offices) or VoIP phones, they don't even understand the concept.

I used to laugh at other people my age and younger who couldn't use a rotary phone (they were long obsolete by that point), but now it just makes me sad to see the average 20-something not know how to use a standard touchtone phone.
Something something dark cyberpunk future... :borg:

8d47f705802e3aa837d16807a1d53df9.png
 

Red Falcon

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It's sad, but it makes sense. I mean, most phones these days don't even come with a file browser, you have to download a third party one, and most of the time you will never need it.
Android OS does come with a file browser builtin, but iOS/iPadOS does not.
The Corporatism is strong with Apple, but then again, isn't Apple the megacorp that originally pushed the whole "What's a computer?" ad campaign for their iPad Pro back in 2017?



So Apple pushed this in 2017, and 2017 was when professors started to notice this issue, hmmm... :whistle:
 

staknhalo

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Android OS does come with a file browser builtin, but iOS/iPadOS does not.
The Corporatism is strong with Apple, but then again, isn't Apple the megacorp that originally pushed the whole "What's a computer?" ad campaign for their iPad Pro back in 2017?



So Apple pushed this in 2017, and 2017 was when professors started to notice this issue, hmmm... :whistle:


Gee, I *looks at post title* wonder why *looks at post title* no one *looks at post title* referenced that *looks at post title* before?

Edit: iOS has had a native file browser now for a little bit though FYI
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I've been saying this forever. The Apple-fication of devices have produced a generation where the average kid is a completely tech illiterate moron.

Ask them to do anything more than swipe right or swipe left and you get a blank stare. "why are you making this so hard?"

It is absolutely infuriating. I've hated this about the era of mobile from the very start in 2007. To me they dumbed the devices down so much that they were borderline unusable, but to this new generation that grew up on them this is now the norm, and it makes my brain hurt.

I hope - for the love of god - this is seen as a sign that they need to educate kids on these basic concepts, not as a sign that "everything needs to be dumbed down", because that might just make me finally snap and go postal.

For decades each generation was more and more tech literate than the generation preceding it. Now we are going in the opposite direction. These kids are no better at using computers than your grandparents were.
 

auntjemima

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My girls had zero interest in using a PC growing up. Now they are in college and if I asked them where they saved a file, they wouldn't have a clue.

I tried, numerous times, to convince them to learn and no bueno. The boys were all for it and can do some pretty advanced things within windows and Linux.

It seems to me, at least from watching the boys vs the girls, the girls aren't interested because it's "nerdy" and there is a negative connotation for girls to use computers. Their friends are the no different.

Shame, it's only going to handicap them later on.
 

staknhalo

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It seems to me, at least from watching the boys vs the girls, the girls aren't interested because it's "nerdy" and there is a negative connotation for girls to use computers. Their friends are the no different.

That's no different than since forever really. Just something girls/females writ large never had an interest in.
 

Dk975

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A story about the dumbing down of the world. Young people can't even use a computer and know anything about file folders and where to save things. We might as well have AI and robots just build the turbines for the jet engines. The problem is who will be smart enough to program the AI until it can be self aware and doesn't need humans?
 

auntjemima

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That's no different than since forever really.
My 9 year old isn't like this at all, luckily. She's nearly at the level I am and I've been learning on PC's since DOS. Like a little savant.

To put this into perspective, my mother, who is nearly 60, can use a PC, competently. Can locate files, edit configurations, solve technical issues.

All anecdotal, of course.
 

Whalter12

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I use a program call Legendary for installing and running games from the Epic store without the Epic launcher. I joined the discord channel a week or two ago after getting a strange error. Legendary is a command line interface program. After seeing the help requests in discord I am not surprised by this article at all.
 

LukeTbk

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That's no different than since forever really. Just something girls/females writ large never had an interest in.
Apparently there was a shift when they focused gaming on them:

Was always more male heavy, but woman share of computer science student in 1982 was almost the double than the 2010s and it was has common for woman to go in computers than law or medical school, not special at all. My mother did learn the punched card computer back in the day.

Has for the folder it is something we started to say-remark has soon has 2010 I think, that you could see a shift among the younger coming up way to use folders structure and I saw it around 2015 or so at work the new young putting everything on the Desktop (or the other default proposed location that came up) with very little (virtually no) structure.

You should have to know where you files are located, it is not difficult to understand. However, if this is how kids are learning to do things now, I weep for the future.
It seem that you can get by quite a bit without having to know, for the few program young people use that ever explicitly ask you to save-load they propose you a nice default location.

I feel there is a bit of an exaggeration that they know about file and folder (having used google drive or what not at some point) not just fully where they happen to be or that being somewhere that is not simply where the application default folder they do not know, but maybe it is even worst than that.
 

M76

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The real sad part is that MS is encouraging or even forcing people to forget directories and local folders, in all their software. You have to go out of your way if you want to access the regular browse dialog in current office software. And windows has been hiding the downloads / users documents for many years under hidden and not easily browsable locations. Not to mention the windows store that deliberately makes non-user accessible folders for apps.
 

michalrz

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Playing dumbass' advocate a bit: Some of it I'd attribute to software makers making "odd" decisions, sometimes to maintain compatibility. %Appdata% is a bit of a mess if you don't know what 'roaming' is, for example.

Say you work on a document that likes to keep its working data in appdata, in the corresponding program's subdirectory. Few will venture there, instead, they'll go for the desktop first, some will go to my documents.
I've seen the 'smart' ones try the search function, only for it to display 'recent files' links.

We have things changing over time and developer inconsistency. There's a point of confusion beyond which the average user is no longer interested in learning and gets frustrated.

Even back in the XP days, (IMHO not in 95/98 days) the only solution supposed IT people knew was to mostly 'format c:'. And then they'd launch their D drive and the autorun.inf malware would re-install itself :D

I'd say it's the general methodology people have in life that is lacking. Whenever I need to use a new tool, I do so top-down. After installation, I at least check what's in the menus, and the file->new stage is usually the last one. I like to be ready at that point.

So - I think this is about the clash between people who genuinely want to know how to fish and people who act as lake gatekeepers not letting you use lures.
 

M76

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These kids are supposed to be comfortable with technology and all that, but they are as close to knowing how to use a computer as kids in my day were.
The difference is that in our day we wanted to know. Now they don't give a toss about how things work and how dare you even suggest that they should learn.
 

Wat

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This kind blends in with windows 10 and 11 dumbing down the user interface.
 

Nafensoriel

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We had a student roll through the company pre covid who could absolutely use their phone with stunning skill but when we asked them to enter data into an excel sheet it blew their mind.
When we probed a little further we discovered the kid only knew how to use the phone. He had absolutely zero understanding of how it worked on any level(physics, electrical, etc)

There is a phenomenon called the utopia principle where society only functions at the level required to maintain itself. What we are seeing right now with our kids is a physical example of this.
By the time millennials are dead, most people will only understand how to use the technology in their daily lives. Very few future humans will understand WHAT that technology is. Worse now since we have gone past crude and precise tools and are now entering into specialized tool territory.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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The example in the article was on from an engineering class on how to design jet engines...

The important question is this:

Would you want to take a flight in a plane equipped with a jet engine designed by someone who doesn't even know how to navigate a computers file/folder system?
 

Armenius

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I think the issue is that the people who grew up with smartphones and tablets don't know how to use traditional computers because those devices can do the vast majority of what you'd need aside from playing AAA computer games. These kids are supposed to be comfortable with technology and all that, but they are as close to knowing how to use a computer as kids in my day were. Older generations thought we were more comfortable with technology, which was true but being a kid who could do things like hook up the VCR and stereo didn't make me a computer technician or programmer.

1cf.jpg
Funny thing is, I used to jokingly be poked at for not having a "smart" phone for such a long period of time because I am considered a "tech wizard" by my peers. I would tell them that was exactly the reason why I held out on getting one for so long. The only reason I bought a "smart" phone in the end was because the screen broke on my old flip phone and didn't want to go through the pain of trying to replace it.

There are probably people like me who were born on the edge of the transition into "easy" electronics and have experience with both. I only know what I do because I took interest in what my dad was doing when he first brought home a laptop to work from home in the very early 1990s and was fascinated by what I watched him do. I learned what I could from him so I would be able to play games in DOS and Windows 3.11 without his supervision once he finally bought our first PC for the home. It just blossomed from there to learning all I could about how PCs work, what makes the operating system function, and eventually leading to how to code. These days people don't need to know about rebooting into DOS and properly setting your configuration at boot to be able to play games. These days you just click install and away you go. No reading documentation ahead of time to find out how to install. And if you do run into an issue nobody knows how to troubleshoot it themselves.
 

Dan_D

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I was late to the smart phone trend. Partially because I hadn't developed a desire to do anything but call people with my phone. It was also out of the desire to for a standard to emerge. I remember the smart phones that were neither iPhone, Windows Phone nor Android. LG and a few other companies had them. I didn't want to buy into anything until there was something that would move forward. My girlfriend got an Android phone after they'd been out a while and then I finally bit the bullet on one myself.
 

serpretetsky

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The example in the article was on from an engineering class on how to design jet engines...

The important question is this:

Would you want to take a flight in a plane equipped with a jet engine designed by someone who doesn't even know how to navigate a computers file/folder system?
since jet engines dont run on files and folders i guess i dont really care. I just don't understand how they get work done.
 

auntjemima

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The real sad part is that MS is encouraging or even forcing people to forget directories and local folders, in all their software. You have to go out of your way if you want to access the regular browse dialog in current office software. And windows has been hiding the downloads / users documents for many years under hidden and not easily browsable locations. Not to mention the windows store that deliberately makes non-user accessible folders for apps.
How is the downloads and user folder not obvious? How is it "hidden"? Do you have something to back this up? The folders are not hidden and they are more logical than ever in Windows 10 and beyond.

C:\users\your_name\

There are the folders you seek. To top this off, if I open ANY folder, from the desktop, a specific drive or the Win + E for the explorer (which has been the same since I can remember), you get all of the folders you mentioned RIGHT THERE. How can they be hidden when they are there, visible in every windows, all the time?

It isn't a cause of MS at all, but without you Linux boys here to disrupt, we might have a coherent discussion without dragging it into "XYZ company is at fault".

Personally, I think technology has caused it. The need for more information NOW without the need to know which folder it came from. I want pictures? I open pictures, for example. It is really a productivity help, while at the same time a drain on IT when things have become so dumbed down that people can no longer solve their very basic issues.
 
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