For our computer classes here at the IHF Bali Center we have long used an extensive curriculum consisting of a large number of exercises on Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Paint. These exercises are set up in such a way that the students can work on them individually in their own pace. Still, a teacher is of course needed in the classroom to help the students with things that they don’t know how to do (and to make sure that the students are actually studying, as opposed to playing computer games). I especially like these exercises as they motivate the students to try different things and to figure out creative solutions on their own, something that is an important lesson but somewhat new to the students. These exercises are cumulative and skills learnt early on are used again and again.
I must admit that some of our more advanced students have now because of diligent studies surpassed my abilities and there are several functions in these programs that our students are now more familiar with than I am. One girl in our SD6 computer class, Neva, completed all exercises on Microsoft Word quite quickly and is now far ahead of her fellow students. As Neva has completed the section on Word and all other students in her class are still working on these exercises I have enlisted Neva to be my teacher assistant until her fellow classmates catches up. The first couple of classes I think Neva taught it was unfair and wished that she could join her friends but I am proud to say that Neva has really grown with the responsibilities. She is helping out her friends alongside me and I must say that she is better at it than I am. I also think it has been a valuable lesson for the other students to be taught by friend. The students now see that if you study hard you can accomplish great things, and they also have a greater understanding for what it is to be a teacher as Neva shares her frustrations and joys with her friends. Sometimes the greatest things we learn are not from a curriculum.
The computer classes are generally a great success and they only cloud on the sky is unreliability of these old computers that have a tendency to break down from time to time. I do wish that we would have more computers so that we could accept more students in to our computer classes, but you can’t have it all!