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Interactive Learning Fails Reading Test

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the literasy-iznt-a-prublem dept.

Education 299

motivator_bob writes to tell us the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the latest craze of interactive computer software is actually hurting the education level rather than helping it. From the article: "Parents have also bought into the enthusiasm for technology, spending millions on educational computer games for their young. However, research published in the journal Education 3 to 13 has found that pupils who use interactive programs cannot remember stories they have just read because they are distracted by cartoons and sound effects."

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I'll say (5, Funny)

RedNovember (887384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432202)

I tried this out when I was a OOH SHINY!

Re:I'll say (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432385)

So true. What the hell is wrong with people? The written word isn't SUPPOSED to have SHINY MOVING NOISY stuff. It's just supposed to SIT THERE. It is not supposed to READ ITSELF TO YOU if it senses you're having trouble.

Re:I'll say (4, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432445)

RTFA. The program that read the story didn't cause problems. It was the program with the gratuituous animations that had nothing to do with the story that distracted kids from the story and caused a drop in comprehension.

I know from experience at a company that makes a very successful literacy program that a computer reading a stories to children and providing exercises in phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension can help children's reading and writing skills immensely. At that company, competing "edutainment" programs were dismissed as inferior, and this study proves that the "entertainment" portion just distracts kids away from the education part of the activity.

Re:I'll say (5, Insightful)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432477)

I tried this out when I was a OOH SHINY!
You're missing the fundamental point of the article, which is OOH SHINY!

Sorry, the point of the article is "We've got to sell papers by scaring you, and this is going to get your attention for the thirty seconds we've conditioned you to spend on a newspaper article that can't possibly do justice to the topic at hand."

On a serious note, ration access to the things. "Interactive" is not necessarily a good thing. You thought TV was bad for attention spans? You thought old-style video games were bad? Heh... use the right things at the right time, and in the right proportions. The problem is, many parents who wouldn't dream of letting their kids veg out in front of the television simply substitute one electronic babysitter for another.

Read to your kids, encourage them to read, let them play interactive titles like the Broderbund stuff assessed, and let them watch TV and DVDs. They all complement each other.

Reading to kids exposes them to material they wouldn't be able to access themselves because of the reading level required, but which they may well be able to understand - kids can generally listen and speak several years ahead of their reading level, and if they gain knowledge that there's all this interesting stuff in books and see adults reading they'll get interested in gaining the skills needed to read it themselves.

Interactive stuff makes for good reading-drills - it gets their attention and gets them practicing the skill, and they don't even know that they're doing it. Just don't expect them to be able to absorb a whole story in a single sitting. They're just not designed that way. They're frequently either non-linear, or have an overall linear progression that allows diversions along the way - that's deliberate, and is meant to enhance the long-term playability and make it easier to get the kids to repeat the practice reading exercises hidden as sets of directions or comments on objects or people. They're good for picking up related facts, but picking a narrative out of them could be difficult because the reader/player partially directs how things unfold rather than passively following a narrative that already exists. If they're related to other dead-tree materials, like the Little Monster title is, it could be a good way to get an interest in the related books too.

TV, videos and DVDs also allow some complex ideas to be presented if done right, and can encourage imagination and thought. I'm not talking about reruns of Magilla Gorilla... I think we all know what kind of crap has been on television... but there is a lot of stuff out there that can stretch the imagination, get kids thinking about moral and behavioural issues at an early age etc. Care Bears, good targetted kids sci-fi of the kind that our national broadcaster seems to show from time to time, kiddy documentary-style series and the like can help provide an interest in what's right and wrong and an interest in people and the world. We don't sit around reading the bible and Pears Cyclopedia to the family by gaslight any more, so the old "do unto others" and "things are interesting out there" messages aren't quite so common in everyday family activities these days - education is in some ways all about programming your kids to be the best people they can be, and their flexible and absorbent little minds will be shaped by what you expose them to, so look at this as an opportunity to expose them to new, interesting and challenging material rather than a way to keep them out of your hair while you watch the news.

As for purely entertaining interactive titles, like video games, they're not necessarily bad either. Reasoning, imagination, memory skills, attention to detail, cause-and-effect and the like are all things that their gameplay can rely on. They're all important life skills too.

Just because kids couldn't remember what they saw in the program the previous day is no reason to assume the technology is evil or bad for kids. TFA only identifies what's wrong with using interative stories exclusively, and suggests that parents and educators shouldn't abandon traditional reading and story-telling... it doesn't tell us anything about what kind of benefits can arise from their use as a supplementary activity, or from repeated use in that context. I'd be very interested to see what the original journal article has to say on the matter.

Re:I'll say (1)

artificialnews.com (942466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432498)

We complain and try to medicate our kids because they're so easily distracted, and then we place them in environments that encourage and enhance their distractibility.

Yeah, it's just one big conspiracy from the Drug companies :-)

No, but seriously, what it will end up doing is making the easily-distracted moreso and make the not-easily-distracted that much more so as well, making the later group (who would have already been in the productive group of society) more desirable as a business candidate and the former group (already at risk for being not as productive) even in a worse position.

Re:I'll say (4, Funny)

wmajik (688431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432550)

I tried this out when I was a OOH SHINY! Somewhere in the Army, someone is just now figuring out that chrome on the grenade pin might have been a bad idea...

Re:I'll say (3, Funny)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432552)

As someone with ADHD, I have to say that your comment is HEY LETS GO RIDE BIKES!

Eff Pee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432204)

KITTENS

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432219)

Put the things they need to remember into the songs and sound effects. My kids run around singing all the songs off those educational CD games.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Linegod (9952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432239)

What do you think the odds are that your kids know what they're singing? If your answer isn't 'slim to fucking none', look up the lyrics to any song you think you know, then try answering again.

Re:So what? (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432280)

This is the song that doesn't end...

Yes, it goes on and on my friend!

Some people started singing it
not knowing what they'd done,
and they'll continue singing it
forever just because...

This is the song that doesn't end...

(EVERYONE! [walmart.com] )

Re:So what? (1)

PacketScan (797299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432360)

OMG someone shoot me

Uh, (1)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432288)

i think what they need to know is how to read.

Kiki's gone into ferret-shock! (2, Funny)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432220)

And then made cartoons and sounds behind the couch. She was going to learn to read, but HEY, those clothes in the dryer want to play tag!

"enthusiams for technology" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432221)

aka laziness.

Insightful by Accident? (3, Insightful)

guaigean (867316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432632)

I don't know if the parent was a troll or not, but it does reach a very important point. At this stage of technology and instant gratification, many parents simply think it's easier to plop their kids down in front of a box (tv, computer, etc) and hope that it will give them the education that the kid needs. This way parents still have time for their own lives. The problem is that without true interaction there is a serious inability for children to learn. A computer can only answer questions which it has been programmed to answer, and children will inevitably ask that which a computer cannot answer. I'm no parent, so I open myself up willingly to the onslaught of "You don't have kids so you shouldn't speak", but I do know that a lot of my friends in the Nintendo generation (me) would be a lot better off had their parents sat down and taught them interactively rather than dosing them up with Ritalin and leaving the tv/computer/video game to the teaching.

Sounds a lot like... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432223)

... our beloved Slashdot "editors" !

It'll work itself out (0, Flamebait)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432236)

Issues like this will be resolved over time as the human mind adapts to constant distractions - already, we do more with our minds on a daily basis than humans of only a half-century ago. In the future I'm sure our children will be able to learn calculus while playing video games, chatting on their mobile communicators, and picking out their wardrobe for the following week.

Either that or the earth will drop to drastically lower free-floating oxygen levels and our brains will be so starved for precious O2 that we'll barely be able to string together four words ... me tarzan, you jane ...

Re:It'll work itself out (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432279)

Let it work itself out on your kids. I'll give mine a good book and personal attention.

Will it work itself out? (5, Insightful)

246o1 (914193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432298)

The human mind, while extremely adaptable, has some limitations that your rhetorical style overlooks. When you say that "the human mind" will adapt, what you are really saying is that human minds are able to deal with this level of distraction right now.

There is no time for evolution to help the human mind adapt, we're basically stuck at this point in evolution. There's a limit to what our hunter/gatherer/tinkerer primate brains can handle and still work efficiently, and that we can't pass our progress on to our children genetically to help them get past that limit.

I'd be inclined to argue that we, doing more at one time with our minds than people a century ago, are very likely functioning less efficiently in many ways, though the progress of technological tools to aid us has more than made up the difference, so far.

Are you sure about that? (2, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432326)

In the future I'm sure our children will be able to learn calculus while playing video games, chatting on their mobile communicators, and picking out their wardrobe for the following week.

What will be so different about our children and ourselves? I mean, are we going to genetically engineer them to be geniuses from day one or something? Because as far as I can tell, children receive genes from their parents and are pretty similar in intelligence (there is a correlation, although not 100%). So, what you're saying is that we're going to make an evolutionary jump in the next generation that will allow our children to learn what less than 20% of the world learns today, but in even more difficult conditions (playing video games)?

I'm just wondering, because I can't seem to understand what will be so different from now and then that will allow what you say to come true.

Re:Why I think this is bogus (1)

fleaboy (657517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432493)

TV attention spans! I'd say it's child abuse but since most everyone does it it's OK? In the words of a dear friend, "Humanity--You never cease to fail me!"

Re:It'll work itself out (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432555)

"already, we do more with our minds on a daily basis than humans of only a half-century ago."

A half a century ago, man was looking for cover, attempting to avoid being mowed down by an MG-42, thinking of how many rounds he had fired, thinking of how many clips he had remaining, listening to orders from his Sergeant, listening to others scream, providing covering fire, watching for flanking movements from the enemy and cautiously eying the sky for enemy planes.

I call bullshit on you and your 'theory', sir.

The idea that because you have an iPod, you're doing more with your mind, is utterly ridiculous.

Re:It'll work itself out (2, Interesting)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432568)

In the future I'm sure our children will be able to learn calculus while playing video games, chatting on their mobile communicators, and picking out their wardrobe for the following week.

Sadly the reality is that kids today don't learn half of what we did many many years ago. I was taught to read by my Dad. He used the book Robinson Crusoe to teach me. I seriously doubt that kids today read anything like that or would ever study calculus. They are to busy playing video games or listening to music. The kids today get most things handed to them with little effort on their part. Probably why a lot of the tech jobs are being exported overseas.

Intelligence in the universe is a constant. The population is growing. You do the math if you still can.

accelerated reader (5, Interesting)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432241)

When I was in middle school, my county had just bought some software called "accelerated reader". This had tests for basically every book you could find (...but you had to pay up the ass for each 10-question test). The school pressured the reading teachers into totally relying on this, and grading completely on our AR tests.

AR had you take a test at the beginning of the year to determine your "reading level", and it had a "reading level" for practically every book out there. Kids were intentionally doing poorly on the test so that they could read 2nd-grade level books. Because the kids were only graded on what they could take an AR test on, these kids were given high grades for reading books that did them absolutely no good (whereas only one other student and I were actually reading above the 7th grade level).

Sometimes, educational software (and software in the schools) can be useful, but the biggest problem is that it seems like we use computers for the sake of using computers, and not for the sake of learning. Despite the fact that AR was KILLING our reading classes, the administration demanded that we continue to use it simply so they could brag about their computer software.

Re:accelerated reader (5, Interesting)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432325)

I attended an 'experimental school' from fourth to sixth grade, back in 1967-70 (aprox.). It was an 'unstructured' 'classroom without walls' approach. We were using all the latest techniques, and the SRA learning modules. There was a great science cart with all kinds of stuff to experiment with. I got into electronics about that time, though mostly from my own exposure and exploration at home.

What they found out over a few years time was that the average performance of the pupils was about the same. But, looking closer, they discovered that motivated kids were learning MORE and the average kid was learning LESS. I remember spending long classroom hours making clay log cabins and such. The experience set me back severely in some areas but raced me forward in others. Within a few years of the time I attended the school, walls and much more structure had been added. It was viewed a failure.

I wish, in a way, that I had been given a regular education, though it's always hard to say what difference it might have made.

Re:accelerated reader (1)

amitola (557122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432357)

Sometimes, educational software (and software in the schools) can be useful, but the biggest problem is that it seems like we use computers for the sake of using computers, and not for the sake of learning.

More to the point, it seems like we use computers for the sake of transferring large amounts of money from parents and school budgets to hucksters and con artists. I used to work for a company that subcontracted for Leapfrog, which was at the time pushing to get their gimmicky talking-book machines into schools (maybe they still are, I don't know). Same crap, different decade.

Re:accelerated reader (5, Interesting)

jgc7 (910200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432412)

Despite the fact that AR was KILLING our reading classes, the administration demanded that we continue to use it simply so they could brag about their computer software.
I went through the same "accelerated reader" program except that the administrators my school did what the program suggested and required each student accumulate a certain number of points. The harder books rewarded students with more points requiring them to read fewer, and the slower students had to read more easy books forcing them to catch up. The scoring system created healty competition and without that program I surely would have never read Anna Karina in middle school. (It had the highest point value of any of the books on the list.)

Accellerate Me! (1)

artificialnews.com (942466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432554)

We need more of an encouragement to our kids to read. When I was younger (a.k.a. quite a long time ago) in first grade, they gave us all four books to choose to read from and I just happened to pick up the third grade book and just started reading because it was fun. So they put me in an advanced reading class (I went to the 2nd grade class for reading, and my class for everything else). But the reason that I was good at reading is because my parents taught me that reading was fun. Not because of any program.

All we really need is parental involvement and it won't matter what types of computer program or whatever that we're using. If we WANT to learn to read, we'll succeed. If we DON'T want to learn, we'll do what we can do read 2nd grade books when we're older, just like the kids in the parent post.

Re:accelerated reader (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432591)

This comment could apply to many pedogical methods. School systems could rely upon drills, not really accomplishing any higher level learning, thereby trying to prove that their system works through targeted assessment. It is absolutely correct that computers for computer's sake is really a disservice to both education and computers. But, as a developer of educational materials, not software, I believe that educational technology is on the verge of actually taking off in a useful way. The problem is not the software, but the methods surrounding the software or print products. Many things are highly educational but understanding how to use these tools is key. This is exactly where the web becomes useful to teachers.

When I was a kid, SRA had these boxes of materials, which I happened to like, not for determining whether my assessment level was too high or too low, but to get immediate feedback. I didn't want to do one; I wanted to do four. But class bored me out of my mind. Kids like potentially rewarding feedback, and punish severely negative feedback. Ask a parent!

Re:accelerated reader (1)

RandomPrecision (911416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432594)

Ah, AR was an amusing one. Our school library didn't happen to have any '13+' books, so I actually had to take the AR list and get books from either a public library or bookstore to fulfill the requirements.

I think they still use it in a lot of schools in my area, unfortunately.

accelerated typing-Mavis Beacon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432601)

"Sometimes, educational software (and software in the schools) can be useful, but the biggest problem is that it seems like we use computers for the sake of using computers, and not for the sake of learning."

So how do you feel about typing programs?

Or even programs like this [gtpcc.org] ?

Re:accelerated reader (1)

empvirus (881998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432605)

I went to Marysville Middle school in Marysville Washington and my experience was similar. You see, at the end of a trimester, we had to have a certain amount of points to get a good grade on that (which was about 20% of our reading grades). The only difference was that the test you mentioned was only a suggestion tool. Alot of the kids read tons of small 3rd-4th grade books to get the points whereas I read a few novels. The harder a book was to read, the more points would be rewarded for completing it.

Education is not Entertainment (3, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432243)

Education requires focus and concentration.

Entertainment amuses and distracts.

Education is not and cannot be entertainment.

It's a dangerous fad, I think ultimately brought on by the entertainment power of TV; children can be so involved in TV it's hard to get them to focus on education, so the idea arrives that if the TV can be used for education...

However, entertainment is fundamentally antagonistic to education.

Everything education is, entertainment is not.

Neil Postman wrote about this in "Amusing Ourselves to Death", a book which inspired Roger Waters epochial album, "Amused to Death"; a recommended read and a recommended listen.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (3, Insightful)

jp25666 (620034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432350)

I can't speak for everyone, but I find education quite entertaining. There are times where I'll be reading Wikipedia for hours, engrossed in all the stuff there is to read about.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (0, Troll)

DroppedPacket (621464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432480)

*Bzzt* Wikipedia is to be use as an entertainment device only. Any similarity between Wikipedia and real facts, living or dead, is strictly accidental.

After all, if they really were facts, you wouldn't be able to change them. :-)

Re:Education is not Entertainment (3, Insightful)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432434)

Ah. I read Amusing Ourselves To Death for summer reading this past summer. It was indeed a good look at what newer, more "glitzy" forms of media have done to the basic ways we communicate information. One example was television news: In "olden times," you would get your news from a local newspaper, and it tended to be things relevant to you personally, or to people you knew around the neighborhood. But now that we have satellite links and the ability to basically broadcast video to everyone's houses from anywhere in the world, news has become much less personal. It sounds ironic, but Postman said that, basically, habitually seeing news from other places that doesn't affect us, makes us want our news in little "packages" that have no relation to the real world. We want to hear what's going on in the world, not just the much smaller set of things that is actually important to us.

I've gotta say, I find most educational games ridiculous as education. I see no problem with educational games as a type of entertainment, but to replace "real" classroom education with crap like that is just asking for trouble. I have no trouble with people bringing lots of technology in the classroom, as long as its use is warranted and based in reality, not marketing. I can see a type of application that, instead of replacing a teacher's teaching, simply assists with small things. Something that spots and tells students about little careless mistakes in math problems (but requires them to fix them), something that functions as a dictionary for foreign language classes, and possibly something of a grammar reference... basically an electronic reference and person-hovering-over-your-shoulder-helping, not an electronic textbook and teacher.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (1)

fleaboy (657517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432535)

I recently, 2001, started taking classes for an associate degree(originally Psychology) and was horrified when in the text for a Sociology class a concept of a human communication model was based on a frickin' TV show. I admit I had been out of the loop of education for quite some time but stuff like this does a lot to explain the current climate of this country and the Corporations who are running it.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (1)

joe_adk (589355) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432538)

I always thought Sesamie Street was entertaining and educational. It must have reached me on some level; I still have that 123..4 5...678 910..11 12 ...song in my head.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432580)

Education is not and cannot be entertainment.

Not really true, but there does have to be some existing level of interest. Then it ceases to be education and becomes a "hobby". Everybody here has at least one thing they're knowledgeable of the trivial minutiae pertaining to it, but they still find it fun: Computer programming, model rocketry, Fantasy Football Leagues, Monty Python movies... whatever.

The problem is that we never thought these things were fun in the way that what you're calling "entertainment" is fun. People take the backwards approach of taking something that's educational and trying to make it fun, rather than vice versa. And that doesn't work for beans.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (1)

hanoverjames (839798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432595)

However, entertainment is fundamentally antagonistic to education.

...so where does that put slashdot?

Entertainment can be Educating, however. (3, Interesting)

artificialnews.com (942466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432599)

That's what the History Channel is all about. I watch it as much as I can (which isn't much, b/c I don't have cable or anything at my house) just because I love learning new things.

But it's one of those things that depend on the activity and subject. If you teach something in videos or whatever, there are tons of history or language or geometry things that would go along with it. But reading isn't one of those automated-type activities. Reading is learned simply because you see the use for it and have the desire for it.

Kids don't learn to read because they want a good score. They learn to read because they want attention that only another person can give. I'm sure that there are teachers that can work with this program to help their kids, but without that teacher giving their own individual attention to the kids, no computer program can help a kid read.

Re:Education is not Entertainment (4, Interesting)

Copid (137416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432622)

As one of my wisest college professors said when students were grubmling about having to learn formal definitions for a mathematics class, "I don't know where people get the idea that learning is supposed to be fun. Learning can be fun, but it can also be really tough--even downright miserable. Knowing is fun."

I'm all for making learning fun when it can be, but we often sacrifice too much in order to achieve those ends. Sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize your multiplication tables, read your textbooks, and do your problem sets. Sadly, no amount of fun will get you there faster than that.

If the kids Can't Read....Use speach recognition. (1, Interesting)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432254)

And make sure that spell check and grammar check are on.
After all book learnin is over rated.

Re:If the kids Can't Read....Use speach recognitio (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432292)

You misspelled Larnin'.

grammer police (1)

LordMaxxon (898539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432321)

you misspelled speech, learning, and overrated... are you one of those children in the study?

Computers should supplement learning (2, Insightful)

keilinw (663210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432256)

For the most part I believe the studies that were just published. I have tried many computer based classes and I did find myself distracted by the "media supplements" and "interactive" links, etc. On the other hand, I think that book learning also has its flaws.

Classical education theory suggests that people can be categorized by visual, aural, touch, smell, etc learning capacities. I found that a careful combination of each of the senses works for me.

Irrespective, I think that interactive learning is better than no learning ;)

And finally, "studies" are oftentimes slanted in favor of those who are funding the research. That is, if the sponsors don't like the result they simply choose not to publish. Matt Wong

Re:Computers should supplement learning (4, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432309)

You have completely misunderstood the point of the article. They are not discussing the utility of computers in teaching general subjects. They are discussing the utility of computers in teaching reading.

Not "book learning". Literacy.

In summary, learn to fucking read.

Re:Computers should supplement learning (1)

keilinw (663210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432541)

Irrespective of how you choose to interpret what I wrote, my point was that "MY" experience with interactive learning software has led me to believe that the "study" presented on /. had some validity.

So, while you may be able to read I am sincerely doubting your ability to "think." If the "point" of the article as you so delicately put it was about literacy then why did the article discuss parents spending millions on educational computer games for their young, as well as the fact that the students could not remember the stories they just read? It looks to me like they were implying that the interactive nature of the software was too distracting. In fact, the title of the article is, "Interactive learning fails reading test." So, my friend, I think it is you who misunderstood the point of the article. They were not discussing literacy, which happens to be defined as, "the ability to read and write."

While you may be "literate" you have most certainly proven yourself to lack "taste" or as was demonstrated by your "foul" choice of words. While I dislike using such words I fear that you will not understand it any other way.

Learn to fucking think.

Matt Wong

Re:Computers should supplement learning (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432433)

Classical education theory suggests that people can be categorized by visual, aural, touch, smell, etc learning capacities. I found that a careful combination of each of the senses works for me.

Irrespective, I think that interactive learning is better than no learning


As the other poster pointed out, you missed the point of the article (not that I read it myself, but the other posts seem to suggest that as well.) That said, you also seem to misunderstand Classical Education Theory and how it relates to interactive learning - or learning period.

The Classical Education Theory simply puts togethers the different methods in which people learn - no people learn the same way; and learning almost always occurs best through a use of teaching via all the methods. (Otherwise, the teacher is (a) not reaching everyone, and (b) the students are not interacting enough with the subject through the different methods to be able to fully learn it).

Interactive learning on computers deploy a number of the different methods, but are by nature more focused on visual and audible methods, while trying to employ the ergo-method (learn by doing it hands on - whatever it may be called).

Interactive learning is no different from the classical methods employed by teachers and professors - but it lacks the personal touch that a human can give (given best when said human is present in the room with the student).

It does not surprise me the least that interactive learning does not work well - kids take it as entertainment, not learning, so they are not processing it the same way. Some things might be absorbed, but not nearly as much. Additionally, this will also contribute to the issue of ADD/ADHD as students will lack concentration abilities since the computer tools will try to keep attention by constantly offering new methods of attention, which will result in less being stored in the brain. All this so that the parents can take a nap, or do something without little Jimmy and Jane whining about not having anything to do - or as others have put it - Laziness.

The best solution would be for the parents to read the kids a book, play a game with them, and challenge them themselves to read, do math, or otherwise learn. Nothing will be more cherished in the long run (by either parent or child, though especially the parent), and nothing will teach them more or show them that you (as a parent) care about them. And best yet - you can do it with all of your children at the same time.

Re:Computers should supplement learning (1)

keilinw (663210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432581)

Uh, no. The point of the article is: "Interactive learning fails reading test." That is, the focus is on "interactive learning" and it - not the reading test.

What was that? (2, Funny)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432262)

No really, the big animated ad thingy under the summery whiped it from my oh so fragile short term memory.

Creative Juices (2, Insightful)

oc-beta (941915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432265)

I think that part of learning is creating the connections between synapses (of course) I believe that happens mostly when doing creative thinking. Like using your imagination. Imagination is like working out on a treadmill. When it is time to run, you are well equiped.

Let's just all IMAGINE then... (2, Insightful)

jgardn (539054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432363)

Let's just all sit around all day imagining stuff. Like let's imagine that we know how to read and write and do arithmetic. That way, when we actually have to do it, we'll be ready!

We can just imagine up computer manuals. Or better yet, let's just pretend we are computer experts who know how to write software to fly airplanes! Then we can imagine that the software passes the FAA certification process. And we can imagine that that plane just didn't fall out of the sky, killing hundreds of the passengers on board because the pilots were imagining they were really pilots when that was the first time they stepped inside a cockpit!

Isn't imagination wonderful? We'll just imagine all of life's problems away because we can, and because, you know, Disney said it works!

Re:Let's just all IMAGINE then... (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432565)

I think you miss the point. I do not think the parent intended to say that if we imagine how to do arithmetic then we will be able to do arithmetic when the times comes- I beleive instead it was that if we do not use our imagination to think creatively we will not be able to come up with creative/imaginitive solutions to problems when we need to do so.
I agree on this point- I've noticed that if I take a break for even a month from certain activities it takes me a while to ease back into them because I've lost some of that spark that allowed me to quickly come up with creative ideas. When I say creative, I do not specifically refer to things like drawing or writing- creativity is used in a lot of things, programming, math, science, all require creativity as well. Writing a program may be a different sort of creativity than painting a landscape, which may itself be different from the creativity of comming up with a mathematical proof- but all required creative thinking.

Cartoons and sound effects? (2)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432268)

That's nothing like my first computer, where the only fun thing I could do on it was learn to program.

Re:Cartoons and sound effects? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432393)

The content-rich computers of today are completely different to what we had years ago. With the early PCs, anything interesting you could get it to do was something you made it do yourself. I used to write games to play on my programmable calculator (a TI SR-56, I was too poor to afford an HP). In today's world, there isn't a place for interpreted BASIC programming, let alone peek and poke assembly language.

(please, let's not make this a 'both ways up hill to school' joke)

But there are still probably bored kids with programmable calculators out there. Even geeky ones who write programs to factor numbers to their primes while sitting in a boring 'study hall.'

Re:Cartoons and sound effects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432560)

And there are nerds like me who took too many classes and didn't have time for study hall and programmed during class...

Re:Cartoons and sound effects? (1)

mrcdeckard (810717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432607)

learned on a ][e, and there wasn't a whole lot to do except program (only games i had were infocom games, so, to a degree, i think it helped my reading -- also made me think about grammer a little bit when i wanted to write my own game, had to design a parser).

although i learned a lot, i think it scewed my perception some, too. i think it made me think a bit too deterministically, and this is the real danger in video games, methinks. how many games don't have a clear-cut "way to go"? and are still fun (ie, actually get played)?

mr c

Think "Diebold does Schoolhouse Rock". (2, Informative)

theflyingdingleberry (939059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432269)

just like "evoting", this shouldn't shock. In theory, interactive learning with the aid of a computer should benefit the students who get to use it. In practice, this turns out to be just another give-away to cronies with schlock product - just google "bush brother educational software texas schools" to see what I'm talking about. One of the Bush bros was charging millions for totally useless software that was just worthless - really lame, mindless crapware aimed at the lowest common denominator. I'm all for having programming courses in schools, and giving the rest of the students basic computer literacy (preferably with open source tools), but this "interactive software" learning crap will always come in way over-priced, and add no value to the education of our youth here in the U.S. This is also why I am convinced that the U.S. is slowly (or maybe quickly) deteriorate intellectually and be supplanted by the nations that more rapidly are able to adopt FLOSS into their learning curriculums

You know what's good for reading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432275)

Reading.

And lots of it.

Text only.

Pictures and animation and Battlefield 2 are not reading.

A couple of points (5, Insightful)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432277)

From TFA, emphasis mine:

The other half used an interactive program which, in addition to telling the story, encourages pupils to click the computer mouse on page illustrations, triggering almost 300 animations and sound effects.

Only two-thirds of the pop-up cartoons were relevant to the storyline.

-----

Firstly and seriously, of course children will be distracted by animations and sound effects. Knowing this, and if they are irrelevent, why did the writers of the software put them there? Why not add some animations that explained part of the story? Fair enough no kid's book should read like a tech manual (and vice versa), but putting in distractions will distract the reader - child or otherwise.

Secondly and less seriously... they're surprised 'only' two thirds of the popups are relevent? Put the kids on the net instead of using that software and we'll see how many 'relevent' popups they get.

Actually, that might not be such a good idea...

Re:A couple of points (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432343)

I agree with that. Here's what you need if you're designing a program to teach kids to read: Pictures relevant to the story, text, and a good text-to-speech subsystem. That's it. No fscking cartoons, no animation, no SOUND EFFECTS! Just click on the word and hear the computer speak it, and that's it.

Re:A couple of points (1)

woot account (886113) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432544)

Which is exactly, as I understand it, what the Leappad books are.

Blaming the medium for the message (2, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432371)

OK, so their test programs implemented interactivity badly. Therefore, interactivity is bad.

Of course, given that people often judge video games, comics, genre fiction, etc. only by their worst examples, why should anyone be surprised by this conclusion?

Re:Blaming the medium for the message (1)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432488)

Problem is, all I have to judge modern learning software is this study. I had some software of that type as a kid, but it wasn't altogether impressive -- solid on the learning for the most part, but either too flashy or too boring to be usable in the long term.

I'm sure there are shining examples of interactive learning software, but the study shows some potential shortcomings. It is an area for improvement, as IT-assisted learning will most likely become increasingly used in the future.

Re:A couple of points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432486)

They may have been using existing software that already has these attributes. Also, unrelated to the storyline doesn't necessarily mean unrelated at all. It might be that you click on a word and an animation pops up explaining the word but not in the context of the story.

I highly doubt the one third of unrelated messages were for p3n15 p177s or completely unrelated stuff like that.

Re:A couple of points (1)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432537)

Just to throw in my two cents, the interesting portions to me was all about this:

A day after the exercise, children were asked to recall the story and the characters in it. The findings showed that 90 per cent of the group that used the first program had good or excellent recall of the story.

It doesn't seem like the researchers are testing reading ability, they're "just" testing memory. And of course you're going to have poor memory when you have multiple distracting events going on as well. It looks like either the headlines were sensationalized, misunderstood, or the researchers are comparing apples to pomegranates.

Here [brainconnection.com] is an interesting sumamry of what regions of the brain are involved in reading and language. Slide #6 of this brain dissection [exploratorium.edu] is an illustration of the subdivisions that play significant roles in memory. Reading and memory may share some overlap, but to test one does not always involve testing the other.

three r's? (1)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432295)

Computers are only any use if the kids can read and write, i didnt use computers in my school life till i was 12, now even nursery children have regular access. Equally the UK goverment (probably not alone) is putting alot of pressure onto teachers to use PC's without ensuring that the usage is relevent or properly planned. Coupled with the lack of training and technical assistance in smaller schools, the computer is seen as a burden by the staff and a game by the kids.

Of course, paper books are just as bad... (2, Insightful)

Rahga (13479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432301)

These researchers can blame the bells and whistles all they want, but I doubt they tested the interactive books against a real control... If you give a 5 year old a copy of Curious George, be prepared to watch them struggle at the rate of 30 seconds per page, or 5 to 10 minutes for a whole book, reading and figuring out each word. By the end of the ordeal, they plot of the story and details wont matter to them. What matters is that they've read every word, and the monkey somehow managed to rescue his banana.

Re:Of course, paper books are just as bad... (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432362)

Umm...maybe it's because they're actually learning the individual words? Once they learn to comprehend words, they'll learn to comprehend the storyline. The latter cannot happen without the former.

Duh. (2, Interesting)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432307)

I've been saying this for years. I saw this happening with my kids in the 90's and got them away from it.

And guess what? It's not just kids and "educational" programs,
the same thing applies to adults and movies/TV..

Think about it...

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432378)

think about it

I wish I could...

The Rise of MS English (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432319)

I'd also fault spelling and grammar checkers in the continuing decline of proper language skills/skill's. Too/to/two many people play loose/lose with their/there/they're word processor's/processors checking facilities. If the text passes the checker, then they're/there/their convinced it's/its fine.

I'm no speeling or grammar fiend but even I am horrified by the basic language errors that now appear in supposedly edited works (e.g., the New York Times and in books). Some people claim the trend is due to e-mail/IM, but I'd argue that a well trained person doesn't make such basic mistakes even on a fast first draft.

I blame the pubic school system (2, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432353)

That little gem has even appeared in The Washington Post. When even old time print media is coasting on the spell checker, maybe it's a lost cause.

Re:The Rise of MS English (0, Redundant)

conteXXt (249905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432417)

Point made.

May I carefully point out that "spelling" has only one "e"?

(you knew it was going to happen, so please don't hate me.)

Peace.

you been using the spellcheck too much? (1)

246o1 (914193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432484)

you said: "Too/to/two many people play loose/lose with their/there/they're word processor's/processors checking facilities." you meant: their word processors' . . .

Re:The Rise of MS English (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432531)

Hey, moron, you misspelled supposably.

Lab rats (3, Insightful)

msbsod (574856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432322)

I have seen similar experiments like the reported one in Great Britain. In the US (university) students are pushed through labs where they are suppose to learn things like physics. Those labs come with special computer programs to train the students. Before the lab begins, the students have to complete an online test. Then they conduct a few simple experiments. In the final last step they are suppose to use the computer and compare their experimental results with theoretical calculations. For example, they take a little vehicle on a ramp and measure the distance as a function of time. Then they are suppose to fit the data. The computer programs offer various functions with generic variable names. The students try them all and sometimes find the right formula. So, they pass. But, most students give the wrong answer when asked which variable in the formula represents the acceleration. They learn nothing. They quit without any idea about physics, units, and never have to do an error calculation. At some universities things went really bad: TA's are told be the professor that the students by definition do not give a "wrong" answer. Instead, students should simply discuss their results and it does not matter what their results are. I have seen it. The students are becoming the lab rats of instructors who want to find the perfect teaching method. Somehow I am wondering how the students pass the test before the lab, and what they do later in their life. What I do know is that not every faculty member is happy with the situation. But, these are new "learning techniques", funded with a lot of money. Everybody better shut up, as long as the money flows.

Re:Lab rats (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432418)

TA's are told be the professor that the students by definition do not give a "wrong" answer. Instead, students should simply discuss their results and it does not matter what their results are.

Sounds appropriate to philosophy, not science.

Re:Lab rats (1)

jgardn (539054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432421)

Yeah, we had the same thing going on at the University of Washington. They had all the freshman physics classes lined up to learn this way. Except the professors weren't on board. They allowed a few questions on the exam to come from the TA grad students running the program, but the majority were the dry old textbook physics stuff. And lectures were lectures that would make you die from boredom. In other words, the professor stands up when the bell rings, then says, "Continuing our discussion from two days ago, the answer is obviously expressed by this simple equation with three terms. As you can PLAINLY see, this exponential term explodes as t approaches 0, while these terms tend to 0. So..." The other stuff was run by the muckity mucks.

What was really sad is the so-called physics educators didn't understand physics themselves. So they wrote these guided labs and workbooks that were misleading. A couple of times in my memory a physics professor would get a hold of the workbook or lab material and bring it to lecture to explain why it was wrong. Needless to say, there wasn't much love between the two groups of people.

What happened was a lot of the students ended up finding a good tutor that would explain to them what was really happening in simple terms rather than letting the students grasp at straws. It takes a professional to tie the stupid labs with the real world and the book physics.

The students I tutored would always ask, "Why don't they just do THIS in lab rather than waste our time in an exercise of futility?" I told them things got better in the sophomore level and above, that physics was really a great subject with some fun things in it, but by then they were turned off completely.

Our physics department really struggled to find kids that wanted to learn physics.

Does Zork count? (5, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432329)

When I was a kid, educational software like Zork really helped, typing and spelling especially. Plus I learned never to go into a dark room lest I be eaten by a grue.

Re:Does Zork count? (1)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432570)

Plus I learned never to go into a dark room lest I be eaten by a grue.

More insightful words have never been spoken?

Re:Does Zork count? (3, Insightful)

chriss (26574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432602)

When I was a kid, educational software like Zork really helped, typing and spelling especially.

Yes, it does. And it is a good example for how educational software should be:

  • You played, because you wanted.
  • The learning happened because you needed the knowledge for yourself, so learning made sense.
  • The situation required you to think how to apply your knowledge in the "real world" of Zork.
  • There was an instant reward.
  • You could start and stop the learning process at any time.
  • It was fun.

For me it was "Wishbringer" and "Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy". Since my first language is German, it was even more usefull, since I usually had no opportunity to really try my English communication skills in my natural habitat. SimTalk is way more efficient than NoTalk.

Chriss

--
memomo.net - free online language training [memomo.net]

The Solution is Obvious (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432341)

This study confirms what we've all long suspected. MUDs are superior to graphical games, and stuff like World of Warcrack and Evercrack really are bad for you. All those bright pictures, colors, and songs just ruin your focus. If you want your children to grow up smart, park them in front of telnet, not teletubbies.

Ugh, I knew it. (2, Insightful)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432344)

Only two-thirds of the pop-up cartoons were relevant to the storyline.

A day after the exercise, children were asked to recall the story and the characters in it. The findings showed that 90 per cent of the group that used the first program had good or excellent recall of the story.

This figure dropped to 30 per cent with the children who had used the interactive program.


Hmm, one program had 2/3 superfluous material and their story retention dropped by 2/3. What a coincidence.

READ a WHAT? (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432347)

From the article: "The children were more highly motivated to read a talking story than a conventional book."

Shouldn't she have said "listen to a talking story"? Apparently the teachers need some help. If nothing else, they should try reading stories to the kids.

Also: "the vast spending on information and communication technology has had little or no impact on standards."

That's true in the corporate world, too. I guess we truly are preparing the kiddies for real life!

And this is surprising why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432377)

And this is surprising why?

So we may deduce.... (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432427)

...that most Slashdot readers learned to write "interactively" [mac.com] growing up?

Proof is in the pudding.

I think the fact they are using a computer (2, Interesting)

mgranit11 (862145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432431)

That is most important. Teaching children at a young age to use technology will possibly help them later on in life.

Re:I think the fact they are using a computer (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432577)

I totally disagree. Merely giving young kids access to computers, only learns them to be icon punching monkeys. If you really think that teaching technology is important for kids, then teach them eg. a little boolean logic and math and let them apply this knowledge to problems _using_ a computer.

Phony test (5, Insightful)

chriss (26574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432464)

Man, do I hate those studies. What the hell were they measuring? Two groups of six years old listening to a story while the text ist displayed on a computer screen.

Group A
Will only have the posibility to listen to the story while the currently read line is highlightened on the screen.
Group B
Will additionaly be encouraged to click on illustrations, triggering almost 300 animations and sound effects. 100 of these have nothing to do with the story whatsoever

When asked about the story, 90% of group A will remember it correctly, but only 30% of group B. So what is the conclusion? Maybe that distractions, especially those that are not related to what you are currently doing will harm your concentration and therefore you will remember not as well as if you were left alone? No, the conclusion is:

Interactive learning fails reading test

WTF?

  • Maybe I would have bought it if they did not add 33% of noise to the experiment.
  • Maybe I would have bought it if the animations were designed to give an insight into the story. (Were they? They don't say. Animations and sound effects may be "Hit the monkey, win an iPod" flash banners displayed because the story is about a monkey).
  • Maybe I would have bought it if they had tested for some positive reaction to the added interactive component (Were the children that did not follow the linear story able to tell the story in a nonlinear context? Could they seperate the single elements of the story more easily? Did anybody care to check?)

I don't claim that it is impossible that interactive learning is the wrong educational tool for six years old. I don't believe it, but I just can't prove it. But I'm annoyed by all these stupid studies making statements based on unprecise conditions, which will not allow to deduce verifyable conclusions, but will be picked up by the press (and slashdot) nonetheless.

They're just like those studies that claim over and over again that playing counterstrike will turn kids into brutal killers. Proven wrong again and again, but nobody cares.

Chriss

--
memomo.net - free online language training [memomo.net]

skip organic children entirely (1)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432501)

If parents want their children raised and educated by robots, they shouldn't expect them to excel using normal organic brains. Perhaps parents should hold off on reproducing and wait until technology advances to the point where silcon-based children can come pre-assembled and pre-programmed, knowing whatever lucrative skills will make them a success (helping to supplement their parents' inevitably meagre social security safety net, which by then will have surely acquired rather massive tears).

What is Learning? (2, Interesting)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432505)

To the best of my knowledge no one has answered the simple question, 'what is learning?'. Is it just pattern recognition? What are the memory requirements? Is it both a rote act and a creative act? To what extent does peer pressure and the desire to excell play a part? What part does good parenting play? What about diet and overall health?

Guys like Edward De Bono [edwdebono.com] have made a career by claiming to have the inside track on creative learning. I've studied epistemology since my mid teens and in answer to the question 'what is learning?' I've acquired a vast ignorance. Ultimately, for me, learning is a nurtured drive with inherent requirements, that is nourished by the new, by information, difference that makes a difference (Bateson). The high of learning comes when one recognizes that nature has given rise to you, an individual with the potential to encompass the principles of life in the small shell that houses your brain.The truth is most people are driven by the more primitive drives and default to being entertained.

Gregory Bateson [edge.org] suggested we can learn to learn, possibly learn to learn to learn; but, first we must experience what it means to learn. I believe that learning is a unique multifaceted experience that, once experienced, can, depending on the individual, entice the practioner ever onward.

The day my older sister took me by the hand and walked me into the nearest library I was hooked. I knew how to, read, loved to read, but had no idea of the universes of knowledge available. Yet even into grade 1 I stubbornly refused to learn to write. I read, I had lots to read, other people were doing the writing, what need had I to write?

Whatever learning is, whether it be as simple as deriving new patterns, or, as profound as Archimedes' Eureka!, we first must introduce children to the joy of learning. Most of them can take it from there.

just my loose change.

the "content" isn't the point (1)

moneybuystrophies (933297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432516)

The current discussion around the educational value of games is not about how games teach "content" or basic skills. Games are educational in that players learn how to interact with complex systems, something they will need to do increasingly in science and engineering. As a primer, read James Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. ISBN 1403965382

What the.. (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432530)

I can attest to the validity of this study. I don't have kids, but when I was one, I had a plastic learning device called a "Speak & Spell." Some of you may have heard of it. The only thing I can remember about this device is that if you pushed the L button, it sounded a LOT like "hell." We would use this exceedingly amusing, at the time, coincidence(?) to get around actually using bad words through such techniques as saying "What the" and then pushing L. Surprisingly, this technique proved to be completely ineffective at avoiding a spanking.

Filtering (1)

codeboost (603798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432545)

pupils who use interactive programs cannot remember stories they have just read because they are distracted by cartoons and sound effects

Which is what most sites look like today. Instead of cartoons, we have banners. For instance, pr0n sites. Those animated banners are really distracting, can hardly remember the stories the next day :).

The abundance of information on the Internet is changing us into becoming information discarders, not information seekers. In the future we will be bombarded by much more information, which will attack our brains through all possible channels (audio, video, interactivity, real time communication). We must adapt to this abundance, by learning how to filter out unnecessary information and get only what we need (which is a separate topic in itself).

Teaching pupils how to focus on the required parts of information may be more important than actually implanting knowledge into their brains.
So I guess it is no wonder that interactive learning programs fail to achieve results; they should be used to teach kids how to ignore unnecessary distractions and focus on the important facts.

Re:Filtering (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432621)

Which is what most sites look like today. Instead of cartoons, we have banners. For instance, pr0n sites. Those animated banners are really distracting, can hardly remember the stories the next day :).

You mean they have stories too? I've never noticed.

Additional sources on the subject (2, Funny)

fastgood (714723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432572)

I read the exact same thing on Fortune last week. Or was it Forbes? It was one of those webpages
with all the float-over windows with sound and graphics ... it's kind of hard to remember now which.

MinUs 5, Troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14432633)

not 4nymore. It's
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