Magazine article Technology & Learning

Build a Better Computer

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Build a Better Computer

Article excerpt

In the beginning, computers were enough just as they were. Each was basically the same - a box, a screen, a keyboard. No matter if the user was a six-year-old or a 17-year-old, the person adapted to the machine, not vice versa. Now that computers seem to be here to stay, designers are reexamining this inflexibility. The result is a host of products that let you customize computers for different groups of users or curricular areas, and for ergonomic safety.

Little kids especially are on the receiving end of this new wave of innovation. A booming market in keyboards, mice, and other input devices has grown up around developmental concerns. While computer-using tots (pre-k to first-graders) seem quite willing to work with the computer as we know it, many people are raising questions about the healthfulness of it. Hence, devices for small children emphasize bright colors, keys that are easier for small fingers to reach, mice that are more forgiving of a young child's developing fine motor skills, and pen-and-tablet input devices that let young children work in accordance with their unique needs.

Futurists posit that down the road we will interact with computers by talking to them. While voice recognition software is still fairly primitive, one product incorporates this feature for young children for whom text-based interactions are precluded. Related to adapting the computer to young children, companies that build computer furniture have recently introduced products for this same group. …

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