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Teacher: Computers helpful, but operator must think

Staff writer

Computers are useful for doing mathematical calculations, but the person operating a computer has to be able to tell it what to do, Hillsboro High School computer teacher Dennis Boldt told students in his computer applications I class April 19.

“If you don’t know what the computer is going to do, that’s a problem,” he said.

Boldt worked with the students on a lesson about order of operations in math. A misplaced parentheses in a spreadsheet formula can result in a wrong answer, he said.

For the day’s assignment, students created a monthly balance-due report and graph for a fictional company. That kind of hands-on work is important for students, because it drives student interest, he said.

Boldt is in his 20th year teaching at HHS. During that period, he has seen many changes in the ways computers are used in education.

“When I came here, we had 20 computers — Tandy 1000s,” he said.

There were no other computers in the district at that time. USD 410 now has more than 400 computers, not including laptops issued to high school students, he said.

“Kids have a lot more experience with computers than in the past,” Boldt said. “They aren’t afraid to try things on computers.”

But little of that experience is in business applications. Students are used to texting and using slang. Few students take time to proofread what they write.

“When you’re in business and you write a cover letter, it needs to be perfect,” he said.

Sophomore Allison Troyer said she expects to use much of what she learns when she finishes school. Boldt’s methods make it easy to retain what he teaches, she said.

“He puts it in terms we can understand,” Troyer said.

Students are very creative, especially graphically, Boldt said. He can usually show them how to do things once, and the students can take it from there, he said.

In computer applications I, students learn how to use databases and spreadsheets. Boldt also teaches computer applications II, which delves deeper into database and spreadsheet use.

Boldt’s other classes are document processing I, for word processing and presentations; document processing II, for page design and graphics; and Web page design.

Starting in the fall, Web page design students will manage USD 410’s Web site.

Boldt graduated from Tabor College. Before he began teaching at HHS, he taught for one year at Brown Mackie College in Salina.

Last modified April 28, 2010

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