Students don’t know what files and folders are, professors say

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University students in courses ranging from engineering to physics should learn what files and folders are, Verge’s reports, because that’s not how they grew up using computers. Whenever they need a file, they just look for it. “I tend to think of an item as residing in a particular folder. It resides in one place and I have to go to that folder to find it,” said astrophysicist Catherine Garland. “They see it as one bucket, and it’s all in the bucket.”

Strange as it may sound to older generations of computer users who grew up maintaining an elaborate collection of nested subfolders, with powerful search functions now being the default for operating systems, how phones and tablets obscure their file structure and cloud storage, high school graduates don’t see their hard drives the same way.

“The students had these computers in my lab; they will have a thousand files on their desks completely disorganized, ”Peter Plavchan, associate professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, told The Verge. “I’m a bit of an obsessive organizer … but they have no problem having 1000 files in the same directory. And I think that’s basically because of a change in the way we access files. . “

“My family always gives me a hard time when they see my computer screen, and there are about 50,000 icons,” said Aubrey Vogel, a journalism student at Texas A&M.

As The Verge points out, “The first Internet search engines were used around 1990, but features like Windows Search and Spotlight on macOS are both products of the early 2000s. […] While many professors today have grown up without research capabilities on their phones and computers, today’s students increasingly can’t remember a world without them. “

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or a reason to back off in horror because how do young people today dare to do things differently, why the very idea. “When I was a student, I’m sure there was a teacher who said, ‘Oh my god, I don’t understand how this person doesn’t know how to solder a chip onto a motherboard,’” Plavachan said. “This kind of generational problem has always existed.”

And Garland, the astrophysicist who teaches an engineering class, has started using his PC’s search function to find files the same way his students do. “I’m like, eh… I don’t even need those subfolders,” she said.

Of course, here in the land of PC gaming, we’re probably going to have a better chance of having to play with our records. In an attempt to demonstrate how hidden modern directory structures are, The Verge asked, “Your Steam games all live in a folder called ‘steamapps’, when was the last time you clicked on it? »For me, it was the day before yesterday when I installed a mod for high resolution NPC models in Pathfinder: Kingmaker. But still, the point is made. The filing cabinet metaphor is pretty dated, and these days I find myself leaving everything I download in the Downloads directory and searching for Google Docs rather than looking for the Google Drive folder they’re in.


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