Computer clubs at schools seem to range from a complete waste of time all the way up to wonderful experiences that are both fun and educational. Organizing and running one was not, I am embarrassed to admit, one of my strong suits. I wish it had been otherwise.
The worst clubs, in my opinion, are the ones that are little more than an excuse to use the school’s LAN for game playing. Now there are worse things in the world and I do think that letting students have game events using the school’s LAN can be a positive thing. It is great as a reward for good behavior or as a fund raiser for some special cause. But really it is not an ideal use of a teacher’s time to supervise on a regular basis.
The best clubs, also my opinion, offer students a chance to learn something beyond what they learn in class. Perhaps it is the chance to get an early exposure to programming, or perhaps a new programming language. Or maybe it is a chance to experiment with network programming, database programming or advanced graphics. The keys are that students want to have fun and as a faculty advisor you want them to learn something. The two really can go hand in hand.
Pat Phillips, someone who knows more about running computer clubs than I will ever know, has some interesting and helpful things to say at her Editor’s Corner this week. If you are involved in a school computer club you will want to check it out.