How to better fit the needs of young learners?

I think young learners should be directed towards a specific branch of

This thread orginates in the following case study : “How do you take the nth-rooth in the finnish version of your software ?”

I agree with your opinion that “writing guidelines” are part of software education, along many other abstract notions such as “templates”, “style sheets”, “index browsing” and so on.

Yet, the point I wanted to make in my comment is that youg learners would benefit from an environment where their language is welcomed first rather than buried in admonestations. I also think that teachers should make an effort to reply as users and not as teachers : imagine that someone teaching economics might be looking for the answer to this question. Is he required to know that x^(1/2) = \sqrt(x) ?

Let’s summarize the efficient part of the Q/A process :
Q : “How do you take the nth-rooth in the finnish version of your software”
A : “For taking an n-th root there is not a specific function in spreadsheets […] You can use the operator ^ for exponentiation : it works in every case, finnish, english or whatever language. For instance, if you want to take a square root of 2, type 2^(1/2) and you will get 1,4142. If you want to compute an 10th root of 2 type 2^(1/10) and you will get 1,07177”

This would be my guess at a direct reply, without admonestation. Actually, if you think about it, downvoting and upvoting are sufficient to deal with ill-formed contributions : it’s actually quite harsh, and sometimes comments are better when understood in the scope of a p2p interaction, but too many comments produce cluttering and that’s a harm for the collectivity. So in the end, upvoting and downvoting are the way to go, and they produce great results : everybody writes, but good writers are brought in front, and bad writers are brought back.

Handling more than a hundred languages in certainly a daunting task, but as far as french is concerned, libreoffice is now the default desktop suite on every school’s computer, so that translates into the following user statistics :

  • approximately 800 000 teachers
  • probably at least as many young learners, but not 40 times 800 000 : for better or for worse, software education is shunned by most teachers as “not part of their job”

A young learner’s forum might be backed up by the teacher community, just by down/up voting. Also mind that good students will be eager to comment and produce nice-looking answers. But that should happen naturally.

Through what device would this forum exist is still a hard question, and entails another question : “would that young learner’s forum have to be instantiated in every language or just English ?”.
For the ODF and the administration of AskLibo, maintaining an English forum is already enough pain, so probably just using a “high school” or “junior high school” tag would be more practical.

However, creating a French forum would probably also attract much attention and raise awareness, as well as additional human backup in the form of teachers and ambitious students. Software education is now part of the high school curriculum (it’s called “Sciences numériques et technologie”, which translates to “Digital sciences and technology”), and I observe that more and more students upload their homework in LO format, especially LO Write.

Sorry my time is running out.
About me : Math teacher, and father of one

as a mathematical side note, observe that 2^(1/3) is inefficient from a stricly mathematical point of view : if one is to solve the 3rd root of 2, then 5 steps of Newton’s iteration are the most direct way, whereas 2^(1/3) will run newton’s iteration to solve the equation x^(0.3333333333333333) = 2. I wonder if some of the digits are wrong in the second solution as compared to the first.

The question mentioned in the second paragraph of this one was how do you take the nth root in the finnsih version of your software.
To avoid misunderstandings: I was not the user who downvoted that question. I commented on it in a critical way, but also tried a useful answer.
Wording the main part of that answer I did neither realize that nor consider if the question was probably posted by a highschool student. I tried a useful answer under the impression this would require to make clear that the topic was basically hitting mathematics without any considerations concerning the efficiency of the algorithm implemented for the purpose in Calc.
Writing in English, however, isn’t my most prominent ability. I’m simply a German interested in global cooperation, and preferring Globalish forums therefore.

Your question is a real educational good one but I fear it misses a fundamental point.

This Q&A site is not a training site. In principle, it is a complement to the various user guides and the built-in help. Users in trouble are expected to have read the relevant guide and already have done some research to solve the problem as explained in this excellent answer by @Jim K.

Unfortunately, at least 90% of newcomers don’t even search the site to see if their problem is already known and answered. Worse, they think that AskLO contributors can read their minds to discover what is at stake when a question description sums up to “I have a problem, solve it” (very often without nice words like “please”).

The main AskLO leg offers support in English (or rather in “globish”) and should (but not always unfortunately) be tolerant to approximate expression due to its world audience. Other locale legs are expected to cover more easily difficulty in expressing the problem because there is no longer the language barrier. However this does not level up the cultural habits.

To take an example, I once was relatively active on the French leg when it started since I consider I master quite well the French language. But I soon stopped for two reasons: a cultural one where askers clearly were too lazy to open at least the built-in help (not to speak about the guides) which would have given the solution under one minute, the second one being the use of a colloquial form of French full of approximations (words used for another, lack of precision in descriptions) and a grammar so relaxed that the sentences became difficult to understand. From the writing style, I would grade the French askers as being relatively young and not being used to search first by themselves before considering they need somebody’s help. This is where I blame a cultural aspect due to some education regression unfortunately too common in Western Europe.

Having a specific AskLO leg dedicated to tutorial is surely a good idea. This could probe the main access difficulties to LO. But such a site should not be a replacement for good documentation. Having identified the angle of attacks should lead to writing the supposed missing books. LO is a FOSS application. It relies on community effort and documentation is also part of the development. Without decent documentation, the best application in the world is worth nothing.

The best advice to be given to newcomers to LO is to forget what they think they know about application usage (the so-called “intuitive approach” because “intuition” is just another word for “routine” – and to be mean, for “lazyness”). Every application is different and tries to address the domain in an “adapted” way. Complaining about “suite XYZ does it this way; why doesn’t LO do it the same?” is surely not the best way to start with LO.

You can join the documentation team if you can donate part of your time. This could help to bridge the lag between release time of a new version and its dedicated guides.

To show the community your question has been answered, click the ✓ next to the correct answer, and “upvote” by clicking on the ^ arrow of any helpful answers. These are the mechanisms for communicating the quality of the Q&A on this site. Thanks!

In case you need clarification, edit your question (not an answer which is reserved for solutions) or comment the relevant answer.