“Shkolnitsa” – an Application Package for Automation of School Educational Process
The works on the subject “computers in school” were carried out in the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1961. Started as a series of separate experiments in teaching informatics in study groups and elective courses, it eventually evolved into a fundamental research direction carrying out state-level tasks.
In 1984, academician Andrei Ershov from the Computing Center of Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Science, and V. Monakhov (Institute of Content and Methods of Education of the USSR Academy of Educational Sciences) took the leadership of a group of authors to create a textbook for school students and methodical manual for teachers of the basics of informatics and computing machines. The textbooks for 9th year and for 10th year students were published in 1985 and 1986, respectively.
The software for the course was represented by the application package named “Shkolnitsa” (Schoolgirl) developed in the Computing Center in late 1984 by a group of young graduates of the Young Programmers School, mentored by G. Zvenigorodski under the guidance of Andrei Ershov. Shkolnitsa was meant for educational use of hardware capacities of PCs in the process of studying the basics of informatics and computers, and for developing simple educational applications.
The Shkolnitsa system was a program complex deployed on 8 and 16-bit personal computers with no less than 48 KB RAM, with the standard keyboard, device for loading the program from external memory and with the standard alphanumerical or graphic display. The production version was built for the Soviet-made Agat PC and came with it. The main functions of the system were also implemented for the American Apple PC, Japanese Yamaha PC, and domestic Elektronika-UKNTS produced by the Ministry of Electronic Industry.
The input languages of the system were Robik – for elementary learning of the basic concepts of programming, and Rapira – for pre-production programming and developing small program packages. The author of the input languages was G. Zvenigorodsky, a talented programmer and enthusiast of working with children, who, unfortunately, passed away untimely. The system employed Russian programming language vocabulary; national language versions were developed as well – Estonian, Georgian, Moldavian and Armenian.
The Shkolnitsa system was equipped with application packages in programming, mathematics, physics and chemistry, which allowed to model some experiments, practice mental arithmetic, develop dimensional imagination and combinatory abilities of schoolchildren, get acquainted with basic programming skills, etc.
The Shkolnitsa application package passed official tests of the Interdepartmental State Commission, which included representatives from the USSR Ministry of Education, was recommended for use in schools, and entered the GosFAP (State Program and Algorithm Fund). Shkolnitsa was nominated with the Big Silver Medal at the USSR National Exhibition VDNKh.