I found that students were still confused about input and output, and even between hardware and software. So I decided in my next class to add a prop - a computer (cpu tower) with nothing attached. It’s a computer, but how can we get it to do anything or even store anything? This led to a more natural discussion of inputs and outputs. Then I asked, ok we got it to do something, or store our files, but how do we know it actually worked? Which led to a discussion of outputs. I felt this really helped students understand the concept on inputs and outputs.
What a great idea! I think they get confused because so many of them use devices with touchscreens such as smart phones and tablets. On these types of devices the screen is both the input and the output.
True, and another reason I think they get confused is because they are thinking of each button on an app as an input, and then I have to explain that this is software pretending to be hardware, but it’s really just the touch screen that is being used!