Less TI, More Math

Moebius Stripper, always able to supply a nice rant about how integrated calculators in math classes are producing students unprepared for college math, supplies a good set of links to articles about the connections between Texas Instruments and the math textbook industry. For some reason, these articles got me thinking about a related question – how much computer usage in school is a good thing, and how much distracts from real learning? That’s a huge can of worms, so how about just the question of the correct balance of computer usage in my department’s classes?

Bringing Back Friday

The NY Times has an interesting article about the trend away from Friday courses on college campuses, and efforts to bring back the serious five-day week. As far as it goes it is interesting, but I think that it misses two points. One, there is a strong implication that it is primarily student pressure to avoid Friday classes – there is only one brief mention that faculty are expected to do much more than teach and having a work day with fewer teaching obligations helps keep on top of research and community obligations. Second, even with Friday classes being common, … Continue reading Bringing Back Friday

Teaching Carnivals

I’d never heard of the “Carnival” concept in weblogging before, but it is apparently an arrangement among a number of webloggers to post articles around a central theme during a month and then one weblogger maintains a list of all of these posts, organized into subthemes. I found out about it after seeing a link to Teaching Carnival II – a Carnival about secondary education teaching. It’s a very cool idea for pulling together posts on a particular topic, and I found the Teaching Carnivals (I also went back to check the previous one) really great – people are posting … Continue reading Teaching Carnivals

Constitution Day

Can I get a big eye roll over the mandate, recently getting press, that all schools and colleges receiving any federal funding must recognize September 17th as Constitution Day and offer an educational program on the constitution on that day? The Department of Education’s notice on the topic does make it clear they’re flexible about the form of such a program, but it’s still being required. Woo hoo – I know I feel better with Congress setting curricular requirements without any pedagogical justification for such an approach to educating students on the topic. I doubt that there are school boards … Continue reading Constitution Day

Your AI is Weak!

The final exam today was a proud day for this AI professor: while waiting for me to hand out the exams, we heard someone smashing their computer on the quad outside the classroom and one student yelled out “Yeah – your AI is WEAK!” I’ll be missing this class….

Copywriting Course Materials

I really don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before this, but having read this story about a student posting their test on-line for profit, I’ll be adding a copyright notice to all of my course materials, homeworks and exams on Monday. I understand that students at my school will hold on to and swap old assignments and exams, but creating on-line databanks, and in particular profiting off of my creatve work, is unacceptable. The article says it well in this quote: Dane Ciolino, who teaches copyright law at Loyola University in New Orleans, said Narva took “an age-old … Continue reading Copywriting Course Materials

On the Internet, Everybody Knows You’re a Cheat

It’s always fun to start the morning with an object lesson in not trusting internet sources, particularly followed up with a side dish of a plagiarist getting slammed. The writer of the above site shares a series of chat sessions in which he was solicited to write a college student’s essay over IM, which he proceeded to do as poorly and factually inaccurately as possible, and then reported her to her school as well as posting the story (and her full name) on his website. Particularly interesting is the long thread of comments, enough to spill over onto the next … Continue reading On the Internet, Everybody Knows You’re a Cheat

Too much LDS

I think the college prerequisites system needs to be rethought. Today in class, I was discussing various types of behavior that are classified as exhibiting human intelligence, and after suggesting “guessing”, mentioned the relevant scene at the end of Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales. There wasn’t a single student in the room who had seen it. I commented to them that a more useful pre-req for my class than Psych. 101 might be Amanda’s Pop Culture 101 – a common lexicon of science fiction movies and television would be a good base for class discussion.

Why Fewer CS Students?

Here’s another article about the drop in computer science program enrollment at the undergrad level, attributing the drop to offshoring of programming jobs. On the one hand, a 23 percent decrease in new majors over the past year is stunning, and clearly too large to be a fluke. But I think the recent focus on offshoring as the core of the problem is too limited. When I graduated from college about a decade ago, computer science programs were still relatively new and the boom was just starting. You could leave college (and a liberal arts college at that!) with a … Continue reading Why Fewer CS Students?