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For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad

timothy posted about a year ago | from the depends-how-prussian-you-want-to-get dept.

Education 340

theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"

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340 comments

Well, there is Codea (4, Informative)

Maavin (598439) | about a year ago | (#44723319)

Quite interesting

Re:Well, there is Codea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723471)

And techBASIC

But neverletheless... (5, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44723699)

...The best calculator for education (IMO) is none at all. I'm not writing this as a luddite (or not entirely): I own an HP48G+ and a TI-89, and I'll admit that they are a useful means to take the gruntwork out of a lot of calculations (especially the TI-89 with its capacity for symbolic differentiation and integration).

My contention is that any calculator often tends to become a crutch that actually gets in the way of learning, in the sense that it effectively encourages the student to spit out the "answer", when the point is to understand how it is obtained.

When I studied first-year maths at Uni, most of my fellow-students never even got to grips with the fundamental theorem of calculus, which of course means that for the entirety of the course, they were parroting little mini-formulae without really understanding how it fitted together. And using any calculator to find points of inflexion on a curve is just a big time-waster when you can scribble them with a pencil much faster than you can punch the keys.

Getting back to my earlier remarks about gruntwork, though, my best choice for this - if only it existed- would be a TI-89 that does RPN (with the nice clicky keys and the big "Enter" button exactly under the index finger). Fat chance...

If TI-83's were made by Apple... (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44723331)

If TI-83's were made by Apple, you could calculate any number except 5318008.

Re:If TI-83's were made by Apple... (4, Informative)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about a year ago | (#44723361)

Boobles?

Re:If TI-83's were made by Apple... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#44723391)

Yes, please.

Re:If TI-83's were made by Apple... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723561)

You're holding it wrong...

Re:If TI-83's were made by Apple... (3, Informative)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44723749)

That's probably the first time that joke works.

Re:If TI-83's were made by Apple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723511)

Actually, Apple technology prevents you from misreading that.

I beg to differ, sir (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723333)

Why not write a TI-83 simulator for iOS/Android/W8?

A tablet is only the medium, the software it runs are the tools.

Re:I beg to differ, sir (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44723367)

Aren't emulators against Apple's policy? I mean, think about it, if you could download C64 games that are on par or superior to the average 99 cent Apple Store game...

Re:I beg to differ, sir (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723487)

This is the number one reason why anything running iOS should be banned from use in education.

Re:I beg to differ, sir (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723643)

There are already calculator emulators. For example various HP ones. (12C, 15C, etc).

Re:I beg to differ, sir (4, Informative)

bami (1376931) | about a year ago | (#44723407)

You can't run interpreted code on iStuff.

IOS SDK TOS 3.3.2

"3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any
means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other
frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in
an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and builtin interpreter(s)."

Re:I beg to differ, sir (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723469)

> You can't run interpreted code on iStuff.

You can indeed run interpreted stuff on iOS. You just can't downloadand run interpreted code. There is, for example, and excellent HP42 simulation for iOS (Free42) that allows you to program it, just as you would an HP42. Presumably, the only way to share code on an iOS interpreter would be to share listings. Which is what we did back in the 80s anyway.

Calculators support downloading (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44723791)

You can indeed run interpreted stuff on iOS. You just can't downloadand run interpreted code.

Which means any emulator would fail because it would lack support for the calculator's serial port.

Re:I beg to differ, sir (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44723545)

Of course you can run interpreters on iPads etc.

You seem to miss the important word: "download" code from the internet and execute.

Re: I beg to differ, sir (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44723569)

Your information is years out of date.

How should one view up-to-date Guidelines? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44723825)

Where is the updated version of the information that doesn't require first paying $99 for the first year? About six months ago, I was considering developing applications for iPad, and I was considering buying a sufficiently recent Mac on which to run Xcode and an iPad mini on which to test my application. Before committing to the hardware purchase, I wanted to view the App Store Review Guidelines to make sure my application concept would be permitted, but a free Apple developer account wasn't enough to view the Guidelines.

Re: I beg to differ, sir (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723861)

why don't you offer some proof, like a link to the most recent agreement?

They shouldn't be using IPad or TI (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723343)

Give them something that will actually be useful in the real world--a netbook with octave. It's certainly a heck of alot easier to learn then TI Basic for doing anything useful.

Also you could give the python with numpy if they need a programming language that extends beyond math.

Hell, even give them mathematica (Although it wouldn't be free like octave or python..)

Re:They shouldn't be using IPad or TI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723431)

Or an Android tablet with Maxima, a TI-... emulator, etc. pp.
If you're in education and you want a tablet to be more than an (interactive) book and a distraction, why in the world would you buy an iPad?

Re:They shouldn't be using IPad or TI (2)

udippel (562132) | about a year ago | (#44723489)

Or an Android tablet with Maxima, a TI-... emulator, etc. pp.
Why in the world would you buy an iPad?

See, I corrected your minor error:

Re: They shouldn't be using IPad or TI (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44723555)

You can code in octave on an iPad (although no one should). Also python, and a bunch of other languages. Plus it has a bigger screen that's much more suitable for textbooks.

Re: They shouldn't be using IPad or TI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723659)

My textbooks don't need a charger and will work over 500 days without power.

Nope (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723345)

The average student would never program their calculator.

Re: Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723357)

actually, I learnt to program by myself on a TI-82...

Re:Nope (1)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#44723415)

When the average student owns several computers, maybe programming the calculator should be encouraged.

Re:Nope (1)

VAElynx (2001046) | about a year ago | (#44723459)

First program I ever wrote was on the used Casio Graph 25 I got, and that one wasn't even a powerful or well done language.
By the end of high school I had a used Graph 65 where I wrote minesweeper, chess clock, mandelbrot set plot, and one of those bomber games which sucked since the display was too slow for it (It had a colour one) and a good couple of calculation programs - and it brought me to trying to program on a computer (C and Fortran 77). For kids who have some interest in messing with this sort of a thing, programmable calculators are a great starter that you can poke around in and do fun, rewarding things, unlike a computer where you have to learn a fuckton just to do basic things.

Re:Nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723609)

I would argue that today, a computer is a *much* easier learning environment than any calculator (or calculator language). Sure, back in the day, when programming languages like C or Fortran where the only languages on the block, a calculator language may have been easier. For one, with C you have to spend a lot of time on pointers, which I think the average kid's eyes would glaze over on. Also you have to spend time explaining compiling and the list goes on. All of these things would be good to teach in a computer class, but for the average person it's just a bunch of added noise.

Where as a program like python, syntax wise, is in my opinion as close as you can get to pseudocode. You don't have to spend time explaining compiling. It has an IDE interface so they can experiment and get immediate results. Finally, what would you rather learn on, some black and white screen you can barely read with a QWERTY keyboard, or a large color screen with easy input?

About the ONLY advantage to teaching kids to code on a calculator is there are less potential technological distractions. But if that's really your issue, disable the web, take off minesweeper etc.

Calculator is cheaper (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44723845)

About the ONLY advantage to teaching kids to code on a calculator is there are less potential technological distractions.

That and a $120 calculator per child is much less expensive than a $400 laptop per child, even with the economic rent that Texas Instruments collects for being accepted for use with College Board tests, and somewhat more durable.

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723515)

This article should have been titled "Old person thinks the way he turned out was just fine, so everyone should learn to do things the exact same way and never change."

Re:Nope (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44723571)

You are missing the point of the article. Learning to code is hellishly difficult with an iPad compared with a programmable calculator. So it's not programming one uses the iPad for in school. What's the educational use case for the iPad then?

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723787)

No, I'm not missing the point of the article. From the start for 8 paragraphs before getting to the point, the author talks about his personal experiences with the TI-83 calculator, and ONLY his personal experiences. No studies, no research, not even a passing mention of what OTHER people have done with a TI-83. Only his own personal experiences.

Even his very first words when finally getting to the point, are "In light of this", in reference to only his own personal experiences that he spent so longer establishing as the only research he's done into exactly what benefits or detriments there are to programming with a TI-83 calculator. His counter-points on why programming with an iPad were likewise pulled from his own ass, based on his own personal beliefs about what an iPad is capable of, and based on his own imagination about how iPads are actually used for in schools and what children are capable of learning.

Both are crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723349)

HP 48 were better.

Re:Both are crap (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44723771)

HP 48 were better.

Were?

Nevertheless, the HP48 (for all its beauty in terms of positive key action, keypad kayout and of course RPN) is a slow beast. I've never owned a TI-83, but my TI-89 is *much* faster for just about any serious calculation. Pity the build quality sucks.

DeLorean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723351)

24KB of available RAM memory.

Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a TI?

I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723355)

I learned to program on a TI-59 in the late 70s. After that, learning machine code and assembly programming was easy.

Now I'm teaching maths at university. My students can use any calculator (easy test: if it has a "LOG" or "LN" button, then it will have everything else we need also), but I advise to use the TI-83/84 because it is also used in other classes. In class they can also use their tablet or smartphone.

Tablets and phones are not acceptable during tests or exams, because of the communication capabilities. Then it is calculator only.

...and why bother? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44723359)

Why bother trying to type up some hodgepodge calculator games when you can download Angry Birds for 99 cents?

School policy on electronic devices (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44723871)

Because under the policy of at least one school, any handheld device running iOS or Android would need to be placed in the student's locker no later than the first bell and removed from the locker no earlier than the final bell. Exceptions can be made for students using special education services on the student's Individualized Education Program.

Maybe time for Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723363)

Android development is accessible to anyone with a computer. Its tools are free as well.

So, use an emulator... (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44723371)

I understand this works on iPads:

Apple ][ emulator [scullinsteel.com]

Re:So, use an emulator... (5, Funny)

mvdwege (243851) | about a year ago | (#44723395)

So, when pointed out that a cheap calculator is a much better educational deal than an expensive tablet, your answer is 'install an emulator on the expensive tablet'?

Just when I thought Apple fans couldn't sink any lower...

Re:So, use an emulator... (1)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#44723427)

When the choice is between buying another gadget or install a free or cheap program on a gadget you already own, then yes, that's the rational answer.

Re:So, use an emulator... (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44723757)

Except this is all about school-provided hardware, where iPads are being purchased en masse by schools to give to students during their scholar year. If you aren't in a school with that sort of program, then bringing an iPad in class is very likely disallowed anyway.

Re:So, use an emulator... (1)

Goody (23843) | about a year ago | (#44723439)

A cheap calculator is a better educational deal if all you're concerned with is programming and performing functions in a relatively primitive or basic environment. A tablet (any tablet, not just Apple) is so much more universally usefully than a cheap calculator. Try to read a PDF on a cheap calculator, for example. If an emulator on a tablet can accomplish the same thing as a cheap calculator and do a million other much more complex tasks, the tablet has a better value. The fact that most don't use a tablet for a cheap calculator emulator isn't the fault of the tablet or the vendor, or "Apple fans".

Re:So, use an emulator... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44723513)

The usefulness of a tablet is limited by the corporate IT policies that surround it. There have already been educational software suppressed on both major platforms for various reasons.

In order for an educational tool to be really useful, it needs to be in control of the educator.

In any ecosystem there are flagship species that will thrive if that ecosystem is healthy. Their success is has much broader implications than one might fathom from fixating on the most superficial view of the situation.

Re:So, use an emulator... (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44723735)

Whoosh. Schools aren't buying tablets to replace calculators, they're buying them for things like textbook replacement, note taking, research via the web, etc. Also using them in place of programmable calculators can be done with low, or zero, incremental cost.

I mentioned iPads only because that's what the summary was about. And pointing to an Apple ][ emulator just seemed to fit with that. The point, which you missed entirely on your way to making a political criticism, is that one can do programming on a tablet without having to do programming for the tablet.

Precribing (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#44723377)

You wouldn't want just any Jerome Doe being able to write prescriptions for norepinherine would you? At the very least you would want prescribers to be proven knowledgeable the hemodynamic effects of the medications they are ordering to be put into your body, right? That is the very reaon licensing of professionals exist! Why shouldn't the same stipulations be put upon those who prescribe solutions for your computing devices given that those devices are increasingly required just to survive in todays society?

Re:Precribing (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44723533)

> You wouldn't want just any Jerome Doe being able to write prescriptions for norepinherine would you?

Yes you would.

While the "authorization" part of this bad analogy might be a problem, the consumer knowledge aspect of this hits on a very important point. You should never seek to make yourself helpless or at the mercy of people that know more than you do. This is especially true when all you really need to do is pick up the right reference manual.

It can quite literally be a matter of life and death as many of these "authorize" and "trained" indidviduals SCREW UP on a regular and ongoing basis.

You're funny. The PDR is even more accessible than documentation about programming.

Re:Precribing (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | about a year ago | (#44723623)

You should never seek to make yourself helpless or at the mercy of people that know more than you do.

When you have a culture in which average people believe thinking and reasoning is a terrible burden to be avoided or offloaded at every opportunity, you naturally will observe the kind of dependency and vulnerability you point out here. It leads to people who don't want to be involved in decisions that drastically affect their own lives.

Somehow there arose this myth that you either know nothing at all, or must be a fully trained expert, that no intermediate level of knowledge, no amount of reference could ever be useful.

The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (1, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44723383)

You can't make a BASIC interpreter App and get it listed on the Apple store, for folks to download.

Any app that provides programmability is not allowed.... therefore; the TI-series calculators or Android devices will Always provide a better experience for tinkerers, and be the way to go if you want to learn about technology ---- until (or unless) Apple changes their ways, the iOS platform they have provided is essentially a black box: you are not meant to understand it, not meant to program it -- just to consume content on it.

It's not really a learning tool; although there is educational and informational content that can be consumed on the device to learn things.

Of course... Android is a better learning tool, and an iOS device such as a iPhone or iPad should not be the first one you get or your first choice: if you might be an engineering type and want to learn about, tinker with the technology, or see how it works.

No mention of Android anywhere in the article? (3, Informative)

kLimePie (3031053) | about a year ago | (#44723449)

Of course... Android is a better learning tool, and an iOS device such as a iPhone or iPad should not be the first one you get or your first choice: if you might be an engineering type and want to learn about, tinker with the technology, or see how it works.

Still halfway to reading the article, but I did a quick browser search. There are several instances of "ipad" in the article but no mention of the terms "Android" or even just "tablet". Why does Apple have such a lock on the educational system that it's effectively created a duopoly with Microsoft? Macs and now iPads for the rich or talented kids, Windows PCs for everybody else.

Re:No mention of Android anywhere in the article? (1)

udippel (562132) | about a year ago | (#44723519)

Why does Apple have such a lock on the educational system that it's effectively created a duopoly with Microsoft?

Consider yourself modded up. I only have no points left.

Re:No mention of Android anywhere in the article? (0)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year ago | (#44723535)

> Apple have such a lock on the educational system that it's effectively created a duopoly with Microsoft?

(Stephen throws a chair, then dances like a monkey for a bit ...) "Marketing ... marketing ... marketing ... marketing ...

It's all marketing. Not talking about the smiling guy with the gray blazer knocking on the door, either. *Aggressive* marketing. Make people think yours is the "must have" product and they'll say, "I must have that!"

Think about it: iPhones are nice, and I'm not knocking them, but at the end of the day, it's a freaking PHONE, people. There are plenty of other offerings that arguably as good (or better). But if you're part of the Crowd(tm), you want to be able to wave it at your friends and say, "yasss, I have the new iPhone."

Same with tablets, pads, coffee mugs and clothing.

Re:No mention of Android anywhere in the article? (1)

causality (777677) | about a year ago | (#44723635)

Make people think

If you do that then the marketing won't work! Why, they might even start evaluating their needs rationally...

Re:No mention of Android anywhere in the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723549)

Wrong question... right question: No mention of HP calculators? We all know they're far superior to TI.

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (1)

Mendenhall (32321) | about a year ago | (#44723451)

Any app that provides programmability is not allowed....

Well, that would be true if you couldn't get Python 2.7 for iOS. There are, in fact, two different full python implementations of python on the App store. I have used it to run my vxi-11 stack to talk to oscilloscopes and other data acquisition stuff. Works fine. The only annoyance is that you have to cut & paste large programs from email (for now) to get them in. You can edit code in the editor, though, so small programs can be done right in place.

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723493)

techBASIC is an amazing BASIC programming environment available from the App Store. It has good built in libraries for graphics and interfacing with Bluetooth sensors. It also has lots of useful example programs to start from. It is fun to tinker with and I think it would be a great tool for education.

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (5, Informative)

rhedin (91503) | about a year ago | (#44723509)

You can't make a BASIC interpreter App and get it listed on the Apple store, for folks to download.

Shhhh! Don't tell these guys [apple.com] because they don't know that-- they went ahead and wrote a BASIC interpreter for iPad in 2010 and it's now up to version 3.5.

There are also Ruby [apple.com] and Python [apple.com] interpreters available too and Pythonista is also a fully featured development environment.

rob.

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44723525)

Your Post is completely wrong.

Just go to the AppStore and search for "Basic" or do a google search.

See e.g. www.misoft.com, a nice Basic for the iPad and iPhone!

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723543)

You can get a LUA interpreter.

http://twolivesleft.com/Codea/

Or a visual programming editor for younger kids:

https://www.gethopscotch.com

Or one of the programmable calculator apps:

http://leibao.webs.com/Apps_by_Bao_Lei/Magical_Calculator.html
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i41cx+-rpn-calculator-printer/id289068865?mt=8

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (1)

papasui (567265) | about a year ago | (#44723573)

This is completely wrong, the App store has scripting interpreter's available.

Re:The trouble is Apple bans programming apps (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44723715)

The problem with educational research and the 'PhD' they produce is that they really know little about research.For instance much of the research is done on the elementary, if we are lucky, the middle school level, and then extrapolated to high school students. This makes some sense as the basis or pedagogy is young children, and we have only seriously been trying to actively educated the genealogy teenage population for less than a hundred years, but really, get with the times. Even medical researchers have realized that if you are going make statements about women and heart attacks, you have to actually do the research on women, not just men and extrapolate.

Then there is the anecdotal evidence of the research. This guy programmed his TI, so everyone did and the reason no one does is because of the iPad. That is the silliest statement in the history of silly statements. I went to a school where everyone was taught to program in grade 9. Very few opted to take programming courses after that. For most people programming involved copying code out of a magazine. Saying that kids don't code because of iPad is like saying kids don't read because their library has no interesting books. Kids who want to do something will.

In any case, the basic premise is false. One can program on an iPad. Like in the old days, on can run use the iPad as a terminal. I prefer this because too many times kids learn to use an IDE rather than program. Last time I taught a programming course to high school students I set up accounts on my web server and the used a client on the PC to code. I used my iPad for demonstration. In a month they programmed a online game. If kids are not learning program, the issue is not hardware, but online resources for them play. In this world of Clouds, it is a shame that we don't have online development tools.

For those who are religiously attached to the idea that programing means you are local, there are Python interpreters for the iPad. I haven't used on because I am not learning to program. I have my tools already set up on my laptop. If these Pythons interpreters are not real, I am sure someone will let me know.

I am sure there are not powerful, but when on is thinking of the so-called habits of mind, power is not neccesary. One big thing programing does is concretely illustrate why cause and effect. It forces a student to think about process, and how to break that process up into steps. This is a freakingly hard this for many students to get. Also, if you learn how to swap values in variables you know something that not many do. And looping has it uses.

The tablet computer is a tool, and it is a incredibly useful tool. It does too much, so for some students it will be a distraction. But the same was said about the calculator and the PC. I am thankful every day that my teachers were not afraid to let me play with technology just because it might be distracting or dangerous. I would not have had any of my jobs if my teachers had held back my education in this way, or if my parent thought having a computer at home would just mean I would play games all the time(which I did too much). Everyone says we have to educate kids in modern methods, but too many educators think those modern methods are what was in vogue when they were in high school.

The reality is that the only reason we still use TI calculators instead of phones or tablets is because educators want to give the mathematically illiterate an equal opportunity, but want control what the machine can do. Otherwise they would just let students have a useful tool, like an HP.

It's Just Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723401)

If TI went to Apple and said, "let us integrate our graphing software with your iOS devices, like maps, etc.—$1 licensing per iPad," Apple would.

not that kind of device (2)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#44723405)

The ipad is not meant to be that kind of device. It replaces lugging around heavy text books. It mostly replaces lugging around a laptop. It's a conduit for researching on the web. But it's not a device particularly for hacking, computer programming and so forth. Would it be nice to have a device good at both? Sure, but it doesn't mean the ipad isn't great at what it is. Not everyone wants to be a programmer.

Re:not that kind of device (1)

terrab0t (559047) | about a year ago | (#44723585)

I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer—should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think.

— Steve Jobs in Robert X. Cringley’s “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview” [youtube.com]

iPad wasn't sold as a device to teach programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723411)

Stupid article - fits in the hate Apple category. iPad was never sold to educational facilities to teach programming - so pointing out that it will not facilitate that is stupid.

Re:iPad wasn't sold as a device to teach programmi (2)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#44723517)

Stupid Anonymous Coward - fits in the Apple Fanboy category. Users naturally see the iPad as a computer - that's what it is, right? And it's assumed that a computer can do everything than a calculator can, making the calculator obsolete. The Fine Article points out that this is not the case, and that teachers, parents and students should think about this when deciding what to promote in the classroom.

Fact is that the iPad is a gimped consumer toy compared to a computer or calculator, great for glossy illustrations in elementary school, but when it's time to do some heavy lifting, it falls short.

Framing (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#44723419)

"The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools..."

Now get the new and improved panacea that I personally endorse. That other panacea is crap.

Re:Framing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723603)

I don't take it that way.

It seams as though once a month, there's a story about some school system buying iPads for their students. And there is this idea that technology == better education. It's just another symptom of the US' tendency to just throw money and technology at a problem and thinking it'll solve problems.

And yet schools systems who don't do that excel - See Finland's.

I think that's the point of the article writer. There is a cheaper alternative to the iPad (or any tablet) that allows for a better and deeper learning experience. And there aren't too many mindless distracting games that can be played on the calculator either - and NO Internet browsing!

Re:Framing (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44723703)

"The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools..."

Now get the new and improved panacea that I personally endorse. That other panacea is crap.

I think that's more than a bit unfair as a characterization of the argument here.

iPads have been getting a lot of hype from the media, from school districts, etc. for years as something that will "revolutionize" education or something, i.e., a panacea that will make it easier for student to learn, will solve numerous problems with education, will make classrooms full of happy unicorns and rainbows, etc.

The present article is NOT claiming that the TI-83 has anywhere near that (supposed) revolutionary educational value for iPads. It's a specific critique of a specific feature absent from iPad-like technologies, namely the ability for students to play with programming their devices easily -- and, on a broader scale, just having a more "open" culture for being able to interact with a device, rather than just getting pre-packaged educational "modules" approved through some sort of hierarchy or authority.

I don't get the sense that the author here thinks that iPad technologies can't have some significant benefits. He's just proposing that adding on the ability to do X with educational technologies in general (note: no specific one offered as a "panacea") might create even more educational possibilities.

There are other jobs than programming (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44723423)

Some people can't seem to understand that. There are lots of possible career fields outside of computers and since the iPad is more than a calculator it's awesome for people to discover how things work and what else is out there in the world

Re:There are other jobs than programming (2)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#44723565)

Did you read the fine article? No you didn't. This guy is not a programmer, he's not been programming since that calculator. He's an English teacher.

For those like me who did not become programmers, whose notebooks of code and illustrations sat untouched in a musty basement for the last decade, learning to program taught habits of mind that persist to this day in small yet vital ways.

His point is that iPad is a dumb device meant for passive intake of information, but many still assumes it's more advanced than the old calculators, thus a better tool for students.

Re:There are other jobs than programming (1)

ze_jua (910531) | about a year ago | (#44723575)

Yes. but computers are everywhere. On your desk. In your bag. In your car. In your watch. In your TV. In the soil moisture sensor my father uses in his farm. etc.

Computers are today's paper. Software is the pen. If you don't know programming basics, you are limited to use pre-printed forms and you can only check the predefined boxes. There is no "additional informations" field.

Everyone know how to draw some lines on a blank paper sheet. Writing TI-83 programs is the same skill for today's world.

Re:There are other jobs than programming (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44723779)

So what? Why wouldn't we come to a point where people would have to understand extremely basic programming as part of the main curriculum? We already ask them to do so for their native language, usually a second one, plus subjects like math. Programming is becoming fundamental to the society we live in, and the fact most people don't even know what programming is (well, apart from seeing it as some form of arcane art) could easily become problematic in the future.

Plus, the point is that if you want to try it out, the option is there. On an iPad, there is no option.

Why are you using iPads? (2)

nashv (1479253) | about a year ago | (#44723435)

If only there was an open source system, with freely downloadable resources, and could run a standard simple programming language like Python.

Oh wait, there's this Android thing...

Re:Why are you using iPads? (1)

nashv (1479253) | about a year ago | (#44723675)

I didn't actually check this, but I am willing to bet that the cheapest android tablet ever [ubislate.com] is, at 35$, still a more powerful programming platform than any calculators.

Look at techBASIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723441)

TechBASIC ( www.byteworks.us ) is an amazing BASIC programming environment for the iPad that is available on th App Store. It has built in libraries for things like graphics and interfacing with Bluetooth devices. It is an ideal educational environment.

Develop vs. Distribute (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about a year ago | (#44723445)

writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.

This is highly misleading, bordering on bullshit. Too many ANDs in that statement, and the second two clauses are really two aspects of one clause that the author is breaking out to rhetorically exaggerate the difficulty. You can develop for iOS without getting your stuff featured on the App Store, and you can develop for the iOS Simulator without enrolling in the paid developer program.

Pythonista (4, Informative)

rhedin (91503) | about a year ago | (#44723473)

Sounds like someone needs to take a look at Pythonista [omz-software.com] - a full featured development environment, including code editor with syntax highlighting and code completion, interactive prompt, support for graphics and a touch interface, with full featured libraries including math and text processing; runs on iOS (iPhone and iPad) you can even export the app you've developed and have running on your iPad to Xcode so that you can build it for submission to Apple's App Store.

It's a staple on my iPad and has been for a year or so.

Sounds like a bit more useful than a graphing calculator.

rob.

I keep my 1997 ti-83 next to my 2007 imac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723477)

When I need to do some quick graphing or output verification, the calculator is more familiar than loading octave and trying to recall the language and how to display a graph.
That's mainly because I used this single calculator throughout middleschool, highschool, and college, whereas I had never been exposed to any of the differing math packages before college.
Using it for a complicated or computationally-intensive program is just silly, however. Computing splines of just ten points takes it around 30 seconds, and uncommented labels and gotos very quickly become a maze.

I do think that the article has a good point in that students find a lot of good reasons to learn to program their calculators, from showing off to friends, to modifying games, to automating boring math problems. If those are all obviated by packaged apps, and programming has a high barrier to entry, I think fewer will explore the capabilities of their machines.

I've been using unix exactly as long as I've been using OSX. When I want it to do something, I read man pages, google, and often add something to my bashrc or vimrc.
My OSX environment consists of some pretty icons in the dock. I guess I haven't really ever tried to make it do anything new. What would I want it to do and why?

What?!? (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about a year ago | (#44723479)

First, I don't believe the iPad is a panacea of education. I see it as another tool, not one to replace them all. Second, the only part of the summary with regard to programming for the iPad (or any iOS device) that's valid is the "prior to distribution" part. You can develop and deploy apps locally without being a registered developer and without Apple oversight. The only time you hit that obstacle is when you go to distribute the app, and guess what? Apple has a program for universities at least so student developers can publish through their school's dev license. Sure, still has to pass muster, but that's just another boundary condition and learning moment. Certainly no real roadblocks to learning how to develop apps in objective-c in the classroom. What a bunch of FUD!

iPads are lacking proper parental controls too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723485)

My kids have MacBook Air and iPads. The MBA has a nice setting to limit the time spent on the device - both in duration and hours of the day. This is nice because we can reach a consensus and keep enough time for offline play and lessons. But the iPad (and iPhones) have no such limit. It's frustrating to police the iPads "by hand" and they are a powerful temptation for the kids. No book reading or homework gets done when iPads are available. This is a weak spot IMO.

Re:iPads are lacking proper parental controls too (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#44723737)

The kids too busy updating their Facebook statuses? Can't do that on a programmable calculator that I know of...

regular sci calc ti-83 ipad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723507)

along with pen and paper.. that's all we had.. tfa author had to buy one for 8th grade algebra? what the flyin fuck? you don't even need a calculator for algebra. i didn't get a scientific calculator (pretty basic one) til trig & geometry (took concurrently, after 2 years of algebra)

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723559)

That's yet another person with sour grapes about the future. "When I was a boy, I had to walk 2 miles to get to my school", well now I don't walk 3,5 kilometres.

Not all the people in the world want to learn programming. When they do, they will do it at home usually on their computer. Have you ever tried writing a piece of software with a flimsy tablet's virtual keyboard? I'm a programmer, and just writing a dozen pages of design text (let alone code) will cost me 4x the time it would take on a real keyboard (and don't give me that crap about keeping your physical keyboard with you - just go buy a laptop, seriously!). About as bad as my experiences with the TI devices ;)

The graphing calculator was meant to help you graph things mathematically. Not code.
The iPad is meant to be an all-rounder "good enough for most people" kind of device. Not meant to develop for it, especially not on it.

You had to code on your TI because you didn't had the money to have something better to code upon. And it was kind of cool to code on it, as you lugged it all around.
You can still code for your iPad, except you'd need to code on a computer, and then transfer it to your iPad. And seriously, $100 to code per year is about the price of cup of joe per week. PER WEEK. If you have a passion, just go ahead, bite the bullet and freaking code! It's 3 times cheaper than your cheapest iPad! And it will work on all the other fruity devices. :)
And here, I'm not even talking about the free (as in beer) Android development! Harder to setup, less intuitive, but there's FAQs and frag, again, if you want to code, JUST FREAKING DO IT!

Then, there's the pedagogical part. Other people RIGHTFULLY noticed they can use this for text books. But they also can use it in most courses. Your TI will mostly be used in math-oriented courses, and even there, only up to the first or second university year. After that, you need much more complex devices, as, I don't know if you have noticed, the schools are slowly improving and touching even more complex grounds. Graphing will get you up to a certain level, but not really that far. At one point, you need better tools.

Finally, the learning by itself part. Not everyone is good at that. I don't want to impede on people's creativity, but these ones will certainly learn how to channel their creativity in whatever tool they can find, including programming if they feel ever so inclined. (Again pointed out) there ARE development tools for iPad. You CAN learn to code on iPad. It's just not the best. Besides, I had to purchase my TI graphing calculator (thrice, as it broke down). I had to purchase my personal computer. Now people are being GIVEN iPads and tablets. How can you hinder creativity by giving something at one point (yes I can see many ways, but is this really a good point?)

That kind of old coot (probably my age) just gets on my nerves at some point. Geez. Learn to live in your damn millennia!

XCode is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723607)

> writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account...

I've never once paid anything to be a member of Apple's developer minions. You can download Xcode without being registered as a developer. (Let's check.... Open AppStore, not signed in, search, yes, there it is. Although it shows as already installed. Shared screen on another Mac, search, yes, there it is, free.)

Can't view porn on a calculator (1)

wildzeke (191754) | about a year ago | (#44723625)

The only porn I can view on a calculator is BOOBS.

The iPad is no good for that sort of tinkering (1)

trumpetplayer (520581) | about a year ago | (#44723645)

The iPad is very clearly the wrong hardware for the purpose. These days we have much better hardware for the purpose in terms of both suitability and cost than any graphics calculator including Arduino, Raspberry Pi and BeagleBoard and the like. The list is endless and great.

Another "journalist" (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44723683)

Another "journalist" who can't be arsed to do a trivial google search to check the facts behind the thesis of his article. You can program in python, ruby, octave, or several other languages on an iPad. Even one of several variants of basic, if you want. If you really love the TI-83 you can even emulate that.

Plus read textbooks, scientific papers, manuals, etc.

Kudos to the slashdot editors and the submitter for their incredulity as well.

Re (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723691)

Kind of funny, in 1999 my "programming class" in high school used apple IIe's.

I do remember using Ti-8X calculators in science classes, they had add-ons that could plot temperature etc.

I have never used an ipad, or any tablet for educational purposes, I imagine these are not being used for app programming classes.

Not everyone is looking to program on everything, if you are using a PC to search the web and type up papers, it doesn't mean you need to know how to design web pages and write windows programs.

I would have to look more into these schools issuing ipads to every student, it kind of seems like one of those "technology will make everything better, let's force every teacher and student to use it" even if it has no real benefit.

selection bias much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723705)

How about this; if the TI-83 were good for promoting computer literacy and programming-as-a-user mentality among the general masses, the iPad wouldn't exist.

16 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723795)

and my TI-89 still works. Doubt that ipad will work for that long. appl€ will have stopped selling the batteries long before then.

he's (mostly) wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723843)

ok, if you limit the scope of what you are looking at strictly to educational software, then MAYBE a case could be made, but I'd say this is just another example of "back in my day" syndrome...

sit a kid in front of an iPad, with no instruction whatsoever, and watch the kid learn - and by "kid" I'm happy to include kids as young as 3

Get off my lawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723847)

It worked for me so it's the best....everything else is crap. Just more of the same. We should really be careful with that printing press too. It's going to ruin civilization as people aren't ready to read things for themselves without someone helping them understand it.

Just more tax money wasted (1)

clustro (1811836) | about a year ago | (#44723853)

Give them a conventional laptop, install Linux and Octave on it, and bam, you've got the most powerful calculator you can get for zero software spending.

But these sorts of common sense approaches don't result in money being spent, so they never seem to come up in educational policy discussions.

Premise flawed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723865)

Authors premise is flawed.

I agree with author that idevices are too simple and place barriers for casual geeks to tweak.

Apple dev account not required!
Apple guidlines are not required!

SDK is freely available.
Can install on personal or friend devices without dev license.

Only barrier is using a Mac. A $499 new mac mini or used mac is not massively huge.

Dev license is inly requied for mass distribution on their appstore.

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