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134 comments

Is are (5, Funny)

SIR_Taco (467460) | about a year ago | (#44721783)

Is are a free English and grammar course too?

Re:Is are (3, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44721871)

Hey, all your base are belong to us.

Re:Is are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722051)

someone set up us the bomb!

Re:Is are (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44724261)

Guys, your English is horrible. It makes me wonder if you even have your main screen turn on when you type.

Re:Is are (0)

UBfusion (1303959) | about a year ago | (#44721903)

Yes, and it's called Slashdot Grammar Nazis Open Courses (SGNOC).

(By the way, the correct syntax is "Are there any free ..." or "Is there any free ...").

Re:Is are (3, Funny)

Lotana (842533) | about a year ago | (#44722347)

Are you implying that beyond feeling the usual smugness, I could also lovingly stare at a certificate on a wall proving my superiority to the grammar-challenged heathens?!

Where do I sign up? I believe that I have enough narcissism to qualify!

Re:Is are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722379)

SGNOC 101

Are: use for plural.
Is: use for singular.

Are there any free grammar courses?
Is there a free grammar course?

Re:Is are (1)

dbraden (214956) | about a year ago | (#44722471)

Yes, and it's called Slashdot Grammar Nazis Open Courses (SGNOC).

(By the way, the correct syntax is "Are there any free ..." or "Is there any free ...").

How would "Is there any free videos..." be correct?

Re:Is are (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44724509)

Is there any free videos source available online?

Re:Is are (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722811)

I'm a Grammar Jew you insensitive clod!

Re:Is are (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44723617)

You clearly haven't passed the SGNOC exam. The correct form is "Is there a course ...". "Is" is used for singular subjects, as in course and "are" is used for plural subjects as in courses . One could say "Is there a course", but never "Is there any courses", and only "Are there any courses ..." but never "Is there any courses ..."

Re:Is are (-1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#44721997)

Wasn't Ohio the state that legislated the value of pi to equal 3 as part of education reform?

Re:Is are (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#44722007)

No.

Re:Is are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722097)

Indiana wanted to make it 3.2 according to one of my favorite series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFNjA9LOPsg [youtube.com] .

Re:Is are (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44722123)

No state did that. IIRC there was a bill long ago in the Indiana state legislature years ago (1800's) that would have done so but it wasn't ever voted on. In 1961, the the novel a stranger in a strange land commented on a fictional law in Tennessee doing so but it was all fiction.

You are probably thinking of one of the email satires that spread back in the 90's when New Mexico was trying to supplant evolution with creationism.

cute graphic (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44721789)

but does it count to credits?

Re:cute graphic (4, Informative)

qubezz (520511) | about a year ago | (#44722119)

but does it count to credits?

Information about the actual course is located on https://www.coursera.org/course/calc1 [coursera.org]

Notable information is the class start date, August 23, and the result of taking the class, which is that you get a certificate signed by the instructor. The class is currently in progress (you're too late); the class lecture videos are much of the content are are on various instructor's YouTube channels.

What is checked into Github is the website and backend. There is no license that I can see for any content except (c) 2013, mooculus team, at the bottom of the site's non-doctype'd HTML. Math geeks can't nerd.

Re:cute graphic (1)

udippel (562132) | about a year ago | (#44723553)

How is it that so many readers seem to be struck by an overwhelming duplication virus today?

Re:cute graphic (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44723647)

How is it that so many readers seem to be struck by an overwhelming duplication virus today?

Re:cute graphic (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#44725313)

Low hanging fruit abounds.

Re:cute graphic (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44725351)

Who are you, and when did you see my fruit?

Re:cute graphic (1)

Jim Fowler (3036685) | about a year ago | (#44725301)

Wow! I'm surprised to see this on slashdot. I've added a license to the github repo.

BIG DEAL!!! (0)

wrackspurt (3028771) | about a year ago | (#44721791)

WOW! Now in 1997 this is big news. Probably by 2013 or whatever there'll be hundreds of Calculus courses online and something like this won't be news at all.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44721855)

I think the big deal is "open source". Any other person, school, tutor, or whatever can grab the source and adapt it to what they need. IF they improve it and release it, it can be improved on again and again. This might make it more useful then existing programs available.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44721933)

Didn't see a license.

We've had a lot of stories about repository available on github != open source.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44721971)

The article summery says it is open source. Perhaps the author knows something about it or maybe they just assumed wrongly like you pointed out. If it is open source, I would say it is news worthy.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722001)

The article summery says it is open source.

Which means jack and shit when the Github repo contains no license. That means it's under the default "All rights reserved" per the Berne Convention until a license is explicitly specified.

Did anyone actually read the book? (3, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#44722731)

The colophon of the book states it clearly enough:
"This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ [creativecommons.org] or send a or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. If you distribute this work or a derivative, include the history of the document."
"The source code is available at: https://github.com/ASCTech/mooculus/tree/master/public/textbook [github.com] "

I guess the rush to post overwhelmed any curiosity in the material itself. Yes, the repetition "or send a or send a" exists in the textbook.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (1)

zidium (2550286) | about a year ago | (#44721965)

It's as free to use as Metallica's music, as it stands now.

It's 100% proprietary with full source disclosure, but that hardly makes it open source.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44722135)

The best I can find is a notation in the terms of service for the sign up page that directs to coursea.

They seem to lay claim to all the content for all the courses offered and do not allow any reproduction outside of personal use connected with taking the courses.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (1)

skids (119237) | about a year ago | (#44721981)

Judging from the "usefulness" of math-related articles on Wikipedia, which immediately descend into obscure minutia at the cost of comprehensibility, I'm thinking a model where professional educators, rather than either professional mathemeticians or laypeople, review and approve changes might have some benefits. We'll see how that works out. Hopefully they will have responsive project administators, because considering I found two potentially confusing things on the first two pages of Chapter 1 of the book, I expect the starting quality of the product is about average. Which would be OK except that math texts tend to suck on average. If they just dumped it on github without manpower to back it up, though, it won't improve very fast.

I'm glad they are experimenting with this route, but what's missing in developing educational materials, other than a dirth of graphics talent, is actually testing the materials on students to find out what materials actually work. This is done by teachers during the course of their jobs, but in a mostly uncontrolled and nearly anecdotal level. An organized scientific approach to evaluating course materials is sorely lacking. It's not ethically challenging like drug testing, since you can always remediate after a bad lesson.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44723103)

I think the math articles are quite good on Wikipedia, often better than what used to be available in professional math encyclopedias that were still being sold through the 1990s. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not a text book, it is expecting that you already have a high level of understanding and need reference material on the topic.

The book is written by math enthusiasts. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about a year ago | (#44723155)

"An organized scientific approach to evaluating course materials is sorely lacking."

I agree.

Most people don't care about mathematics directly, they care about how mathematics can help them do something they want to do. But apparently the Calculus book [osu.edu] is written by math enthusiasts. Here is an example from page 9, the 2nd page of text:

"Warning A function is a relation (such that for each input, there is exactly one output) between sets and should not be confused with either its formula or its plot."

Some people aren't interested in accomplishing anything, they just like speaking in a manner that is foreign to most people. For example, there are people who like ancient Greek and speak it to other people who like ancient Greek. They like doing something other people can't do. They see it as putting them in a class by themselves, which they think is superior. But speaking ancient Greek is a mostly useless hobby for them; it's not really helpful in a general way. If you go to such a person and ask what they have learned because of knowing ancient Greek, they often have nothing useful to say. Why? Because they aren't interested in doing anything useful, they are interested in pretending to be superior, or in living in a world by themselves.

Re:The book is written by math enthusiasts. (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about a year ago | (#44723783)

...; it's not really helpful in a general way.

This also covers all sports, almost all games, pretty well all art, music, and literature, and just relaxing in the sun.

Personally, I only do the "helpful" stuff as a means to be able to do the important stuff.

That avoids the question. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about a year ago | (#44724789)

You are not considering the question of whether the Calculus book is helpful in learning mathematics.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (1)

udippel (562132) | about a year ago | (#44723613)

It's not ethically challenging like drug testing, since you can always remediate after a bad lesson.

http://memexplex.com/meme/1746/ [memexplex.com]

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year ago | (#44721869)

WOW! Now in 1997 this is big news. Probably by 2013 or whatever there'll be hundreds of Calculus courses online and something like this won't be news at all.

Uh, it is news because AFAIK it is the first coursea MOOC (actually the first MOOC afaik) othat is making everything available with github. Every other MOOC I've seen delivers its content in a closed/semi-closed delivery platform. The closest thing I've seen are the MIT Open CourseWare materials made available via iTunes, but those are just content, not actual courses with live exams and grading.

But hey, don't let that stop people from nihilistically dismiss this good stuff. Whatever gets them through the day.

Re:BIG DEAL!!! (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#44721921)

Except that most MOOCs moved away from open source and so this is news if a big university has decided to go back to the totally open source route.

credits? (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44721839)

These online and free courses, do any of them apply to credits earned towards a degree or are they mostly an opportunity to learn something new or relearn (refresh) something you already should know?

I can see where just knowing a little more about certain subjects can enormously help people. Even when they should already know it but forget because they haven't used it for so long. For instance, I was trying to figure out how much sand I needed to cover a base for my patio and had to actually look up a formula instead of being able to remember what was needed to figure it out on my own (sand in my area is sold by the ton, not square or cubic foot). Another time, I was attempting to figure out how large of a square pipe (tube) I would need to match the flow of volume a round pipe on an exhaust stack would have and had to once again spend time looking up the formulas. I already had square tube on hand so I was looking at saving some cash.

I imagine that people use this type of information every day in their jobs and someone fresh out of school would probably be able to figure it out on their own in a few minutes. But for someone who is 17, would any of them apply to credits for college or just be a tool to give them a leg up for when they go?

Re:credits? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44722023)

well

I just signed up for a switching power supply class on this website

its something I sort of know based on following by example, but hard theory and having a base on why things work the way they do would help me in my profession as we gravitate to that technology

whats to loose? some video game and hulu time?
whats to gain? a better understanding of something that is going to be more of a part of my job as time marches on?

sure I will put in 9 weeks and get a free certificate, make my life a bit easier, maybe get a little nod at review time and better myself a little

Re:credits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44724099)

Well you take assessment test when you enter university in america so you could potentially test into a higher calculus, or you could take a clep exam and get credits for it.

Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (4, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44721857)

While I enjoyed the proof techniques and the clean structure of the theory, I have had almost zero use for it in 20 years of IT research and consulting. Modern algebra or set theory would have been far more useful, but I had to each that to myself...

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (4, Insightful)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#44721905)

Calculus may not be directly useful in many fields but it trains one to approach problem solving in an organized way and with attention to detail.
Physics is similar in that even if you never use specific facts learned in the class, the approach to problem solving stays with you -if you are the sort who realizes that the physics approach is generally applicable and not limited to solving physics homework problems.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722373)

Yet more evidence that "advanced" mathematics makes people stupid.

Thank you for validating my hypothesis.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44722497)

Calculus may not be directly useful in many fields but it trains one to approach problem solving in an organized way and with attention to detail. Physics is similar in that even if you never use specific facts learned in the class, the approach to problem solving stays with you -if you are the sort who realizes that the physics approach is generally applicable and not limited to solving physics homework problems.

s/Calculus/Programing/
s/physics/Programing/gi

Solving any problem by implementing a solution in a computer, one approaches the problem in a far more organized way and with attention to details lost even in Calculus. Indeed, a small child creating an efficient curve plotting algorithm by breaking it into segments will discover much calculus by accident, and be far more learned of its actual applications and far more rewarded by the output as well -- It's a real world application; Humans learn best if something is useful immediately.

Physics is similar in that you can utilize the specific facts as you learn to program them to create games or simulations. In fact, teaching physics with a game engine is so bloody brilliant even middle-school age kids flock to its light like moths to flame and take to it like fish to water... Sadly such courses are so high up on a pedestal as to require a tuition to delve into their "lofty" depths. Indeed, one will create a universe with new laws of physics simply by creating a Mario clone, and to make Jumps and falls and fireballs bounce more realistically? Even elementary school age kids stumble upon physics AND find applications for it immediately by learning to code.

Programming has all of the organizational and problem solving skills -- and more -- than those mere applications of programming called Calculus and Physics.

The broader benefit to nearly all other fields of learning is that you can immediately apply your knowledge in "real world" implementations. Geography? With a little code my teenage cousin used the GEOIP database to map distribution of IP address allocation by country onto Google Earth -- She got an A on her paper on IP addresses as national assets. Most IT workers I've met in the real world can't code their way out of a Fizz Buzz, but they should be required able to, IMO. In IT programming is most useful: When there is a problem with no readily available programmatic solution you can create one, obviously. And here again the GP's statement of set theory being more important due to its more elementary nature holds true -- Information theory would consider grouping and filtering sets of things a less complex, thus more applicable, problem space; Statistical Calculus being a subset of this.

In this age where even construction workers routinely work with computers the essential elementary skill is Programming, and all the others truly secondary.
Realize the truth: There are no divisions between the fields of learning, but some spheres of knowledge expand further than others: Calculus and Physics are not as widely applicable as Set theory and especially not Algebra and Programming.

TL;DR: Calculus and Physics are shit at teaching problem solving compared to even BASIC.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#44723111)

It's true that programming requires structured thought and attention to detail, but the context tends to be limited by the language you're learning. The goal of programming is generally to figure out how to use the available language syntax to produce a specific result. With physics, for example, the syntax is a set of laws that apply to almost everything in the universe, a context within which we all have daily experience whether we realize it or not (physics often reveals that context to the student).

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44724901)

If you think a language is its syntax, you're doing it wrong.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44724357)

TL;DR: Calculus and Physics are shit at teaching problem solving compared to even BASIC.

You should move the TLDR to the beginning of the post. If it's at the bottom, it's useless as I probably have already read the complete text. Unless you wanted to say "to summarize", but then you should say that instead.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44723849)

Calculus may not be directly useful in many fields but it trains one to approach problem solving in an organized way and with attention to detail.

Even if "training [people] to approach problem-solving in an organized way and with attention to detail" is an important goal for math education, it used to be accomplished in high school geometry with the study of formal proofs, a task that teaches a much more structured way of approaching problem-solving. In many school curricula, that goal for geometry is largely dead.

Calculus is a collection of useful tools, whose theoretical basis is generally poorly understood except by those who take even more advanced math. It's not about solving problems in an organized or structured way: it's about finding the right "tool" for the problem at hand. And the further you get along in a "practical" calculus curriculum (e.g., one oriented toward engineers) rather than a "theoretical" calculus curriculum, the further you often get into mathematical "hacks" and "tricks" designed to solve specific types of problems. (See, in particular, most differential equations courses.)

I don't at mean to demean an engineer's approach to calculus -- those courses are taught the way they are to given practical tools useful in many situations. There's no reason why most engineers need to be familiar with all of the structured theoretical underpinnings of the math tools they use.

But I'd hardly say that most calculus courses taught today (usually emphasizing practical applications of a limited set of tools) are anything special in teaching "organization" and "attention to detail" in problem solving. Why is taking a calculus course any different from taking, say, another semester or two of algebra... or programming... or physics... or accounting... or, well, anything that causes you to have to solve problems involving more than a few steps at a time?

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44723929)

And by the way, if we are trying to force some advanced math course onto a large portion of the population, I would recommend a course in statistics, probability, and data representation/manipulation far and above a basic course in calculus.

The chances that the average person is ever going to use calculus to solve a problem in his/her everyday life (i.e., outside of scientific or engineering work) is vanishingly small... unless he/she is a real nerd.

On the other hand, a knowledge of how statistics, probability, and data manipulations work will give the average person insight into numerous articles every day in the newspaper, will likely help him/her evaluate numerical arguments presented in a job situation or some financial offer in an advertisement, and will allow him/her to understand numbers that are offered in support of scientific studies, political arguments, etc. It can even help in Vegas....

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about a year ago | (#44721909)

Yes, IT is a terrible field for making use of calculus. Try engineering, especially fields like control systems. My boss has a PhD in control engineering and he can basically take a signal and turn it inside out and backwards to find out whatever he wants because he knows off the top of his head what kind of curve he'll get if he, say, integrates the signal twice.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44721991)

Or game development [kerbalspaceprogram.com] .

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44721931)

Take the linear algebra mooc, or the mathematical philosophy one.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722059)

yep, calculus is only useful if you work on things that change...

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44722137)

IT may not leverage it that much, but CS most certainly does. Computer graphics, signal theory, machine learning, computer vision, optimization, they all make extensive use of calculus.

I'm rather surprised you didn't have an algebra course. They usually show up simultaneously.

Sadly, calculus is not all that useful...TO YOU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722183)

To you.

To engineers, physicists, astronomers and a bunch of other fields I'd say calculus is extremely useful.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | about a year ago | (#44722281)

So you never care about the rate that things are changing,or weighted averages? Calculus is the rule book for dynamic systems, and you say it's not useful? Shit man, I'm not in IT, but even a layman doing simple personal finances could benefit from knowing calculus.

Or maybe your job is just very applied without much background theory. Hmm.. This page [wikipedia.org] seems to have a bit of calculus involved.

It's really important now (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44722423)

No, you really need calculus in computing today if you're going to get above the peon level. This is recent. I went through Stanford for a MSCS in 1985, and it was all discrite math - number theory, automata, mathematical logic. You didn't even need an FPU back then. That was sort of true until the mid-1990s or so. Then it changed.

Today, it's machine learning, machine vision, deep neural nets, Bayesian statistics, adaptive control... That's all number-crunching intensive. Today, advertising requires calculus. The algorithms behind Google, Facebook, and Amazon all involve heavy number-crunching. So does most of the "big data" stuff. Then there's quantitative finance.

There's an outsourcing firm in India which starts 23,000 people on a six month course in programming twice a year. That's the competition at the low end. You need to know a lot more than they do, and that does not mean knowing Javascript quirks.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | about a year ago | (#44722887)

While I enjoyed the proof techniques and the clean structure of the theory, I have had almost zero use for it in 20 years of IT research and consulting.

Client: I've got several trains and they all need to meet a timetable. How would I do this?

Typical IT guy: well, of course you figure out how far your train goes when your driver presses harder on the pedal and you increment a counter until you get to the total distance of your first stop. This gives you the time it takes to get from stop A to stop B at different pedal pushes. You can do this for a series of points between stop A and stop B to see if your train is running a bit early or late and compensate by pressing harder or softer on the pedal.

Client: but what if it doesn't match up exactly with one of the points in-between?

Typical IT guy: Then you make an educated guess based on the weighted average of the points on either side.

I joke, but this is unfortunately how a lot of programming is done in the real world due to lack of maths knowledge...

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44723117)

You are absolutely right. Calculus leads to differential equations. Differential equations are used a lot in the natural sciences but not that much in computer or social sciences. More students would do far better would be a curriculum designed around statistics not differential equations.

Naive set theory should have been part of your middle school curriculum reinforced in college. Axiomatic set theory, if you need it, is always an elective.

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (1)

tulcod (1056476) | about a year ago | (#44723277)

I have double feelings about having to quote maddox [thebestpag...iverse.net] about this, but he put it quite succinctly:

First of all, if you're leading your life in such a way that you never have to do math, congratulations, you are a donkey.

Why is math the only discipline that has to put up with this bullshit? People gladly learn art, music, literature and geography. You'll even nod like a happy idiot when you learn what a haiku is, and you never complain or whine about how you'll never use this in your "life." When is the last time you wrote a haiku, asshole?

Re:Sadly, calculus is not all that useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723671)

Most IT work does not require an advanced understanding of anything. I am not even sure a college degree should be required for most IT work, instead a targeted 2 year training program would likely be completely adequate. A lot of people are perfectly happy with this kind of job, which is fine.

But if you want to begin to understand how stuff actually works, and be qualified to work any field like engineering or applied sciences: then Calculus is just the beginning. Calculus is where math really just starts to gets interesting.

What's most important to learn? (3, Insightful)

UBfusion (1303959) | about a year ago | (#44721887)

I'm all for Open Courses, especially when the Universities, Professors and Research are funded by the state (I'm not talking for US only). However, IMO the issue is, what should the priorities for self-learners be?

Math is considered as the language of science, but sometimes I wonder whether open courses on human relationships, empathy, self-help and helping each other (i.e. things that our parents taught us and are seldom, if ever touched upon by today's parents), and most importantly, detoxification from technology (I'm thinking of the billions of man-hours spent on texting, sexting and the so-called "social networking") might be more important for today's youth.

Re:What's most important to learn? (2)

FGT (2741971) | about a year ago | (#44721907)

A MOOC on 'detoxification from technology' appeals to my sense of irony.

Re:What's most important to learn? (1)

lancelet (898272) | about a year ago | (#44721985)

So, with science-literacy declining in the USA, you would like even greater emphasis placed on non-science courses, focusing on human relationships, empathy, etc.?

I'm not opposed to those kinds of courses. We're all human and need the things you're advocating. However, there's only so far that a positive outlook, a friendly smile and an open personality will get humanity before some poor, lonely, anti-social schmuck, who wasn't invited to The Party, has to sit down and actually get The Work done. Ultimately, The Work often involves math (or logical thinking, which is just math) at some level, no matter how many layers of Human Resources, Sales, Management, Legal, Advertising and Accounting might be plastered haphazardly on top of it.

Re:What's most important to learn? (1)

INT_QRK (1043164) | about a year ago | (#44723651)

Just got and used mod points a couple of days ago. Damn. Well said anyway.

Re:What's most important to learn? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44722035)

not all of us are youth

if you bothered to investigate the site they have many classes

what pisses me off is the nearly 1.5 grand spent on my wife's required "wellness" class that nearly 2/3rds of the 200$ book was telling your boyfriend you have herpies

god damed 35 years old, been married for nearly 8, what is the point of this for adult students, none, just take it and shut up... thanks for your money, the teacher only held class once every 2 weeks

worthless

Re:What's most important to learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722421)

Calculus and statistics--you need both. Even if you don't really use them much, between them they allow you to understand almost any technical material and interpret it correctly.

Re:What's most important to learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722435)

Math is far from language of science. The past few days I've been working on a house as an extra pair of hands with limited knowledge on what I'm actually doing. The guys doing it obviously lacked any real math background considering their idea of measuring cuts was either heavy reliance tape measures or holding material up and marking it. I taught them some basic geometry and a little bit of trigonometry that as they informed me made the work really easy and saved a lot of money.

Sadly the approach mandatory education takes to teaching math is turning so many away from it that it's negligent to keep going like that. There's no reason why after someone has passed arithmetic that they should still have to solve everything on paper. Almost everyone has a cell phone that has a built in calculator or works with someone that does. Once you understand arithmetic you only really need to learn equations and their properties. Hell I never even seen the unit circle with trigonometry identities overlaid in school, found that on accident when googling something and was blown away by how much sense it made.

Re:What's most important to learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722569)

Let's educate against the sin of letter writing as well! It's not face to face and it doesn't use the relatively recent invention of telephones... Damn kids an their insistence of using typeface communication! Argh! What's next, carrier pigeons!? The world be damned!

The Language God Talks (3, Interesting)

Gim Tom (716904) | about a year ago | (#44721961)

Learning some calculus can give you insight into how the world works better than many other areas of mathematics.

Herman Wouk wrote a short book called The Language God Talks. The title came from a statement made to him by Richard Feynman when Wouk was interviewing him for some background on the Manhattan Project for Wouk's two books on World War II. In their first meeting Feynman asked Wouk if he knew calculus and Wouk said no. Feynman told him that he should learn it since, "It is the language God talks."

I am an engineer and while I didn't actually USE much calculus on a daily basis, it did help me understand the relationships and equations that I did use every day.

Re:The Language God Talks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722017)

Which god exactly? Surely not that tin-pot god that the Christians follow. And I doubt Krishna would be good at math either, nor Vishnu, and probably not Odin or Freya either. Let's face it, there needs to be a new math good.

Re:The Language God Talks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722077)

it would have to be a goddess, because it's not politically correct to have a man be better at something than any woman.

Re:The Language God Talks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722185)

I vote for Danica McKellar to be the math goddess.

Re:The Language God Talks (2)

godel_56 (1287256) | about a year ago | (#44722041)

Learning some calculus can give you insight into how the world works better than many other areas of mathematics.

I'd give that accolade to basic practical statistics, including evaluating gambling and other odds, risk, failure rates etc.

Re:The Language God Talks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722551)

What type of "basic practical statistics" are you doing that doesn't rely on calculus?

Let me guess: the kind that was derived using a boatload of assumptions expressed in the language of calculus and then written down (sans assumptions, intuition, and derivation) in a textbook. If you can't integrate, differentiate, and change variables then your stats will be severely limited and probably wildly incorrect since you don't actually understand what you're doing.

Re:The Language God Talks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44723283)

Sigh...to quote Einstein...
"...God doesn't play dice..." LOL! ;)

Re:The Language God Talks (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44724025)

Learning some calculus can give you insight into how the world works better than many other areas of mathematics.

I'd give that accolade to basic practical statistics, including evaluating gambling and other odds, risk, failure rates etc.

Absolutely. I'd much rather that we encouraged high school students wanting to take another math course to learn about practical statistics, probability, and data representation (and manipulation) rather than calculus.

Elementary calculus is a collection of useful tools for solving some more advanced problems that you can't solve with basic algebra. By itself, it gives you very little "insight into how the world works," unless you use it on a regular basis.

But let's face it -- when's the last time you saw an integral sign or some problem involving differentiation in the newspaper (or other mainstream media sources)? I'd hazard that greater than 95% of students who take a calculus course never use it in their everyday lives to understand anything. If they end up being a scientist or engineer of some sort, they might use it enough to get how it connects to the understanding of the complexities of the world... but for the vast, vast majority of calculus students, this will be simply lost.

On the other hand, how often do you see statistics quoted, percentages or other data breakdowns listed, graphs presented, etc. in a newspaper? The financial section alone is usually full of them. And yet unless a person took a dedicated stats course, the chances are that the only thing they know about statistics is the definition of mean, median, and mode. That is nowhere near enough knowledge to evaluate numerical arguments or information presented anywhere.

If people in general, or even journalists, were forced to take a course in statistics, we might have significantly better public arguments about just about everything. And we might have less nonsense where people just throw numbers at each other, and every side can offer their own stats that look equally plausible to the layman.

(And yes, by the way, I realize that "really" understanding statistics actually requires calculus, but I'd also argue that "really" understanding calculus and all those practical mathematical tools requires a knowledge of analysis that the vast majority of people using calculus don't understand. There are lots of things that could be taught about statistics, probability, and data representation without calculus, or perhaps by introducing some basic calculus ideas without all the detail given in a full-blown calculus course.)

Re:The Language God Talks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722073)

They only offer Calculus one though. I mean ... Calculus one is pretty elementary. I think I enjoyed Calculus two and three a lot more since the problems were a lot more interesting (e.g., 3D shapes etc)

Two questions (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about a year ago | (#44722125)

1) Do there exist easy methods to decide how good/effective/complete/accurate (add your own metric) an online course is? As the number of online courses grow, it would be nice to have some way to compare courses against each other. For example to decide which one(s) are more 'worthy' to invest ones time in.

2) Especially in public education, why isn't this type of course the norm by now? It's 2013, laptops, tablets etc are practically everywhere, so it isn't hard to have students follow an online course. Either directly over the internet, or using a local copy over a school's LAN. Using open source principles, efforts towards improving an online course can be pooled for the benefit of all its users. Yes I realize there's a big, commercial market out there for study material. And probably not all subjects lend themselves equally well to be taught (or put together) as an online course. But ultimately, all study material costs money, and schools/universities should have students in mind, not the interests of (commercial) book publishers.

Re:Two questions (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44722315)

2) Especially in public education, why isn't this type of course the norm by now?

Because of the massive dropout rate, and, relatedly, the need for intrinsic self-motivation.

Re:Two questions (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44724791)

Why force people to learn? Let them approach a subject when they are interested, motivated, and they will learn much more effectively. The drop-out rate is irrelevant; you can learn something from the first classes, which often state the basic principles or axioms of the subject. Sometimes it takes a while to understand those; perhaps you disagree with them and don't want to continue until you figure out why precisely.

Alfie Kohn writes in http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/tcag.htm [alfiekohn.org] :

Thus, students can be invited to participate in that process either as a negotiation (such that the teacher has the final say) or by simply permitting students to grade themselves. If people find that idea alarming, it’s probably because they realize it creates a more democratic classroom, one in which teachers must create a pedagogy and a curriculum that will truly engage students rather than allow teachers to coerce them into doing whatever they’re told.

He's making a case against grades; but the more general concern is about motivating students, not coercing them. Free MOOCs provide an opportunity to figure out how to use technology to make a class all things to all students; if some students decide they've learned enough, for now, after the first class, so what? They can come back to the subject later, when they're motivated.

Re:Two questions (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44724841)

Why force people to learn?

Because people are willing to pay you, a lot, to force them to learn.

Re:Two questions (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44724815)

1) Do there exist easy methods to decide how good/effective/complete/accurate (add your own metric) an online course is? As the number of online courses grow, it would be nice to have some way to compare courses against each other. For example to decide which one(s) are more 'worthy' to invest ones time in.

Probably the best "metric" is word-of-mouth.

Re:Two questions (1)

Jim Fowler (3036685) | about a year ago | (#44725295)

1) Do there exist easy methods to decide how good/effective/complete/accurate (add your own metric) an online course is?

For us, we get quite a bit of data from MOOCulus; you can see a bit about the "big data" issues at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj-C0JVY6mY [youtube.com] For others, the Quality Matters Rubric [qualitymatters.org] is a set of 8 general standards and 41 specific standards used to evaluate the design of online and blended courses.

2) Especially in public education, why isn't this type of course the norm by now?

The majority of the students taking math at OSU are already using some sort of online homework tool.

Someone will not be pleased. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722181)

Textbook companies will start crying out and complaining that Ohio State giving out free material impedes their ability to gouge students.

The killer feature are the online exercises! (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | about a year ago | (#44722333)

The online exercises for this course are great! They change every time so one can practice until one has mastered the concept. This was the real missing component in these online math courses. Most textbooks I've looked at don't have answers to exercises which makes it difficult to check that one has truly mastered the material without a teacher to act as a gatekeeper to the right answers.

Lecture, textbook, problem set - that's all? (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44722397)

These "online courses" are mostly the same old crap repackaged for online distribution. Videos of actual blackboards, in some cases. It's not a semi-intelligent program teaching you the subject [thejournal.com] , something that's quite feasible for calculus and much of basic math.

Re:Lecture, textbook, problem set - that's all? (1)

Jim Fowler (3036685) | about a year ago | (#44725279)

Videos of actual blackboards, in some cases.

The videos aim to be a lot more than blackboard talks; take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otW6HcxrRlY [youtube.com] for instance.

It's not a semi-intelligent program teaching you the subject

The exercises use a hidden Markov model to estimate whether the student has mastered a concept.

Want to learn it because my wife learned it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44722713)

I may not need to use calculus ever in programming because I don't build anything in matlab or what have you... But I do have an ego that gets bitch slapped every day when my wife can understand higher level math while I can't without spending a lot of time figuring out the logic behind it. But even though I want to learn it just so I don't feel worthless in the field of math, I don't want to one-up her at everything. I mean, I'm better at her at cleaning AND cooking :(

nice !! (1)

thephydes (727739) | about a year ago | (#44722717)

It covers most of the calculus we see here in our pre-tertiary Year 12 Maths B in Queensland, Australia, and some from year 12 Maths C. For those who don't know what that means 12B is mostly calculus and trig, 12C covers some calculus - volumes and arc length - with matrices, vectors, group theory, mechanics using calculus, decaying periodic functions. I'll be referring my students to this as a top-up.

I want credit (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about a year ago | (#44723051)

Yes, I think MOOCs are an interesting new educational paradigm. But if I'm going to spend time doing something at university level, then I'd like to get university-level trasnferable credit not just a certificate of completion. Otherwise its just another time-sucker like WoW.

Re:I want credit (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about a year ago | (#44723053)

*transferable

Re:I want credit (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | about a year ago | (#44723491)

Except that you actually learn something useful from it.

mooculus? (1)

kLimePie (3031053) | about a year ago | (#44723137)

https://mooculus.osu.edu

Is this the site for cows to learn differential equations?

Re:mooculus? (1)

Jim Fowler (3036685) | about a year ago | (#44725239)

It's a nod towards COWculus, "calculus on web" from http://cow.math.temple.edu/ [temple.edu]

Does that mean.... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44723503)

Interesting. If calculus professors are pushing online calculus courses instead of traditional in class courses and calculus hasn't had any really new developments in about 100 years, do we even need calculus professors anymore?

It would seem odd that this group of professors feel that MOOCs do as good of a job as they do at a fraction of the cost.

Overrated (1)

udippel (562132) | about a year ago | (#44723753)

While I have nothing against this laudable approach, I can't perceive it to be life-shattering.
Teaching in a university, I had to learn the nature of the large majority in front of me. They wouldn't exactly be interested in the subject matter, and neither motivated to invest any more minute than absolutely necessary. Especially so in the material advocated as 'recommended reading'.
Either it will be made easy-peasy, or the lim of the attrition rate for t towards the end of the course can be approximated by zero.

Oh yes, take the easy way out and mode me down (-1, negative teaching skills).

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