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Calculators vs. PDAs in the Classroom

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the crutches-for-the-weak-minded dept.

Education 550

TheMatt writes " is reporting about a new conflict perhaps emerging in classrooms: calculators v. PDAs. The article talks about how TI seems to be making their latest calculator more PDA-like, while PDAs are gaining TI-like functionality. A comment on current math education is this quote from the article: "When you have circles and ellipses, there is no way you'd be able to do this without a calculator," Jarvis said. "It helps us visualize what we're doing." Were the compass and geometry uninvented?"

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Fuck you, you fucking hippy! (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689596)

Get it in you!

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689597)


other conflicts? (0, Redundant)

jglow (525234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689602)

do other conflicts in the classroom include PDA functions that may help a student on an exam that aren't included in a calculator? I could see profs being concerned about students using thier PDA to cheat.

Re:other conflicts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689635)

Other than internet access, you can do pretty much anything with a calculator that you can with a PDA.

Re:other conflicts? (2, Insightful)

jglow (525234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689659)

I think internet access is the key element in this argument. Although web browsing on a PDA may not be extremely efficiant, a student can have a friend sitting infront of a computer at home relaying test questions through a messaging service. It's not that far-fetched.

Re:other conflicts? (2, Redundant)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689780)

In Alberta all high school students now use TI-83s (might be 83+ now). Some teachers would erease the memory before exams but I remeber one student who built a physics program that would take numbers for any formula and give you the answer. Now in university virtually everybody has these same calculators and we are allowed to use them in exams. Although I don't know of any specific circumstances I would not be surprised if someone had some programs on their calculator which gave them an "advantage" during exams. Using some cords and programs you could also hook these calculators up to your computer and get programs off the web.

PDA?? (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689606)

Like, why not just go straight cellular and connect to the internet or your home beowulf cluster?

The downside of being a geek is you don't know whether to lose face admitting your system is down and you can't reach it -or- admit you really didn't do your homework, thus can't download it.

Re:PDA?? (3, Funny)

DocSnyder (10755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689696)

Like, why not just go straight cellular and connect to the internet or your home beowulf cluster?

With WLAN or Bluetooth networking, you could even build a classroom-wide Beowulf cluster _with_ PDAs...

Why stop there? (3, Insightful)

waytoomuchcoffee (263275) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689697)

Like, why not just go straight cellular and connect to the internet or your home beowulf cluster?

Why stop there? Put a webMathematica [] server up, and access it though your PDA.

TI-86 (3, Funny)

sheepab (461960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689615)

I always remember playing SimCity on my friends TI-86 during math class, does this mean I can play it on a PDA too?! Anyone else play SimCity on a TI? It was pretty damned good for a calc game.

Re:TI-86 (2)

dzym (544085) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689641)

The guys at Ziosoft have ported SimCity 2000 to PocketPC. Ok so it's Microsoft, but whatever.

Your other option is to get Linux on one of these babies and try to get one of the many Simcity clones to run on it.

Shouldn't be too hard.

Re:TI-86 (1)

dalassa (204012) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689673)

I wasted so much time in class playing games on my Ti-82. I can only imagine what I would do with a PDA. Just set me up with Rogue for PalmOS and I'll never pass another class.

Re:TI-86 (1)

*xpenguin* (306001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689708)

Your other option is to get Linux on one of these babies and try to get one of the many Simcity clones to run on it.

What are your Simcity clones for Linux? All I know of is Lincity, but the graphics suck and has difficult game-play because there are no advisors.

Re:TI-86 (2, Informative)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689722)

Or if you have a Palm go here -

Raising the bar (3, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689617)

The compass and protractor are as obsolete as the sextant. If a kid graduates from school and doesn't know how to work a PDA, he's going to quickly learn how to work a deep fryer.

Re:Raising the bar (1)

*xpenguin* (306001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689682)

If a kid graduates from school and doesn't know how to work a PDA, he's going to quickly learn how to work a deep fryer.

We aren't even allowed to use PDAs because they can be used as detonators or cause harmful interference which may set off detanators. Computers and wireless networks are fine though.

Re:Raising the bar (3, Informative)

PotatoMan (130809) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689724)

Use of the sextant is still required for obtaining masters papers. And the last time I was on a cruise ship, they were actively using their pelorus.

Re:Raising the bar - sextants (5, Informative)

victim (30647) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689757)

Among cruising sailors it is considered somewhat foolish not to pack a sextant and know how to use it. You'd hate to take a lightning strike 1000 miles from land and lose your GPS, RDF, Loran, or whatnot.

Maybe you'll be bad with the cheap sextant, but you should still get within 30 miles which will let you make landfall during daylight.

fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689619)

first post!!

I'm old :[ (3, Informative)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689621)

What? not 6 years ago I/we were required to graph the fuckers manually, and we actually explicitly forbidden from using snazzy ti calcs to do it.

Re:I'm old :[ (1)

fistynuts (457323) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689647)

Me too.
Use of calculators is fair enough if you're forced to learn the theory. Does use of PDAs, I'm guessing with easy-to-use maths software installed, reduce every exam to a computer science practical (and an easy one at that)?

Re:I'm old :[ (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689713)

This would be a moot point if (US anyway) exams actually tested student's knowledge and ability to think, rather than their ability to do repetative tasks and memorize things. We have PDA's to do repetative tasks and memorize things...

Re:I'm old :[ (4, Interesting)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689715)

No kidding. I went my entire education (BA Chem) without once using a single graphing calculator. Now, In my spare time, I tutor college math: time and time again, my students have no true understanding of even the most basic of principles because they always had a computer to do it for them.

So now, If I tutor someone, I made them leave the calculator at home. Everyone to date ended up actually learning, rather than memorizing.

Re:I'm old :[ (2)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689753)

I'm older than you. Back in 1990 (!!) my calculus teacher strongly recommended we use one of these graphing calculators in our work. I didn't. I think I'm a better mathematician for it now. :)

Re:I'm old :[ (1)

dadragon (177695) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689763)

You're not old. I graduated in 2001, and I didn't touch graphing calculators until we learned the theory, and then on tests we had to do it manually. That was math, though. In Physics and Chem, all calculators were fair game.

Me too (Drafting) (2)

antdude (79039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689786)

Me too. Drafting requires some of this geometry by hand as well.

Re:I'm old :[ (2, Insightful)

TedTschopp (244839) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689789)

Reminds me of a friend of mine who works at Cal Tech. We were hanging out and they had nothing to do, I jokingly said that if they didn't have anything or were bored I could lend them my Laptop (A Sony Picture Book) and they could go study math.

The response (Not an exact quote, but it stuck with me), "One needs a good imagination to study math, not a calculator or computer; paper & pencil are helpful when it comes to proofs."

Of course that was my point, but they assumed that I was like most other people today... thinking that a persons ability to use a computers or a calculators make them smart or able in the sciences/math/computer programming.

Ted Tschopp

Re:I'm old :[ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689812)

Good colleges still forbid you from using calculators on tests, so there.

"It helps us visualize what we're doing." (4, Interesting)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689622)

Paper and pen help you visualize what you are doing, a calculator which draws everything for you, just makes you think you did it. No-one needs these to learn mathematics, atleast not before doing their master's thesis in a university.

Re:"It helps us visualize what we're doing." (1)

Seekerofknowledge (134616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689730)

I totally agree. To think that somehow math that has been around for centuries will all of the sudden be seen with more insight now that kids can have the graphs and functions plotted for them quicker is baffling. Please, if you don't understand it well enough to draw it on your own, you still won't understand it when it's being drawn for you.

HP's (2, Informative)

cheezedawg (413482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689630)

Sorry, but even after all these years its hard to beat the HP-48. After 8 years I still use mine everyday.

Re:HP's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689661)

those are too dam confusing waht with that pollock notation and all.

Re:HP's (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689783)

Here, Here! As long as I have used a Palm, the HP48 is still by the side when it comes to actually doing some calculations!

It just works better than anything I have found for a PDA... actually having buttons and a clean, logical UI!

Too bad HP ditched calculator development...

get rid of the damned calculators all together (1)

Paolomania (160098) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689631)

Taking a computer-assisted calculus course in college was one of the worst academic mistakes I ever made. Sure I learned some Mathematica, but it set me back a few semesters in my Calc knowledge. I was able to lean so heavily on the software to do calculations that I forgot stuff I had known previously! In the followup multivariate class I kept reaching to the right side of my notebook to hit SHIFT-RETURN.

pda's will be even more of a distraction than a TI (1)

mrmaster (535266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689633)

Having a PDA instead of a TI scientic calculator would have caused even more distractions for me. Especially seeing as how the new PDA's have increased connectivity. I know you can already play games on the scientific calculator. However the PDA would make it so much simplier to not only cheat but never pay attention in class.

The real question is... (2)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689640)

do students learn more if they figure out how to cheat using a PDA?

Re:The real question is... (2, Funny)

sheepab (461960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689670)

Students already cheat, having a PDA will only make it easier for them so I dont really see a difference between a student having a graphing calculator to store awnsers or a PDA. Both can help a student cheat just the same. Except a PDA could let you cheat in COLOR!

Re:The real question is... (1)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689778)

I'm out of school now, but if I were still in high school, I'd have a field day with this. Just set up a connection to another pda, say, the one your super smart math friend has on him 100 feet away in a parked car, little communication software, and bam, welcome to the land of straight A's.

Was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689642)

Was the compass and geometry uninvented?

No, but apparently English grammar and usage were.

Calculatorama (2, Insightful)

m.e.l.l.e.n.t.i.n.e (305369) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689644)

I think all of math was uninvented when calculators became cheap enough for everyone to buy. My classmates use their calculators for everything, no matter how simple it may be. Why can't people just learn to do it in their head like the rest of us? ;)

Re:Calculatorama (1)

tg_schlacht (570380) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689736)

I recall a sci-fi story (may have been Asimov) where everyone used calculators to do math. They had been using calculators for so long that no one even knew how to do math anymore until the protagonist found that there was a way for people to do calculations with (amazingly enough) a pencil and paper

The gist of the story was that the enemy was able to disrupt the calculations of missle guidance systems but now men could serve as the guidance systems in missles since the discovery that they could perform the calculations with pencil and paper and would not be subject to the disruptions exerted on the missle guidance systems by the enemy.

Re:Calculatorama (1)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689820)

Yeah, a couple of my friends and I were walking through the woods one day, and one of them spotted bigfoot. We were pretty unimpressed, but the real treat of the day came when, standing graceful on hill two small valleys over, was a kid that knew how do long division on paper. Of course, no one believed us about the kid, but I know what I saw.

Oh, they didn't care about bigfoot either, so we quit telling that part of the story.

Remember when... (2, Funny)

jbarr (2233) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689645) had to sneak a calculator into class for fear that you would get caught cheating?

Geometry on Calculators (2)

bentini (161979) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689648)

Actually, the TI-89/TI-92/TI-92+ have pretty amazing geometry software.

Cabri or somesuch? I didn't get mine until I was out of that class, but it was pretty nifty and had many ways to describe geometric situations and to get conclusions from that, much as one would with a compass and a straightedge.

Granted, they are fairly pricey calculators...

Cheating (3, Insightful)

dalassa (204012) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689649)

There are already problems with students putting formulae into calculators. I would only think this would get worse with a PDA. With a calculator you can ask and see that the memory has been reset without much worry about lost data. A PDA stores other things though and so it would be alot harder to check that it has been cleared or that the student isn't using it to cheat.

Re:Cheating (1)

fistynuts (457323) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689685)

When I was in school, we had to press the 'memory wipe' button on our calcs in front of the teacher in charge to make sure we didn't sneak formulae in.

Of course by the time you get to uni you're trusted not to cheat - conversely this is usually when most people feel the need to :)

Re:Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689809)

Didn't you ever use a fake-reset program?

Math shouldn't be about rote memorization. (2, Insightful)

glrotate (300695) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689695)

Remembering formulas is pointless. Being able to apply the formulas is the goal.

Exactly (5, Interesting)

Wraithlyn (133796) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689769)

Someone once asked Einstein how many feet were in a mile. His response? "I don't know. Why would I clutter up my brain with stuff like that when I can look it up in any reference book in two minutes?"

Re:Math shouldn't be about rote memorization. (2, Insightful)

tg_schlacht (570380) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689810)

Actually a few things in math should be drilled into students by rote. That way they will know them without having to even think about them. The multiplication table is one such thing. Also the differences between all numbers from 0 to 100 (so I can get my change quickly in case the cash register is broken.)

If you don't remember a formula there is little chance of applying it is there? At least not until you have looked it up.

Re:Cheating (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689737)

I keep reading a lot of posts about the possibility for cheaters. I don't get it. Let the kids cheat if they want to risk it. If they get caught, fail them for the semester. If they don't they won't learn, and frankly it doesn't matter if they can't become mathematicians or scientists later because they never learned their basic maths. Students who use devices within the confines of a class will get more out of it, IF they are there to learn. If they arn't, why should I care about their futures? Less competition in the "tech market" eventually. You can't cheat forever, eventually you need to have the skills to make original calculations.

Re:Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689806)

I see you've never met anyone in management.

Who uses a TI? (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689650)

Real men use HP.

My 48SX is 10 years old and still kicks ass.

Please, Dr. Wolfram... (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689651)

...make a version of Mathematica for the PDA, and the concern: "I'm waiting for moms to say, 'Wait, I already bought a Palm. Why do I have to buy a calculator too?"' will fly out the window.

Then it's up to the SAT folks to evolve.

I do A LOT of calculations in Mathemagica, many of which don't require the full use of my computer. A PDA version would be pretty neat-o.

Re:Please, Dr. Wolfram... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689679)

Congratulations on saying "A lot" instead of ALOT. It's nice to see, easy on the eyes.

And what when you move to higher dimentions? (2, Interesting)

bluGill (862) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689652)

As one young math professior I had in college said I hope you sometime get the fun of working in at least 11 dimintions. He was a young guy (first you teaching), and was truely serious about that. Now I can deal with 2d graphics just fine, and 3d graphs are normally not a problem, though optical illusions sometimes are possible so I don't rely on them, but the one 4d graph I saw just threw my mind in a loop, and I decided not to bother with them again.

Maybe I'm not a visual person, but I can't deal with 4d graphs. I can deal with math in 11 dimentions if I have to, though I'm not good. The ability to work on 2d and 3d problems without a graph helps when you deal with problems that cannot be easially graphed.

Then again, all my college classes allowed calculators, but the time to enter numbers was longer than the time to calculate things in my head so I rarely used my HP-48 after my freshman year.

s/you/year/ (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689674)

first year teaching. sorry about that.

Sets back when they get to college (1)

powerbarr (466387) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689656)

I didn't touch a calculator my first two years of college calculus. Everything was variables except for some simple math. These kids will only be set back in college if they start to rely on their calculators. Then again, maybe college profs are making it easier and allowing calculators. NOT!!

Tools.... ? (1)

smak (193931) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689657)

Surely in either case, calculator or PDA, they are simply tools. As long as the fundamentals are still being taught, isn't that all that matters ?

We use tools to make our lives easier - and there's no harm in that, as long as we understand the principles behind them.

Re:Tools.... ? (2)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689745)

Hm. You can't be too sure that the fundamentals are being taught, however, if certification standards are so low that many teachers can score at the 25% percentile and still pass [] their skills tests. Some teachers might find relying on calculators or PDAs a useful crutch to hide their incompetence.

ILGVM (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689660)

I Like Goats Very Much

Lets crawl before we walk... (4, Insightful)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689663)

I have no problem with "aids" such as graphing calculators and PDAs in the classroom as long as the "ole fashioned" ways (i.e. by hand on paper) are taught/learned first. We've become a society (in the US at least) where most people have to carry around tip charts in order to function in restaurants.

Re:Lets crawl before we walk... (5, Funny)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689706)

Tip chart? My latest cell phone will calculate tips!

Re:Lets crawl before we walk... (2, Funny)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689721)

I know several people that can't calc a 10% tip in their head, can't guestimate even.

Man (2, Funny)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689665)

Just the other day I saw someone use a butane lighter to light a cigarette. Apparently they don't even know the basic ways to make fire anymore. Was the tinder box uninvented?

Sure, why not (1)

taijirad (584518) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689672)

It's not as if PDA's would raise the distraction level for calc classes already using TI's. How many people out there had games on their machines back in the day?

Slashdot coverup of X-Windows DoS? (-1, Offtopic)

damieng (230610) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689677)

I tried posting as a news story but despite covering practically every serious Microsoft security hole there is Slashdot doesn't feel fit to mention a serious X-Windows/Mozilla DoS that only requires a web page to have a very large font set.

The result can be a terminated XFree86 or a frozen box with you reaching for the reset button. Full details at The Register [] .

Re:Slashdot coverup of X-Windows DoS? (-1, Offtopic)

sheepab (461960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689710)

This is interesting because recently I upgraded to RH 7.3, and in X I sometimes get a frozen box and find myself reaching for the reset button....hmmm. Does anyone using RH 7.3 have this problem, or a fix to it?

PDAs dont' have buttons! (2, Insightful)

Zach978 (98911) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689678)

Most PDAs depend on the touch screen, whereas calcs have buttons to achieve the specific task. I'd rather be pushing buttons then using a stylus to navigate the screen. Plus, you have to use HP with RPN! ;)

Re:PDAs dont' have buttons! (3, Funny)

dciman (106457) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689826)

Too bad there are no more HP calcs.... RPN was awsome to use.

1.5 megabytes?! (1)

Seekerofknowledge (134616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689691)

Wow,I really wish that the ti-83 had had this much storage when I was in high school going through the calculator phase. Way too many times did I have to delete a very cool game or OS in order to still be able to do anything with it.
And another thing, you could practically program cheats for every class of every year of your schooling in there! That just makes it too easy.

This is a good thing.. (3, Insightful)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689692)

Why when I were a lad, we werent allowed to use calculators. (Only the rich kids had them anyway.) We had to do all of our plotting with protractors and compasses. It was tedius and we'd forget what we were doing while we were doing it because there were so many steps. Most understanding was lost while going through the motions, making mistakes and erasing holes into the paper. When we got to things like polar coordinate translation, or calculus, the steps become so complex that most of the students didnt have a clue about the big picture as they became mindless rote automatons emulating a tape head.

Kids these days get these glorious plotting computers that bypass the tedium and take you straight to the insight. They even have algorithms that do their algebra for them. And I am sure they have a much better high level understanding of what they're doing than I did even in college.

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if their ability to actually solve by hand some of this stuff is as good as ours simply because they understand it better than we did.

Re:This is a good thing.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689798)

Kids these days get these glorious plotting computers that bypass the tedium and take you straight to the insight. They even have algorithms that do their algebra for them

You must be joking. If I just push a button and the computer does the algebra, then exactly how am I learning algebra? All I learn is how to push a button. There is no way to really learn math other than to work exercises yourself. Not listening to lectures, not reading the book, and certainly not pressing a "solve" button on a calculator.

No but.... (1)

TedTschopp (244839) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689694)

"Was the compass and geometry uninvented"

No, but the compass and geometry are not patentable, and therfore there is no push from companies to sell them to schools, margins being what they are.

I wonder what this has to say about educating the consumer and educating the student.

Ted Tschopp

It kinda scares me... (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689699)

...what would happen if there was some global disaster that took out electricity, and batteries were scarce.

I guess I've been watching too many Jeremiah episodes.

Re:It kinda scares me... (1)

*xpenguin* (306001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689772)

You can destroy electronics without lack of power by building yourself an EMP bomb.

How about neither? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689700)

As someone who tutors college math, I feel that more emphasis should be placed on working problems out by hand. When people become too dependent on calculators, they neglect basic math skills, and they lose insights as to how to solve problems. What's worse, when calculators give an unreasonable answer, many people aren't even aware of it because they don't know how to work the problem in the first place or can't estimate the range of the answer in their head. If these errors make their way into the real world of bridges, airplanes, stocks, etc., we're all going to be in trouble.

Calculators shouldn't even matter in school. (2)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689701)

When the U.S. is graduating kids who don't even know how to read, cheating with a calculator should be the lowest item on the priority list.

I used a calc in class, we were required to for AP calculus, but we were also required to memorize everything.

Was the compass and geometry uninvented? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689704)

Wow. The quality of people submitting articles has really improved. Surely a submitter does not mind if you correct a submission's spelling/grammar?

Oh wait, this is slashdot: posts that horrify educators. Stuff that's misspeeled.

Anecdotal (2)

Nate Fox (1271) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689709)

So I pole vaulted in college (the event in Track and Field where you use the pole to go up over the bar). One of the guys I vaulted with was a math major (he actually just graduated with his Masters in Mathematics), and actually a very good vaulter. We were working out our approach run and some of the measurements, and he looked at me and asked 'Whats 23 divided by 2?'

I looked at him and said 'You're the math major, cant you do simple division?'

He replied 'No man, I need a calculator for that - now whats 23 divided by 2?!'

Favorite Quote (1)

armagideon (36642) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689725)

"Students are permitted to use calculators on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, but because of the potential for cheating using infrared messaging, PDAs are banned"

Am I the only one that remembers using the ir port in the TI calculators?

Re:Favorite Quote (1)

Zach978 (98911) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689752)

Yeah, older HPs had the IR ports also, it was my understanding that they are allowed as long as you put a peiece of masking tape over the port.

The TI 8x series made a great notecard... (2)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689727)

I still remember the rather painstaking process of writing down many derivation and integration formulas into my TI85 graphing calculator. I justified it on the basis that if I was actually deriving or integrating in the real world, I'd have a book next to me anyway, while I still knew I was cheating.

In the process though, I got used to typing words and various macros into the graphing calculator, and over a break was able to make a fun little Might & Magic-style maze walking game using four images and a matrix for the maze layout. It's part of why I'm a programmer now.

So, even though it is cheating to use these tools in several situations- learning to cheat with such tools can be a useful learning experience in itself! As long as you don't get caught.


Ryan Fenton

TI-85 porn (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689823)

I hear you man. I ended up programming my chem equations into mine in high school. Unfortunatly, (or actually fortunatly for me) i ended up learning the equations inside out in order to program them so they would work for any number of variables. ;)

I got so bored in my adv. chem class that i probably drew some of the first TI-85 porn. I'm not saying it was high quality having to draw with circles, boxes, and lines, but almost everyone in my classes eventually had the program on their calculators.

cheaters (1)

mh_tang (307188) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689729)

The article mentioned cheating in the form of infrared messaging, but it would be much more than that if PDA's were allowed in the classroom. I know that back in high school, there were certain individuals who would "type" formulas or instructions into their calculator's memories.

Especially in Math and Physics classes, where you often use calculators in quizzes and exams, students would input formulas, walk-throughs of example problems and how to solve them, etc. It got so bad that the teacher eventually required everyone to show that their calculator's memory was completely blank (backup those legitimate programs...and Tetris...first!) before being allowed to use their graphing calculator on an exam.

The reason we were allowed to continue using calculators at all was because it took a LONG time to type in anything using the calculator's keys. Hunt-and-peck all the way. With a PDA, it would be trivial to type out everything on a computer and sync it to memory. Not to mention possible infrared communication between students, wireless connectivity to a network or the internet, or kids hiding programs like Derive or Mathematica (don't know if those actually exist on PDAs).

I'm all for demonstrating ideas in a visual way through calculators, but when it comes to being tested on your knowledge of the material, shouldn't students do things the old fashioned way?

A couple of thoughts (3, Interesting)

dlur (518696) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689732)

I'd always wondered how long it would be before the companies that produce software like Mathematica [] and Maple [] would port their software to PDAs. When I went to college at Rose-Hulman IT [] we were all issued notebooks which ran Maple and CAD software. We used Maple in all of our Calc classes and were able to use it on tests once we proved our ability to do that particular type of problem by hand first. The CAD software could have easily been on higher power workstations. If Maple had been on our PDAs it would have lowered the cost of going to the college by a few thousand dollars (high end notebooks were really expensive back in '95, and sometimes still are)

The main problem is that PDAs were nearly non-existant at that time, but today I can see PDAs like the iPaq doing a grand job of running some of this higher end math software.

Of course cheating would run pretty rampant with wireless transmitting of email and text, not to mention the ability to store files with crib sheets on them. I'm still not sure how our profs back in the day thought they were ensuring that we didn't cheat on our calc exams back then. I think it was more of a matter of honor than anything.

Ignorama Americana (0, Troll)

Cheesewhiz (61745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689734)

Welcome to America, where even our best students are utterly incapable of conceptualizing an ellipse!

Grade Inflation... (2)

Liora (565268) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689735)

Does anyone here know how to use a slide rule?

My point exactly. While we may be able to figure one out given a few minutes, we certainly didn't grow up using them. If, however, the need arose, we could figure one out. Likewise with looking trigonometric values up in a table in the back of a book, just like the rules for differentiation by parts. Even if kids today aren't learning to use the tools that we used (our brains) to graph hyperbolas, that doesn't mean they won't be able to do so manually. It may take them a little longer (it would take us longer to use a slide rule) but they could get it. The important point is that they are learning the mathematics behind the concepts.

Isn't it integration by parts? (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689822)

And not differentiation?

It seems that economics is winning again. (2)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689739)

While I don't agree with calculators in the class room, I do appreciate the fact that the free market is causing the two technologies to become what the market is demanding. In other words, the technologies are becoming what people are looking for: a hand held or pda that calculates for you.

A tale from elementary school (2)

mcfiddish (35360) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689741)

I remember in third grade we were learning about temperatures, and my friend raised his hand and asked "what about when somebody says something is 35 degrees to the right? What does that mean?"

The teacher said "That's too complicated. You don't need to know that."

25 years later, I would wager most of the kids in that class still don't know what that means and don't care.

Every generation complains the kids are getting dumber, lazier, whatever. There will always be kids who are motivated and want to learn, and while using a PDA in class might slow them down, it won't stop them.

Does this horrify anyone else? (3, Interesting)

goldenfield (64924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689758)

"When you have circles and ellipses, there is no way you'd be able to do this without a calculator," Jarvis said.

Ok...I know a lot of people don't need to summon Euclidian geometry from memory in everyday life, but the image of a kid in geometry class learning an equation thats been around for over 1000 years, and saying that level of math is impossible without a {graphing calculator, PDA} really saddens me. Especially since geometry is usually taught an at honors level - meaning the kids taking geometry are supposed to be the smart ones, on the fast track to college, etc. It makes me think that with all the technology readily available, kids will stop thinking and imagining and innovating.

I remember being in school when the TI's started to become popular. My feeling then was that ok, I've done these equations by hand...I've got a good handle on how to do that, and sometimes its a real PITA, so maybe sometimes its better to use the automated functions here. I still think that way -- I CAN configure SAMBA by hand, but there's a nice graphical tool that automates it, so that's simpler for me now.

I just hope with all the automation tools and short cuts technology can provide, we're not engineering out the human quality of wanting to know how things work.

So how do you tell kids today that yes, you can live without the latest gadget, and that it is important to master the fundamentals before you learn all the shortcuts?

Cheater proof calculators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689764)

I can see a time in the future when teachers will only allow certain "certified" calculators in their classes for tests. I know some professors allow you to only use equation sheets that they hand out for their tests. Maybe they should come up with a system where when you bring your calculator into the test they make you wipe the memory and then using some system download the acceptable functions onto it. Everyone would have the same functions so you would have to go back to writting the equations on the inside cover of your calc to cheat. ;)

Both are bad for learning (3, Insightful)

PiGuy (531424) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689765)

I just graduated high school, yet never had a powerful graphing calculator (Casio's aren't terribly programmable). But everyone I knew who had a TI had no clue what more than half the functions on it did; they merely used them to play games (as the few who owned PDAs did). Unfortunately, their power is dulled by the fact that they are so slow; an equivalently-priced PDA can do the same types of calculations in 1/10th the time. (I can't wait to stick a Scheme interp. on my Zaurus!)
PDAs are currently banned because they are "programmable". But so are all graphing calculators. On SATs, the only things that are banned are devices housing QWERTY keyboards, which most PDAs don't. Also, TIs can be programmed (and come with) more functionality than your average Palm. Even my Zaurus comes with only a 4-function calculator app!
Back on the topic of the CASIO, I left it at home nearly every other day of school, if even that infrequently. Yet I survived through every math and physics class often without it. Because of graphing calculators, most kids don't even know what a parabola looks like, let alone how to draw one. Most people even forget fractions and long division, and rather write the answer the calculator gives them, like "3.999999999" rather than "4".

Both calculators and PDAs are tools, and should /not/ be used as learning tools. Kids learn to use them to do math, rather than the actual underlying concepts. Don't allow 4-function calculators until algebra; don't allow graphing calculators until calculus; don't allow scheme-based RPN symbolic integration magic twiddles until set theory!

Use an calculator emulator on your PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689768)

I use an HP48/49 emulator on my iPAQ.
The best of both worlds

Re:Use an calculator emulator on your PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689817)

Screenshots at _e mu48.htm

Was the compass and geometry uninvented?" (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689779)

Yup, Columbine and September 11th pretty much did that. Too much fear of school hijackings and slaughter via compass.

High School Graduate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3689802)

I just graduated high school and have always taken the highest difficulty math courses at my school. From Algebra II sophmore year to Caclulus senior year a TI-(82/83/83 Plus/86/whatever) was REQUIRED for the honors courses.

From my experience there are a few problems with the PDA-like functionality of a TI calculator. First, it is very easy to cheat on exams because it was relatively simple to program in formulas and equations for reference during a test and I even wrote programs to help with factoring back in 10th grade. Second, it was up to the student to learn the math. You could cruise through the course (except for Calculus) simply by using your calculator, but most of the students, including myself simply read the book. And of course, there are teachers who solved this problem by simply requiring you to SHOW THE WORK.

That said, the ability to throw the compass out the window and use the calculator made it possible to cover a greater amount of material per class. Instead of spending five minutes graphing a circle, we could do five different circles in those five minutes.

In conclusion, as with all technology in the classroom, there are pros and cons to its usage. I see the growing trend for PDA-like functionality in calculators as a way to expand the learning process for those who want to learn and making it easier for the slackers. In short, bring on the PDA-s!

Palm Graphing (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689807)

I have replaced my TI-83+ with Power One's graphing calculator program. It has more features, and is much more flexible, than any TI i've ever seen. It graphs faster, and you can set each line on the graph to a different color so its easier to tell them apart (not to mention the higher screen resolution making the graphs more detailed). I love it.

The only problem teachers face is cheating. I could have stored my whole Trig textbook on my Clie (memorysticks rock). Yeah, you can write stuff in TI's programming menus, but its a pain. Not so with a PDF reader on my Palm.

Cheating (2)

Chibi (232518) | more than 12 years ago | (#3689819)

You have to wonder about the possibilities for cheating with these types of devices.

When I was in high school, the TI calculators that were programmable had just started coming out. There were several people who enter equations and other cheats into them.

Some teachers would not allow these types of calculators to be used, others would check before the test that they didn't have any equations or other types of cheats stored in them, and others would actually ask people to clear out all the memory in them.

Glad I don't have to worry about this any more. :)

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