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Comment: Re:Getting it very wrong (Score 1) 81

by the phantom (#47682001) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?
You clearly took very poor math classes. The only time I ever teach calculus as "simple computation" is when I am teaching business calculus for business majors. Mathematics is about logic and, as such, should be almost nothing but problem solving (generally in the form of proofs and model construction).

Comment: Re:Why not community college rather than online? (Score 2) 81

by the phantom (#47681255) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

Speaking as a guy who adjuncts at a big university, I have to second the guy who works in ed tech. In addition to the comments above, you also stand a better chance of getting more qualified instructors at a community college. I taught lower-division math classes as a graduate student. Indeed, much of the teaching load in many departments is handed over to TAs at big universities. Community colleges often teach exactly the same classes out of the same books, but the instructors will hopefully have (a) better credentials (a masters in their field, though there are a disturbing number of people at community colleges who have masters in ed) and (b) more experience teaching.

Another point in favor of community colleges is class size. At a big university, classes can be huge. A calculus class that I TAed for had over two hundred students in a lecture hall. Yes, they broke apart into smaller recitation sections once a week, but recitation time with a TA is not the same as face time with a professor. Community college classes tend to be much smaller.

Unless you are trying to finish your degree in a top-tier, private institution (Stanford, University of Chicago, Harvard, &c) or a small, residential liberal arts college, there is no reason not to finish an associates degree at a local community college then transfer to a local university (or apply to an out-of-state institution, where you probably have a pretty good chance of being accepted).

Comment: Re:Remediating American's Victimization of Indians (Score 1) 561

by the phantom (#47664439) Attached to: Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

Why does "trying to fix this" always lead to affirmative action?

Why can't "trying to fix this" fix the root cause?

I mean, if you need more women on your team, instead of trying to give preference to women, why not do two things: 1) Study why there are few women in the field 2) Remedy that, or encourage more women to join.

You do realize that your proposal is almost exactly what affirmative action is, as codified in Executive Order 11246, right?

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by the phantom (#47640369) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Hrm. That was never my experience. When I was teaching, I took the time off. I generally spent the first week gearing down, and the last month prepping, but took most of the time off or took classes. Most of my colleagues either did the same, though a few continued to work for the district teaching remedial classes over the summer, substituting, or tutoring. I don't know of anyone who waited tables or cleaned houseboats, though perhaps the low cost of living in Nevada is part of that? I also know that the year round schools never have difficulty filling positions with very well qualified teachers---even in low income areas---as there are a large number of people wanting to take those jobs. Traditional schools generally have greater difficulty. Of course, this may be symptomatic of there being a relatively small number of year round schools in the district and a somewhat larger, though stilly minority, population of teachers with a marked preference.

Of course, we can trade anecdotes 'til the cows come home---do you have any data, one way or the other? I can find a number of opinion pieces, but my google-fu is turning up nothing in terms of surveys of teachers and their preferences (this article is about the best that I can find and it is both out of date and answering a slightly different set of questions, though it seems to come down on the side of teachers in that particular district having a preference for year round schools). Have you had any better luck?

I would also note (again) that the issue of teacher compensation appears to be tangential to the issue of year round schooling. A year round schedule may exacerbate the problem, but the problem is inadequate compensation rather than the calendar cycle.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 5, Interesting) 421

by the phantom (#47639545) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

First off, there would be no need to change the compensation. Teacher are currently contracted and paid to teach for nine months out of the year. Since year round schools also only hold classes for nine months out of the year, the amount of time spent teaching is the same and the contracts require no major changes.

Second, I and many of the teachers that I have worked with *really* like the year round schedule. I can't speak for every teacher, and there are certainly a lot of teacher that prefer the traditional schedule, but I find the year round schedule to give me more useful freetime. On the one hand, I can more efficiently plan for shorter periods of time (I can make plans and have a chance of getting to them before I have completely forgotten what I was thinking---late September to mid December is a much easier period of time to plan for than mid August to mid December). On the other hand the year round schedule means that I am off when other people are still in school (and since year round schedules can vary quite a lot, even if everyone were year round, I would still be off at a different time from many people), which means that I can get into tourist attractions (Yosemite or Disneyland or whatever you prefer) without having to fight massive crowds. My experience with working in year round schools has been much better than my experience in traditional schools.

None of this, of course, takes away from the argument that teachers ought to be paid more (which I think they should). I just don't think that a year round schedule makes much difference in that debate.

Comment: Re:No summer vacation = No time for major maintena (Score 1) 421

by the phantom (#47639473) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?
From my experience teaching at a year round school, there seems to be plenty of time for major maintenance and remodeling during the various breaks. Remember that year round schools generally meet for the same number of days each year, split between three sessions (a fall, spring, and summer session) with 4-6 weeks off between each session.

Comment: Re:Bricks and Mortar? (Score 1) 306

by the phantom (#47575099) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math
Powell's Books is quite searchable, they have quite a lot of books, and they have lots of old and rare volumes that are likely to be hard to find elsewhere. They also have a rather nice store that one can visit and simply browse, on the off chance that they don't actually know precisely what they want going in, and want the opportunity to see what is available on the shelves or to communicate with the knowledgable staff. Of course, the original point was that people still go to physical bookstores for whatever reason, not that you should go to a particular physical bookstore.

Comment: Re:Price (Score 1) 306

by the phantom (#47572095) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

(Why I am responding to an AC, I cannot fathom but...)

Nothing you have said actually contradicts anything that I said or is in any way relevant to the point that I made. The more expensive ebooks are priced as such because some people (not you, obviously) are willing to pay a premium for early access when the alternative to an ebook is a hardcover volume.

Comment: Re:Price (Score 2) 306

by the phantom (#47571765) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

First off, the higher priced ebooks are not meant to be competitive with paperbacks, but with hardcover releases. Generally, the hardcover and the ebook will come out at about the same time with the ebook being cheaper. I would also note (anecdotally) that most ebooks seem to come down in price in sync with the release of a paperback edition.

Second, according to a commenter on Scalzi's website who claims to have experience in the industry (going by the nym --E), it costs about one to two bucks to print and ship a paperback. Given that mass market paperbacks tend to run about $6-10, a price point of $4-9 would be in keeping with the notion of not paying the cost of printing and shipping a physical book. Oddly enough, a lot of ebooks seem to get sold in that range of prices. If your entire justification for not buying an ebook for more than $2 is that this represents the cost of a paperback minus the cost of paper, then you might want to reassess what you are willing to pay for an ebook.

One picture is worth 128K words.