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Comment: Re:Depends (Score 5, Informative) 244

by mad_clown (#35336104) Attached to: Is Attending a CS Conference Worth the Time?

I'm not in CS, but I agree with MrEricSir. Not only is presenting at a conference a big confidence booster, but it can also open up a lot of doors for you if you impress the right folks with your presentation. I watched a colleague present a paper at a conference last year only to seem him be approached afterwards by no less than three different people giving him contact information for potential job opportunities in the non-profit international law sector.

Again, that's a pretty long way from CS, but it's probably more common than you think.

Find the money and go to Utah. Maybe try to find a pertinent mailing list and see if there are other people who're in a similar boat who'd like to split the cost of a room with you. Depending on how big the conference is, it might be fairly easy to find someone.

Comment: Re:Wuntootree... (Score 1) 804

by mad_clown (#34716036) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

1) More like "the taxpayer's money," for most people. And while it may be "your choice" to put yourself into an academic environment, once there you are expected to abide by certain rules, like a real grown up. You're not a special little snowflake and sometimes you don't get to do whatever you want.

2) Chaotic offices and call centers are indeed loud, distracting places. How this is supposed to be an argument for making classrooms into loud, distracting places, I am not sure. If you can't "deal with" having to put your toys away in certain environments, maybe you should think about finding a kitchen to work in, rather than wasting your time going to college.

3) ... Old people?

Comment: Re:I agree - for large lectures (Score 1) 804

by mad_clown (#34715876) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

sell assessment and certification/accreditation, not instruction

^This.

Also, and it varies from field to field, but I think coming to class and having a discussion about various interpretations or applications of certain ideas is usually a lot more valuable than the actual content of the reading itself. You might very well be able to go home and read and think about the ideas of (insert person here) on your own, but chances are you're not going to be exposed to questions (and answers) you hadn't thought of, elucidations and tangents that are interesting and illuminating, etc.

If you just want to learn stuff why bother going to college? Just go buy the book and do it on your own.

Comment: Re:College is a choice... (Score 1) 804

by mad_clown (#34715758) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

You want to get rid of the nanny state? How about starting with cutting the student loans system so that students can't rely on... the nanny state to subsidize their four (or five!) years of partying and doing everything possible to avoid learning a damned thing.

Oh, that's not what you meant?

Comment: Re:College is a choice... (Score 1) 804

by mad_clown (#34715726) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

college is a good opportunity for teenager-cum-adults to have the freedom to make their own decisions in an environment which helps them to measure themselves

I happen to think that part of this should absolutely be learning that, while you have the freedom to make your own decisions, those decisions frequently have unpleasant consequences. There should not be the expectation that one can do little more than plant their ass in a seat a few times a week and screw around the whole time and then, after all is said and done, swagger out of class at the end of the quarter with a decent grade.

Unfortunately, today's special little snowflakes demand exactly that from the very professors they call "assholes" behind their back for daring to assign 15 pages of reading (an assignment that, all too often, goes uncompleted anyways).

Comment: Re:College is a choice... (Score 1) 804

by mad_clown (#34715652) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

In my classes, all laptops, cell phones, non-class-related reading materials, etc. are banned. If you need to use a laptop to take notes, you ok it with me first. If you get caught breaking these rules, you lose a letter grade, period. Dicking around with this stuff is disrespectful to the instructor and, as someone who was on the other side of the desk not so long ago, it's extremely annoying to other students who don't want to hear your phone buzzing every 30 seconds or whatever.

It's not about being a hard-ass for the sake of being mean. It's about setting ground rules and establishing from day one that this is an academic environment and everyone is expected to act like an adult. If they can't handle that, they're free to find another class or, better yet, re-evaluate what they're doing with their lives.

Such rules are harder to implement in huge lecture classes, granted, but in smaller classes they seem to work just fine, especially if there's a TA who can keep an extra eye out for you.

Losing a whole letter grade for something as stupid as a text message is something that even the thickest of undergraduates don't want to deal with, especially when they're already only pulling a C- for turning in half-assed work.

Comment: Re:In what subject though? (Score 1) 235

by mad_clown (#34649010) Attached to: Oregon To Let Students Use Spell Check on State Exams

...in other classes you should be marked for the knowledge taught in those classes.

If a student's spelling and grammar are so terrible that they are barely able to express their ideas, then grading them on that basis is totally appropriate. Moreover, when a student turns in a paper riddled with spelling and grammar errors, it's immediately clear that they didn't spend half a second proofreading, which is a wonderful indication of how seriously they're taking their coursework.

"This isn't an English class, so you shouldn't grade us on spelling and grammar" and "I felt like I was graded on my grammar, not my ideas" are the favorite refrains of lazy students who crapped out a paper the night before it was due and couldn't even be bothered to give it a once-over.

The number of functionally illiterate students who walk through the doors of my classroom (college level) is staggering. Anything that gives them more incentive to slag off their education and turn in lazy work is a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

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