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Comment K-State has had this in Physics courses (Score 1) 86

I saw this idea in Physics classes at K-state. It uses any device which has a web browser (smart phone, pda, laptop, etc). I think it was called In-class or something like that. It was very bare bones and basic, but also very useful for what they wanted. The research seems to show an improvement in the students that use it. It even had some functionality not mentioned in this patent such as allowing for groups of students to pool their answers and then reevaluate based on what their group had answered.

Comment Re:Confiscations (Score 1) 405

To at least mitigate the effect of missing work for ... well no one knows how long. Every time I've been called I've spent 6 or more hours sitting around doing nothing. Its a bonus to have the laptop with me so at least I can keep some projects on track. No different from jurors that bring knitting, or a teacher who brings grading with them. Yes it crosses the line when one starts breaking the rules of contact with the outside world.

My wife served on a civil trial that took more than a week of her life and ended up being settled before they made a decision. I think the jurors should be permitted to bill the lawyers (and judge) for their time, for an hourly rate not more than twice their normal salary. It wouldn't fix the whole system, but it would help.

Comment UMA Over Wi-Fi Acomplishes the same thing (Score 1) 231

This is (one of) the reason(s) I started getting Wi-Fi capable phones. Plus I only have to have my wireless router configured. Seems like the better solution than a separate antenna system. Of course not every service supports UMA capability - or at least not on every phone that could have it.

Comment Re:The Future is FAR from Secure (Score 1) 303

The US is in the middle of a decades long push to test students into knowledge and schools into, for lack of a better word, success. The result is students who give even less of $hit (where that is possible), teachers who teach how to take tests (and not how to be a creative and intelligent thinker), teachers who are terrified that their job security is determined by unmotivated students, and administrators that care about only one thing (test scores for their school) and how to game the system enough so that they don't lose their job.

The real solution to the problem of schooling, if there ever was a problem, is with parents. It is up to parents to instill in their children a respect for education, a thirst for knowledge, and the beginnings of creativity.

Tests to most students (and adults) feel like punishment. They undermine the educational process (they are necessary when we treat degrees as a certificate of knowledge so we will never be entirely free of them). Using them as a method of motivating students is akin to using beatings to train a dog: you don't get a well trained dog, what you get is a terrified mass of useless dog.

Comment Re:Think beyond the PC. (Score 1) 345

Yup. Because the PC is dying man! It's been dying for THIRTY FUCKING YEARS NOW! You'd think it'd have the good grace to have kicked off long ago and made way for a more compact, less powerful, less configurable, less open, complete cluster-fuck of a platform like smart phones or something. You know, something that can be locked down against their own users. Something you can charge through the nose and out the ass for development tools and support for.

Right. I mean I might spend $100-400 of my money on a phone or laptop type device or two (and another for the wife) and our family will likely own at most one tv-type device and one gaming device for a combined total of at most $800. I buy the devices and I use them for 15 years or until they break whichever comes first. But when I ask my company to plunk down a $3000 chunk of change every 4-5 years for a work machine it will be a pc. I don't see this fact changing in my lifetime. Maybe I'm just not seeing the light...

Comment I wonder if I caused this (Score 2, Interesting) 419

A book rep stopping by my office last month was asking why I'm not using their textbook for my course like the other instructors at the school. I told him that I looked up what they were charging at our bookstore and decided that that was at least $100 more than the useful value to the students. Then I said I was unimpressed that a professor of the caliber that Stewart is supposed to be took upwards of 7 iterations to apparently get Calculus right, I mentioned that if anything the last four editions should have been at least half the cost of the first 3.

He asked what book I was using and I said "none". He was floored. I explained that I write detailed notes to the class and put them on a wiki page I maintain for the course. Students then go in and can even edit the notes (if they find a typo) and maintain their own pages worth of examples which they maintain in groups of four. Overall the students have a textbook that is: an ebook, covers class, freely links to other material, includes videos relevant to the class, includes program files and examples, includes links to what the other students in the class are doing. And the total cost to the students is free, the cost to the department is just the 10 year old computer I rescued from a storage closet to host the wiki on.

Best part is next time I teach the course the wiki notes will be largely done and I'll just be able to focus on adding to them. Plus I'll have all the old students pages worth of notes and examples to include as needed.

He was stunned and just quietly slipped out of my office while I was showing him all the pages I had written.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 2, Insightful) 97

While I'm not an expert, I speculate that potential applications would include: using a similar model to study cilial action in human lungs or gut; developing of advanced fabrics which shed water more efficiently; developing algorithms for robotics (I'm thinking in particular military applications) to dry themselves in the wild. The beauty of science to me is that someone answers what appears to be a relatively innocuous and useless question and often can't tell where it might lead. We (often) can't just dive in and answer the most difficult question first, we start with a simple model of a related phenomena and then build up to the real (and useful) examples. I like this problem here, because in practice it does seem that biological systems have spent the eons developing the best solutions to complicated problems (basically through trial and error) so they have a model whose solution agrees with the one found by the biological system. I see it as a win, science has advanced, even if it was only a micro-step.

Comment Re:yeah, and who would teach? (Score 1) 380

I agree. Tenure gives the freedom to take risks in both teaching and research. The net result is a higher quality of both. It is also a form of non-monetized benefit. I'm curious what the writer thinks would take its place if not tuition monies: myself, certainly with the lack of freedom to do my job as I know it should be done and despite the bitching of the lazy students that make up 80 percent of my classes would be demanding substantially more salary or finding other places to work. I can be treated like shit and make money in plenty of other professions.

Sure I have colleagues I'd love to have the ability to force to work at least half as hard as I do, but not if that means giving up the ability to place demands on my students to do work.

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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