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Comment Re:Internet is not a school priority... (Score 1) 257

In Texas, you'll never pass a vote to issue a $2m bond to build a new school. If the bond is for a new $20m football stadium, it'll pass with 85% of the vote. Most places it isn't a school priority to build a football stadium, it's a community priority. The school isn't spending any of the money they have for educating (or educational facilities) to build a stadium. Yes, it is completely wrong, but you can't really blame the school budget.

Comment Re:Pretty old news now but anyway.... (Score 1) 123

As a professor who uses open source textbooks (OpenStax Precalculus, specifically), the homework cost (Webassign at $33.95) is actually something that greatly benefits "good" students. They can have virtually unlimited practice problems, with solutions, through the online homework system. The vast majority of students prefer online homework to the old "do this on paper, turn it in, get back next class and hope I did it correctly" style. They can immediately see when they get a problem incorrect, then can come see me, spend time combing through the book, notes, Khan Academy, etc to get help. As for crappy students, they don't give a crap, no matter what. While this isn't free, I'd say charging $33.95 is a hell of a lot better than the $200 textbook we dumped for this approach. This also beats Pearson's MyMathlab price of $99 for similar access (and closed source textbook access). There are free online HW sites, but if you ever test them, there is quite a bit of hidden cost. I can set up a Moodle server and run my own question banks, but then I need to make sure I have something accessible from anywhere, with enough capacity to allow a few thousand students access. I can write questions on Blackboard (our campus LMS), but the mathematics support is god awful. I can use MAA's system, but it's more expensive than Webassign (unless I host it myself).

Comment CS Educators? (Score 2, Interesting) 152

Maybe it's just the Mathematics and Computer Science educator in me, but I think the biggest problem is finding good people to teach CS. Here in South Carolina, you are required to take a CS class prior to graduating HS (of course, learning Word counts as a CS course, but that's a discussion for another time). The problem is, the people who teach these "CS" courses are the baseball coaches, PE teachers, random administrators, and anyone else who don't already teach a full load. There is no such thing as an accredited Computer Science Education degree in the state. Even NCATE wedges a CS education certification under "Educational Communications and Technology (Initial & Advanced Preparation)" instead of it's own category. Lets nail down what type of content needs to be taught to high school students, start training teachers, and I think the increase in AP CS takers will follow.

Comment What is their education? (Score 1) 809

I'm teaching a 200-level required course required for all CS and Mathematics majors right now... and they have to use mods to decrypt a 20ish character string a la RSA. Perhaps you're combing through a group without a fairly good formal education. Most any decent CS program will have taught their students the basics of public-private key encryption.

Comment South Carolina does "Science Enhancement" (Score 1) 457

South Carolina already does this. It's a "Science Enhancement" that's part of two scholarships (LIFE and Palmetto). You get an extra $2500 a year scholarship for your Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years if you are a declared science major and you take 14+ credits of math and science during your freshman year. Good program, but should be expanded. Problem isn't lack of smart students. It's lack of motivated students. It's hard to watch your roommates and friends who are psych majors go out every night and still get A's and B's while you work your ass off to get A's and B's in the sciences. An extra $5000 or so a year would go a long way to helping those students stick with it.

Comment Re:A more reasonable proposition (Score 1) 419

I'm a college mathematics and computer science professor, and this is EXACTLY what I'm doing.

I'm teaching an "Introduction to Computational Mathematics" course (basically a numerical analysis lite) and the only choice I had for texts was a $150+ numerical analysis text, which we would only use 1/8 of, at best. So I just wrote my own little 100 page text and gave it to the students for free, instead making them buy MATLAB for their personal computers, which will be something they'll use through numerous other mathematics/CS courses. This text, after some lessons learning this semester, will be published freely online.

I think the majority of professor who still care about their students would love to collaborate on free textbooks. I know the NSF has some programs for this, but they are heavily underused. I'm quite sure the textbook publishers would do everything in their power to prevent this though!

Submission + - Lenovo or Dell 3

pabn1987 writes: "Greetings again!

Just want to ask you guys out which would you prefer?

I'm planning to buy my first laptop and I have narrowed down my option to these two brands.

Lenovo "G" series and Dell Vostro

Which one would you get?

BTW.. I'll use it for work. Programming to be exact. The applications that I would be using are Visual Studio (any version), MS SQL (Any version), and other development tools. Which do you think should I get?

Thanks in advance.....

*respect the post.."

Comment Re:Don't do it! (Score 1) 176

Lord Crosis

Believe me, I am a HUGE believer in using the chalkboard, but we're getting a lot more non-traditional students that like the convenience of being able to look at their lectures outside of the classroom (yes, I know, that is not ideal for classroom discussions). I create lectures ahead of time, but don't display them, I simply work through them on the board. The way I plan to use the tablet is the same. I'd simply use it as a "computerized chalkboard" not as a powerpoint displayer that I can write on. Would you object to this? Essentially, the only difference would be that I don't walk back and forth in front of the class with my back turned to them. I do everything by hand, but while facing the class and looking them in the eye.

The other advantage is that if I do use technology (I'd use Matlab A LOT in linear algebra to demonstrate difficult examples), it doesn't feel so awkward. Right now, I stop lecturing, pull the screen down, turn on the projector, wait for it to warm up, login to the computer (or turn it on), then do an example. Then, if I wanna write something on the small remaining portion of the board, I can, but I really must put the screen back up and turn the projector off if I want to go back to lecturing.

So, the way I describe it above, does that seem a bit more interesting to you?

Comment Re:The Apple Tablet? (Score 1) 176

That's one of my questions actually.

Unless I'm mistaken, one of the i/o devices you're talking about lacks a display. If they do have a display, then we're talking about something like a Sympodium device, which I'd love to have, but is nowhere near my $1000 budget. Without a display, I envision the problem being that I'll have to face the board to write correctly, which would mean I cannot face the class. This is actually a big issue (if you've got an 8am class, good luck getting them to pay attention and not sleep if your back is turned from them the whole time). The other problem I'd see would be that in math, I'm not just scribbling text, I'll have to go back and edit equations, change entries in a matrix, etc. I believe it would be a bit of an issue for me to do this without being able to see exactly where I need to edit. I could be VERY wrong about this, but that's exactly why I wanted to ask! If you've used some of those devices, definitely let me know how they work!

The BIG problem here is money. If this were a state university, I'd get a tablet, get an i/o device, and get a sympodium and find out which was best for me. The dept. would be able to afford it, and someone in the dept would be able to use my "leftovers". Here, there are 4 of us in the Math/CS group, so not a lot of free flowing cash!

Comment Re:Thank you SLASHDOT!! (Score 1) 176

After finally getting through the majority of the comments, I just wanted to clear up some things that people were asking.

This would not be a personal computer, but rather belong to the department. If we went with a tablet, and not a fixed solution (like Sympodium) then it would likely be shared by 3-4 faculty.

For those of you who perhaps only had 1 or 2 math classes, we would use this for many classes from basic statistics to linear algebra and numerical analysis. Some suggestions have nice 5.6" screens and whatnot, but writing solutions to 4x4 matrix problems, or doing a simplex tableau, is not really feasible on something like that. So precision and screen real estate are of utmost importance.

The reason we're looking at a tablet is simply because of the ease in transferring to different classrooms, and the ease at which we can use it for non-classroom instruction. For example, right now I type of fairly detailed solutions to HW and exams in latex. I would instead record myself working out the problems on the tablet. Also, most other Math/CS/Bio/Chem professors do not post up solutions and things like that, so I was hoping I could convince them by showing how easy the tablet was to use.

I am at a SMALL private college in the rural south. We do not have a lot of money, and for those of your in higher education, I'm sure you've the huge drop in operating budgets this year. Under $1000 us really a must, until I can find some grant money, which will take at least a year.

I'm sorry to keep repeating myself, but thanks again for all of the comments. I've found a dozen or so suggestions which I need to go look into further!

Comment Re:The Apple Tablet? (Score 1) 176

Basically, we've got some off-site campuses that are 1-2 hr drives away, and none of the mathematics professors want to drive out there for lectures. You're 100% right that me going, doing work on the board, and doing a tradition lecture is best, but that's really not feasible. I can record lectures that I do here, but the problem is that the courses offered at the off-site campuses are not necessarily what I offer on the main campus, so I'd have to sit and lecture to and empty classroom. I thought doing a lecture on the tablet, while recording voice and video, would be akin to doing a lecture. I can also use it in my non-class time to work through HW solutions and exam solutions to post online for the students.

Comment Thank you SLASHDOT!! (Score 1) 176

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone's comments. I'm going to look further into a lot of your suggestions, but I see a few problems with some of them. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but these new "multitouch" devices won't support pen type input...right? They're basically going to work like a big iPod Touch, where you'll be using your fingers to navigate. Second, I looked into Wacom, because their add ons are extremely precise, but I believe I'd have to write while looking at the projector screen. To me, this is unacceptable, since I can't see my class (which, at 8am, is a HUGE advantage to actually face the class!). My college could like to increase the number of "remote" classes we can teach, so I need to get onboard soon. Odds are I'll try out one of these machines around $1000 and then apply for some grants to try to implement some of your "better" suggestions. I've been combing blogs and sites for two weeks trying to find some good info. I should have known better and just posted this to slashdot in the first place! Thank you everyone!

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Tablet PC for Classroom Instruction?

dostert writes: "With all of the recent hype of multitouch notebooks, the Apple Tablet, the Microsoft Courier, and the CrunchPad, I've been a bit curious about what happened to the good old pen and slate tablet PCs. I'm a mathematics professor at a small college and have been searching for a good cheap tablet (under $1000) which I can use to lecture, record the lecture notes along with my voice, and post up video lectures for the class. I have seen some suggestions, but many are large scale implementations at state universities, something my small private college clearly cannot afford. All I have been able to find is either tiny netbooks (like the new Asus T91), expensive full featured tablets (like the Dell XT), or multitouch tablets, that really wouldn't allow for the type of precision mathematics needs. I know a Sympodium device would work great, but we really can't afford to put one of those in each room, so something portable would be ideal. All I've been left with is considering an HP tx series. It seems nobody has created a new tablet like this in quite sometime, and HP, Fujitsu, and Dell are just doing incremental updates to their old designs. Does anyone have experience with this?"

Comment Ripit4me (Score 1) 501

Sorry to repeat some of the other things said, but I haven't found a good Linux solution either. I still use my windows box to do it. I use RipIt4Me, which in turn uses DVD Decrypter and DVD Shrink. Works on 99.9% of all DVDs. Only thing I had an issue with was Wall-E (chapters were all out of order for some reason!).

In general, I go to []

for any information about ripping, converting, or anything to do with audio/video help (as the name would imply).

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