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Blog Comments

  1. vpwphoto's Avatar
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    Wow took balls to write it.
    I have heard similar comments at a university near me.
    "Kids today have an education a mile wide and 3" deep."
    I try to give my son some blue collar skills (he is 16 now). How to change oil etc.. then someone says, why, he'll never do it. I just found out that in some countries it is illegal to change your own oil due to environmental issues (Germany I think)... those folks that pour it in the sewers I guess spoil it for all.
    Anyway... I learned to program a TRS-80... people say "my kid is good at computers"... but they have never programmed.
    I wonder what would happen if the power went out... (I know there is some movie about this).
    I helped a PhD student jump start here Lexus, she didn't seem to understand polarity, and said something about a/c current. SHe had a PhD in Engineering and really didn't seem to understand how to jump start a car, and understand that while "lights came on" there was not enough "punch" in the battery to spin the starter.
  2. dslater's Avatar
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    Weren't CME's imaged with ground based instruments and film using H-alpha filters before they were imaged by satellites?
  3. dslater's Avatar
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    No more experimental errors huh? Seems like a serious disservice to the students to me. Accounting for and propagating experimental errors is is probably one of the harder parts of experimental design and analysis. What exactly do they expect these students to do when they try to break new ground and experiment in areas that haven't been discovered yet?
  4. silveror0's Avatar
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    As I was reading your essay, I immediately recalled a recent experience. Waiting for my wife to get ready, I turned on the tube (a rare event) and on came this teacher at a whiteboard demonstrating long-hand division, followed by long-hand square roots, as I'd learned long ago. It was fascinating. But I suppose the abacus is long gone. Anyway I couldn't help thinking if his efforts were being wasted on students who can no longer balance a checkbook and would be rendered helpless when the AC power goes out or the batteries die.
  5. aleksmiesak's Avatar
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    Love it! Exactly what my life has been consisting for the past few months
  6. keithwms's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments!

    I have to say, it's funny to me that some people, particularly from one segment of academia that considers itself the ultimate authority on education, have given me all manner of guff for this commentary, which I considered to be rather light and gentle. Somehow I, as a guy who's spent a lot of time designing new kinds of transistors and such, am painted as anti-technology. What would I know. It's all very amusing.

    Arkasha, the university (not my current one, by the way) went for the computers for one and only one reason: convenience. As I have said in various places, one has to look at the computer- and online-based approaches and ask, are they improving the teaching? Or are they simply saving money by cutting back on real faculty resources... Anyway what would I know, I am just a person who hires young scientists and engineers...

    About the problem of numbers, what I find to be very effective is to divide the students up into groups of 10 or fewer. They will then self organize in a way that ensures everyone keeps up with material and I can then solve many issues by speaking to the group and save a lot of time that way. The saved time can then be spent with the students who really need it most. It's a compromise... but one that many of us must make, just because of the boost in enrollment and simultaneous loss of skilled faculty.
  7. jnanian's Avatar
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    hi keith

    i feel like a caveman to think that i used a pen and pencil and paper to take notes
    and from time to time i pull out a college textbook and look at notes i took in the books
    as i try to explain to my kids what a soffit is, or what the temple of athena nike looks like
    or what chiaroscuro is .
    i am waiting to read your next installment to hear that you and your colleagues were replaced by max headroom.
  8. Arkasha's Avatar
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    Your essay resonates strongly with me. I work in a physics department, and my job is to invent, repair, and set up demonstrations for the undergraduate courses. I'm very surprised that any physics department would think that apps actually replace watching rocket whiz past or pulling up hundreds of pounds with a rope and few pulleys. Every semester the students always report the demos make a real difference. They enjoy them. They like being surprised by them.

    We've also kept the old-fashioned lab equipment. Students struggle with decades-old force-vector tables, resistor boxes, and the like. While we do buy new equipment, it's actual equipment, not some app boolsheet. Students may not like to use spectroscopes in the dark, but they damned well will.

    About the only concession we've made to modernity is to use i-clickers. We do find them useful, since it gives students an incentive to show up. We long ago gave up knowing the students personally, since we typically have 100+ in every section of every class. We just can't do anything about that.

    So why did your university go for this app nonsense?
  9. keithwms's Avatar
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    The problem in Turkey isn't unique. There is so much pressure, worldwide, for students to find placement in universities. It just isn't possible, the numbers don't add up... and would we really want everyone to get a ~4 yr college degree? I think we do need more schools that teach real-world skills, and which really help them find good jobs.
  10. Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    I dont know who is luckier , US students or Turkish Students. This Sunday , 2 million high school graduates will enter to the exams for university and 200 000 will be accepted. 1.8 million will look to the air. But gov universities costs 400 dollars per year. If I had 1 billion , I would build a 2 million students university campus for them. I am seeing in my dreams while I was designing the campus.

    I think we must find a solution for them , may be more open universities , distant education programs. Rich families send their children to abroad and they could find third grade universities and departments and they remain jobless here. There is few public libraries full of 60 years of age books and interlibrary costs 25 dollars per book. Ah thank you internet , everyone have it and if they can escape from oscar movie stars or football or shit loaded women pictures of microsoft site , they can do something.

    Gov passes 12 year education rule and its good but we need more , we must make it 16.

    Thank you god , there is no visa to Russia or Ukraine and university and dormitory costs 2000 dollars per year , same expense with Turkey.

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