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Education Handhelds IOS Programming Hardware

For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad 340

Posted by timothy
from the depends-how-prussian-you-want-to-get dept.
theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"
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For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad

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  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @08:44AM (#44723383)

    You can't make a BASIC interpreter App and get it listed on the Apple store, for folks to download.

    Any app that provides programmability is not allowed.... therefore; the TI-series calculators or Android devices will Always provide a better experience for tinkerers, and be the way to go if you want to learn about technology ---- until (or unless) Apple changes their ways, the iOS platform they have provided is essentially a black box: you are not meant to understand it, not meant to program it -- just to consume content on it.

    It's not really a learning tool; although there is educational and informational content that can be consumed on the device to learn things.

    Of course... Android is a better learning tool, and an iOS device such as a iPhone or iPad should not be the first one you get or your first choice: if you might be an engineering type and want to learn about, tinker with the technology, or see how it works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @09:08AM (#44723487)

    This is the number one reason why anything running iOS should be banned from use in education.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @09:09AM (#44723493)

    techBASIC is an amazing BASIC programming environment available from the App Store. It has good built in libraries for graphics and interfacing with Bluetooth sensors. It also has lots of useful example programs to start from. It is fun to tinker with and I think it would be a great tool for education.

  • Re:Precribing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by causality (777677) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @09:38AM (#44723623)

    You should never seek to make yourself helpless or at the mercy of people that know more than you do.

    When you have a culture in which average people believe thinking and reasoning is a terrible burden to be avoided or offloaded at every opportunity, you naturally will observe the kind of dependency and vulnerability you point out here. It leads to people who don't want to be involved in decisions that drastically affect their own lives.

    Somehow there arose this myth that you either know nothing at all, or must be a fully trained expert, that no intermediate level of knowledge, no amount of reference could ever be useful.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @09:50AM (#44723699)
    ...The best calculator for education (IMO) is none at all. I'm not writing this as a luddite (or not entirely): I own an HP48G+ and a TI-89, and I'll admit that they are a useful means to take the gruntwork out of a lot of calculations (especially the TI-89 with its capacity for symbolic differentiation and integration).

    My contention is that any calculator often tends to become a crutch that actually gets in the way of learning, in the sense that it effectively encourages the student to spit out the "answer", when the point is to understand how it is obtained.

    When I studied first-year maths at Uni, most of my fellow-students never even got to grips with the fundamental theorem of calculus, which of course means that for the entirety of the course, they were parroting little mini-formulae without really understanding how it fitted together. And using any calculator to find points of inflexion on a curve is just a big time-waster when you can scribble them with a pencil much faster than you can punch the keys.

    Getting back to my earlier remarks about gruntwork, though, my best choice for this - if only it existed- would be a TI-89 that does RPN (with the nice clicky keys and the big "Enter" button exactly under the index finger). Fat chance...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @02:28PM (#44725435)

    Holy christ, write a fucking emulator without the serial port support then.

    Jesus H. Christ. There is nothing stopping you from typing in your own programs, or cutting and pasting them in, or even loading & saving them via a dropbox/icloud stores, cutting a pasting from a web page, saved text file or similar. All of which are a lot simpler than connecting two devices via a serial cable.

    Number of engineering schools I've attended: 2.
    Number of engineering degrees I hold: 2.
    Number of TI programmable calculators I've owned in my life: 6, including 2 TI-83's.
    Number of other programmable calculators I've seen other people using in my life: several hundred, easily. Perhaps thousands.
    Number of times I've ever seen anybody transfer a program from one TI-8x calculator to another over the serial port: 0.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @08:37PM (#44727545)

    Somebody, or some team can. However, very few of the students that do some programming will ever progress to creating a significant app.

    And there's no need. There's no shortage of apps. People don't tend to be limited by a lack of apps.

    The big picture is that programming doesn't need to be a widespread activity. It's a specialism. We don't all need to dabble with architecture, plumbing or dentistry either.

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