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Technology use in education?

  1. Jan 8, 2017 #26

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    This is not an all or nothing choice. What I and others in this thread are saying is that while technology is useful after some basic concepts have been mastered, you have to be aware of its limitations. Being able to do 360 billion arithmetic operations per second is of no use if most of them are wrong. For a more modern example that doesn't rely on a bug in a particular 24-year-old CPU, consider this:
    Code (C):

    float sum = 0.0;
    for (int i = 0; i < 20; i++)
       sum = sum + .05;
    if (sum == 1.0) printf("Success\n");
    else printf("Failure\n");
     
    Here we are adding .05 to itself 20 times, so the result should be 1. After only 20 additions (orders of magnitudes fewer than 360 billion!), the output is "Failure" because sum is measurably larger than 1.0. On my Pentium i7 system running Visual Studio 2015, sum ends up at 1.00000012. The same code will produce similar incorrect results on other architectures and other compilers.
     
  2. Jan 8, 2017 #27

    lurflurf

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    ^
    It must have been your lucky day you were only off in the least significant bit.
    That is a perfect result let us rejoice at the power of technology.

    It takes me a long time to do 360 billion arithmetic operations. Computers only get most of them wrong in the unfair sense that they have limited precision. That is not really wrong. The Pentium misses the precision goal on 40 out of 360 billion divisions, even that is not so bad. If more accuracy and precision are needed by all means double check results that is how the error was found. Hand calculation is quite useless and a waste of time. I am moderate on the issue. Spend a thousand hours or so practicing your hand calculations if you like, you will not be able to beat a 20$ calculator much less a 200$ calculator/tablet or 2000$ computer.
     
  3. Jan 9, 2017 #28

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Can you expand on this a bit? Specifically, why you consider education disjoint from the 'real world'.
     
  4. Jan 9, 2017 #29

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    When students first learn some technique, such as finding the factors of a polynomial, or solving a differential equation, or calculating the trajectory of a thrown ball, there are assumptions usually made to make the calculations simpler. After the students attain some proficiency at the particular technique, some of the simplifying assumptions can be relaxed, so that the problems can at least approach those of the real world.
     
  5. Jan 9, 2017 #30

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    You're repeating yourself. The argument here seems to be that quantity trumps quality. Either that or you're just trolling.
     
  6. Jan 9, 2017 #31

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I hear what you are saying, I would reply that "when learning something new, try to deal with a simplified situation before dealing with the full mess" is a common and important real-world situation. In the context of STEM classroom technology, the processes of simplification and complexification can be clearly demonstrated.
     
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