Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 12:48 UTC
In the News "We all know about the gadgets that get showered with constant praise - the icons, the segment leaders, and the game changers. Tech history will never forget the Altair 8800, the Walkman, the BlackBerry, and the iPhone. But people do forget - and quickly - about the devices that failed to change the world: the great ideas doomed by mediocre execution, the gadgets that arrived before the market was really ready, or the technologies that found their stride just as the world was pivoting to something else." I was a heavy user of BeOS, Zip drives, and MiniDisc (I was an MD user up until about 2 years ago). I'm starting to see a pattern here.
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RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by Morgan on Fri 24th Aug 2012 19:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
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Have you played with the newest TI-Nspire CX calculators? We got a couple of them in at my part time job as former demo units, and I must say that they are very impressive devices! The screen is simply gorgeous, they are rechargeable with excellent battery life, they can do chemical notation(!) and they are so, so fast.

I hate that I sound like an advertisement but, short of the inescapable form factor, they really are outstanding for their intended use.

I think the key difference between using a calculator like that and using a mobile phone, when speaking of the classroom, is the ease with which a student could cheat given an Internet capable phone. I suppose the instructor could require the phone be placed in airplane mode, but it's still just way too easy to cheat with one. It's not impossible with the calculator either, but it's also not so drastic to ask a student to wipe the calculator and reset it to defaults as it is to have them wipe their phone and risk losing months or even years of valuable data.

I could even see a situation where an instructor would confiscate the phone for the duration of the class, whereas he wouldn't do that to a student's calculator given they are designed specifically for use in the classroom.

I believe a student nowadays should be able to easily do all of the cool fun stuff you did on your calculator on their mobile phone.

Though I certainly agree with your sentiment here, unfortunately there's a key variable in this situation: A phone is a media consumption device that distracts the student from truly immersing himself in the experience of programming on the device. A second factor is the lack of good programming environments for the devices; though Android and even Windows Phone have rudimentary IDEs for this, they are severely limited in what they allow access to. In the latter's case, it's basically a GUI-driven GUI creator, similar to Visual Basic but with little actual code.

A third factor is the lack of a physical keyboard on most current devices, and while one could always whip out a Bluetooth keyboard, at that point it becomes tedious enough to say "screw it, I'm carrying a netbook/ultrabook with me". And a fourth factor is scope; back when I was programming on the TI calcualtor, it was because I was interested in learning about that specific platform. Programs were designed to enhance the device and "fill in the gaps" in its default software. With a modern smartphone, there is no need for that for most users; they just download an app (written, tested and debugged on a PC) that fills that need. If I truly want to delve into the inner workings of the ARM platform, well that's what I bought a Raspberry Pi for.

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