
Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!
Posted:
May 15, 2013 2:53 AM


As I already wrote, "Whether [the training wheels] has the intended effect is a separate question." That's an empirical question to be decided by experience of new learners and teachers of new learners.
Meanwhile, an experienced user can turn off the doodads.
On May 13, 2013, at 4:46 PM, djmpark <djmpark@comcast.net> wrote:
> I don't believe the "training wheels" model can really achieve the > objective. Are these people preschoolers? The situation is rather something > like this. Suppose all education was conducted orally until the junior year > in college. No or little writing. Then the students are to get into some > serious writing work. They are to write a critique of Marcel Proust's > Remembrance of Things Past. They do get some powerful tools to do this: a > computer with Microsoft Word, which has spell checking and some passable > syntax and grammar checking; a dictionary and French/English lexicon, and > French and English versions of Proust's work and maybe a couple grammars. > And since the students have never written much before, Word has been > augmented with training wheels. A little button always appears at the start > of a new paragraph with choices 1) Would you like to type a new sentence? 2) > Would you like to enter a sentence in free spoken form? 3) Would you like > LiteraryAlpha to search for ideas on some topic? 4) Would you like to start > a new Section? At the end of a paragraph a Suggestions box will appear with > something like "Would you like us to add a sentence on Marcel's health > problems in relation to the topic?" Gee, I never thought about health > problems. So nice to remind me of that. Several weeks of this and they > should be up to speed. > > Do you believe that method would achieve some worthwhile objective? Isn't it > rather that it usually takes years for a student to become really good at > expressing and manipulating ideas in written form? It's not surprising that > some students, without much experience, would become terrified at a blank > sheet of paper. Now add in mathematics and all of the new active and > dynamical possibilities for expressing and manipulating mathematical ideas > and don't we have a considerably greater learned skill? You can't replace > extended education and practice by software. It's the failure to get > Mathematica into early education that is the problem and getting it there is > the remedy.. .. > > > From: Murray Eisenberg [mailto:murray@math.umass.edu] > > Re "clean" notebook interface: > > An experienced Mathematica user might well prefer a totally clean notebook > as starting point for some work. But a new user, or potential new customer, > might well panic at an essentially blank window. (The faint horizontal line > with it's "+" icon at the top of a new notebook window is at least a > starting point. > > Similarly for once the new user has typed and possibly evaluated some input: > what should go there? what's the correct form? what can I do with it? So WRI > has attempted to provide some guidance directly in the notebook, outside the > Documentation Center. (Whether it has the intended effect is a separate > question.) > > For example, suppose the new user, or somebody just trying out Mathematica, > successfully types and evaluates: > > Plot[Exp[x] Cos[x], {x, Pi/2, Pi/2}] > > And possibly (probably?) the user wants to enhance the graph. How do that? > Well, the Nextcomputation Suggestions Bar provides an immediate and obvious > way to approach it  without having to look up Plot, wade through the long > list of Options. > > I write the above as somebody who has helped hundreds of university students > learn Mathematica and who realizes how much more efficient the learning > would have been over the years had such front end doodads been available. > They're like bicycle training wheels: they can help you get started, but you > can get rid of them when they get in the way.. .. >
 Murray Eisenberg murray@math.umass.edu Mathematics & Statistics Dept. Lederle Graduate Research Tower phone 413 5491020 (H) University of Massachusetts 413 5452838 (W) 710 North Pleasant Street fax 413 5451801 Amherst, MA 010039305

