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Topic: Calculator$ versus computer$
Replies: 1   Last Post: Oct 10, 1995 1:24 PM

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Edward S. Miller

Posts: 15
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: [CALC-REFORM:2874] Calculator$ versus computer$
Posted: Oct 10, 1995 1:24 PM
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On Tue, 10 Oct 1995, Jerry Uhl wrote:

> A fact to consider:
> If one could get $100 per student (roughly the price of a calculator), then
> this money could be used to equip and run a superb computer lab for all
> students.
> For instance here at Illinois, we have 500 students in
> Calculus&Mathematica. At $100 per student, this would generate $50,000-
> plenty of money for a great lab.

I'm going to jump in on this one in the "been there -- done that "
position. $50,000 produces approxiately a 1:20 student-computer ratio.
Add in software and other goodies, maybe a 1:25 ratio. Working back over
a three year rolling replacement, let's say a 1:8 ratio.

So far so good -- each student gets two hours of computer time a day.
But wait: most of my students spend an hour in class and two out of class
doing homework. You run into critical time shortages.

Don't forget the cost of human lab monitors. 80 hours a week times two
bodies times minimum wage times 32 weeks and there goes your 50,000 dollars.

Startup costs for labs include furniture, networking if you are so
inclined, and even rewiring rooms for sufficient electrical outlets.
Maybe new air conditioning.

Don't get me wrong: I like computers and use them all the time in
class. It is definitely cheaper to buy calculators.

> And this lab could be used by ALL students - not just the rich kids.

That is all of the students who can afford to spend two extra hours a day
on campus, which is not true of many commuting students. Those with
computers at home can buy software -- those without are out of luck.

Well, this thing sounded negative, but it is a cautionary tale. I want
to use both tools every day and want my students to also, but computers
are even farther beyond the reach of my students than calculators.
Computers are certainly beyond the reach of my school.


Edward S. Miller

Division of Natural Sciences VOICE 208-799-2810
Lewis-Clark State College FAX 208-799-2064
500 8th Avenue
Lewiston ID 83501-2698 USA

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