“What we’ve done is allow you to come in and do that without any cost to the researcher [and his or her institution],” said Evans, chair of Microsoft’s Higher Education Advisory Group. “Those things pay forward.”
‘The worst of both worlds’
Sanjoy Mahajan, associate director of MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory and author of Street-Fighting Mathematics, opened the EduComm conference with a plea to colleges and universities: Stop rote learning.
Rote learning, Mahajan said, produces college graduates who can rattle off complex formulas and definitions without really understanding what they mean. He said this method combines a computer’s inability to make logical judgments with a human’s inability to make thousands or millions of calculations every second.
“Its’ just a problem-solving disaster,” said Mahajan, who used two paper cones of different sizes to calculate the fuel efficiency of a 747. “It’s the worst of both worlds.”
Instead, educators should let students use their instinct more in the classroom—instead of repeating facts and figures—while taking advantage of a computer’s massive calculation ability, he said.
“We all think rigor is a good thing,” Mahajan said. “But if you’re not careful, it turns into rigor mortis.”
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