[Edu-sig] Happy New Year!

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Dec 31 23:07:37 CET 2008

Greetings edu-siggers --

I was pleased to get my second XO yesterday, am lugging junior to an
annual gathering in Southern Oregon today, to share with future movers
and shakers (actually Quakers).

My agenda for 2009 is to stick with the pro-SQL campaign, still
thinking of the latest OSCON, in which I talked about cube farmer
frustrations with no "open source Access" and the panelists suggested
SQL was in itself meeting students more than half way, i.e. they just
need to go the extra mile and stop using training wheels for SQL, even
if you want the razzle dazzle Reports (lots of packages have that --
just go straight to PDF half the time).

Serving through a browser, using a simple web framework (might be
*very* simple) makes plenty of sense on a local laptop, plus your
design now tends to scale (unlike some "fat clients" we know).

So, lotsa LAMP in high school, easy to implement, apropos in GIS/GPS
class (i.e. geography -- a prerequisite for planning jobs, or like
with Google Earth).

More about that here, including changing LAMP to ARM or AMP maybe:


Anyway, SQL ties in with "computer algebra" as a kind of marketing
name, in addition to "gnu math" and is not that off target, given the
abstract algebra themes we've been seeing, i.e. once your focus
becomes "type centric" (even with "duck typing") the next logical
question (in biology too) is what inter-operates with what, i.e. what
binary ops have defined outcomes / meanings, raising issues of
closure, versus exceptions, etc.

Makes plenty of sense to use small finite sets, integers modulo, build
towards RSA -- all that old hat stuff per my Vegetable Group Soup
(Flash animation, many other exhibits, on Cut the Knot or wherever).

Of course the real questions are all about implementation:

Will NCLB get some funding for a change, such that teachers have
plenty of opportunities to pick up on this stuff while still holding
down the day job?

I think in the affirmative on this one, as in-service training has
always been a part of the job description.  However, there's no
guarantee that (a) math teachers are always first in line or (b) your
zip code will have it before someplace in Cambodia or Peru (lots of
smart geeks out there, not waiting for a green light from any "NCLB
Czar", snicker).

Looking forward to 2009!


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