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I can see where this discussion is going.  smiley-evil

If I can make a suggestion to make such discussion more useful, I mean, with a conclusion that someone can read and say, ah I am a digital (il)literate by the standards of these many folks.

Suggestion: Someone post a poll where multiple options can be chosen. The poll is "What is included in digital literacy?". Its choices will dynamically increase as more people bring more items to the table. It will first be asking for what options someone wants on the poll for about a week, then the items are all entered into a poll and the poll runs and concludes after a week or so and results displayed on this board.

Anyone with experience running such poll online? I thought the forum poll is only single selection. This can be something quite useful and interesting to read and analyze.
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Suggestion: Someone post a poll where multiple options can be chosen. The poll is "What is included in digital literacy?". Its choices will dynamically increase as more people bring more items to the table. It will first be asking for what options someone wants on the poll for about a week, then the items are all entered into a poll and the poll runs and concludes after a week or so and results displayed on this board.

Anyone with experience running such poll online? I thought the forum poll is only single selection. This can be something quite useful and interesting to read and analyze.


http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=online+poll+creatorr#hl=en&sa=X&ei=dnfuTbeGIoyDhQfl0-CzCQ&ved=0CFYQvwUoAQ&q=online+poll+creator&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=eb847c1bda400d6d&biw=1366&bih=576

Take your pick! Any thoughts for what options there could be? I'm thinking something demonstrating knowledge of programming languages and how to use them:

  • Knowing some simple programming language(s)
  • Knowing some simple web design language(s)
  • Basic knowledge of above
  • Detailed knowledge of first two
  • Understanding what a compiler is and what it does
  • Being able to make efficient codes
  • Creating a code that does the job

Just some suggestions, so feel free to add and alter the list!

Onions.
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This isn't one of those mechanical Turk scenarios where computers have difficulty - I can see the end of the line, so can the computer.

If you understood the halting problem (and the way computers really work at a very base level) - you would understand why it can't (the fact that you don't understand pointers says you still have a lot to learn)...

smiley

Then why prefix your statement with “If” if you already know the answer. I’ve never heard of the halting problem. Is it something that halts when it shouldn’t, or doesn’t halt when it should? Can’t someone give it a little shove?

I’ve got an immense amount to learn — most of it nothing to do with computer programming or microprocessors or technical things like that, and pretty much most of it far more important (although I wouldn’t have thought so back in the ’70s when I was a synthesizer-obsessed teenager reading the SC/MP processor app notes over and over and wishing I could afford one).

Pointers are pretty much the place where I gave up and put everything away. Nothing needs to be this difficult and obtuse. There’s far easier stuff in my life that I haven’t even got time to try and learn, and most of that is stacking up. Am I unique in this respect? Is everyone else on the planet so unoccupied and bored that they can put aside the important stuff for a few decades and fight with badly implemented concepts of such poor usability that they all eventually become expert at it? No. I’m not unique.
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Another thing Ian is that this is often like that.

Pointers ARE confusing.  I wish they didn't exist.  When I first saw them, I wondered which sadistic moron took away my ROM BASIC free-form variables, just like you.  I for the life of me couldn't figure out the need, except to torture me personally.  For 99% of things, you can act like they don't exist.  At some point in writing software, it will suddenly make sense the reasoning behind it.. but it's like trying  explain "Blue" to someone who was blind since birth.  You simply have no reference point yet (though that librarian one is an AWESOMELY good one, I'll have to remember it), so it's a crazy concept.. what's color to a blind person?  Now, you get an operation and you start seeing things.. but it's STILL not that easy.  Your eyes "see" patterns of light, but your BRAIN will still have to learn to what to interpret those TOTALLY NEW sensory inputs as.  Even if the first "color" you see *is* blue, how would you know?

As you learn, you'll see the WHY.  You'll also quickly understand the danger of making it "looser" than it is.  There's no magic or incantations to any of this.. believe it or not, what you see is the result of the best the world has to offer.  This *is* the state of the art, really, in some respects.. the GNU C Compiler (aka GCC) which is under Arduino is a world-class, open source system, arguably the best out there.  What you see in front of you really IS the simplest it can be while still working within the restrictions of the hardware and giving you as much control as it can.

It's 2011, where the hell is my flying car, in other words..
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 03:28:48 pm by focalist » Logged

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If that’s the case, then there’s no point and no need in my getting involved — I’ll just stick to what I’m good at. Digital illiteracy is the destination, not the problem.
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Suggestion: Someone post a poll where multiple options can be chosen. The poll is "What is included in digital literacy?". Its choices will dynamically increase as more people bring more items to the table. It will first be asking for what options someone wants on the poll for about a week, then the items are all entered into a poll and the poll runs and concludes after a week or so and results displayed on this board.

Anyone with experience running such poll online? I thought the forum poll is only single selection. This can be something quite useful and interesting to read and analyze.


http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=online+poll+creatorr#hl=en&sa=X&ei=dnfuTbeGIoyDhQfl0-CzCQ&ved=0CFYQvwUoAQ&q=online+poll+creator&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=eb847c1bda400d6d&biw=1366&bih=576

Take your pick! Any thoughts for what options there could be? I'm thinking something demonstrating knowledge of programming languages and how to use them:

  • Knowing some simple programming language(s)
  • Knowing some simple web design language(s)
  • Basic knowledge of above
  • Detailed knowledge of first two
  • Understanding what a compiler is and what it does
  • Being able to make efficient codes
  • Creating a code that does the job

Just some suggestions, so feel free to add and alter the list!

Onions.


What about survey monkey? I've heard of it.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/

My addition:
History of computing (2010 BC to AD 2010)
Digital numbers and boolean algebra
Digital media and data, information security, virus, spam, and information/digital terrorism
Good-taste internet browsing and healthy relationship with computing tools (computers, phones, tablets, game consoles)
Monopoly and oligopoly in software and hardware industries and open source initiatives
Intellectual property and piracy on digital information software and media
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Another thing Ian is that this is often like that.

Pointers ARE confusing.  I wish they didn't exist.

From machine code point of view, a pointer can be translated into indirect addressing of a variable, which otherwise may not be addressable. You provide an address as an operand for say an ADD operation, the cpu takes the address, retrieves a number from that address, and uses the retrieved number as an address, then retrieves the actual operand stored in this address, does the operation (say add) and then stores the answer somewhere. Things like pointers started to make a lot of sense after I learned how cpu stores instructions and data in the memory and assembly. A pointer is like a ladder to descend to the ugly details of machine world from elegant C/C++. You can only do so much without pointers in C.

"Any of the addressing modes mentioned in this article could have an extra bit to indicate indirect addressing, i.e. the address calculated using some mode is in fact the address of a location (typically a complete word) which contains the actual effective address.

Indirect addressing may be used for code or data. It can make implementation of pointers or references or handles much easier, and can also make it easier to call subroutines which are not otherwise addressable. Indirect addressing does carry a performance penalty due to the extra memory access involved.

Some early minicomputers (e.g. DEC PDP-8, Data General Nova) had only a few registers and only a limited addressing range (8 bits). Hence the use of memory indirect addressing was almost the only way of referring to any significant amount of memory."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addressing_mode
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Heated discussion about writing extremely new languages/dialects.
This while most of the homo sapiens, ~50.000 years old, couldn't read or write 100 years ago.
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Liudr, the thing is... as accurate as your description is, it's specifically that type of explanation that ends up being "the problem".  That's really the whole discussion... how much value is gained by "simplifying", and at what cost in terms of efficiency.  Once he understands how variables work, from experience and experimentation, he'll "get it", but up until then, that Wiki entry is more likely to confuse a beginner than explain it in a way they would understand.  The challenge of teaching is getting someone to understand something that's currently beyond what they understand.. how do you "guide" curiosity without stifling it?

You are abstracting LCD interfacing with your libraries, making it "simpler", but there are costs in terms of efficiency and flexibility at the end, you must admit.  To gain the ease of use of your lib, you sacrifice a bit of detailed control.  Nature of the beast.

Your lib for LCD text interfacing and menus makes programming certain tasks easier by hiding the code and providing a set of simple functions.  Great stuff.  The point is that some would say that you have "dumbed it down".  Even if that is true, it is okay, if it allows someone with less skill to effectively use a keypad and LCD interface that would otherwise be too hard for them, at least early on.  A beginner may continue to use your stuff once they learn the underlying workings, but it wouldn't be NEEDED, unlike it may have been early on in user's learning curve..
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 08:12:56 pm by focalist » Logged

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This isn't one of those mechanical Turk scenarios where computers have difficulty - I can see the end of the line, so can the computer.

If you understood the halting problem (and the way computers really work at a very base level) - you would understand why it can't (the fact that you don't understand pointers says you still have a lot to learn)...

smiley

Then why prefix your statement with “If” if you already know the answer. I’ve never heard of the halting problem. Is it something that halts when it shouldn’t, or doesn’t halt when it should? Can’t someone give it a little shove?

Note the following piece of C-like pseudo-code:

Code:
int x = 0;
while (true) {
  x++;
}

...would it be possible to write a program which could look at this program, and determine if it will ever end (assume infinite memory and time)? What about this program:

Code:
recurse();

function recurse() {
  recurse();
}

...or this program:

Code:
step1();

function step1() {
  step2();
}

function step2() {
  step1();
}

For either of these preceding examples, would you be able to write a program that could determine if it will ever end (assume infinite memory and time)?

The fact is - you can't - it's impossible (at least according to mathematicians):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem

The above gives a much better explanation of the problem than I have, but suffice it to say, if you -were- able to solve said problem (for a non-trivial example), not only would you win a Nobel prize, you'd probably become rich beyond your imagination, and a hero to the world. Don't worry about that possibility, though...

Your asking of a computer being able to decide where "the end of a line is" without using a delimiter of some sort (even if its just some kind of whitespace, like a carriage return or line feed), is (at its core) a subset of the halting problem. What's interesting about the halting problem though (in its generalized form), is that it is possible for a human to look at an algorithm - and determine that it will either halt or not; we can do this, but we are unable (mathematically unable) to make a machine do the same thing. This is at the core of Gödel's incompleteness theorems:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorem

In fact - it is something that really shakes the whole core of mathematics (from what I understand - but I am not a mathematician, so I may be wrong) - the fact that we can't know, using mathematics, whether the rules for mathematics are complete or correct (you can't know this about an axiomatic system using the axioms of that system). That isn't to say our systems of mathematics are wrong - only to say that there isn't any way for us to know for sure. Mathematically - its unknowable.
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Judging by the standards of some of the posts in other threads (not this one, obviously), we should be equally concerned about ordinary literacy.

Just saying...
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Judging by the standards of some of the posts in other threads (not this one, obviously), we should be equally concerned about ordinary literacy.

Just saying...

heh. I try to be somewhat forgiving in that area (don't always succeed, however!), esp. considering the world-wide nature of these forums. But yes, all too often the native English speakers are harder to understand than non-native English speakers.
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I'm curious.. how many out there have taught?  Not necessarily electronics, computer programming, or anything technical... Elementary School English is fine.  I'll even throw in an automatic "yes" if you have kids that are at least early teenagers and can actually be taught something.  Or even a scout leader.  

Teaching is the hardest job I ever did.  I did hard physical labor jobs, tech jobs, medical jobs.. a wide variety of jobs over the years.  For about a year and a half, I taught Software Concepts at a small tech school.  I had to come up with the curriculum to boot- I was the first teacher for this new course, I was to develop the courseware on the fly.

Writing and putting together course work was nothing.

I learned so much when I was teaching.. not technical things, I learned about HOW people learn.  What's effective, what will stick... and what will glaze over a classroom's eyes in twenty seconds.  It doesn't matter at ALL if your answers are right to ten decimal places, if nobody is listening.  My students came to really enjoy my class- and said that it was one of the best they had taken-- because they left understanding the "common sense" level of the material.. not just having memorized a bunch of worthless facts.  Understanding is the key, you can always go look up the details.  These here InterWebs and suchness are perfect for getting the details.  What you can't get is a way to get someone to the point where they even know what questions to ask, much less the answers.

I really recommend that if you never have, try to teach a seminar or something at the community college where you live.  

A good teacher doesn't have to know the subject matter at all.. a good teacher can teach ANY subject.  I think I was at most a mediocre teacher, the material I used was a bit thin and hastily assembled, some of it badly written, and a few blatant errors.  The thing is, I kept the class engaged.  I'd keep on working with easier and easier analogies until it made sense to them, and then work back up.  I found that method to be the one that was most effective in actually teaching something useful.  I had a fantastic teacher for Statistics, Logic, and Biometrics classes a million years ago.. and he made those subjects actually enjoyable.  Well, at least tolerable.  I tried to emulate his style, and it worked.

You teachers out there... it's you I want to hear from.  Educating is a nightmare, as you know.  Teaching is an art form all it's own.. and if we want to talk about subject literacy, why not get some input from real teachers?  (I faked it, at best)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 11:45:26 am by focalist » Logged

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There now, a basic survey for the subject: http://www.harryrabbit.co.uk/electronics/survey.htm. It mixes in some ideas posted here, although there was not enough room for all of them, so it cannot expand, either. As I said, it is a basic survey, so someone else could put together a better one. It will suffice for the moment though...

Onions.
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I worked in IT for a very long time at various positions from programmer to director of programming at one of the fortune 500.  I was totally disillusioned at the corporate handling of people and projects and just wanted out.  I went to school part time and picked up a master's in education and went through all the hoops of testing and such to become a high school teacher.  I was certified in Social Studies, History, Math and General Science, and after some searching, I was offered a job and accepted it to get my feet wet.  I should have known better.

My offer came on the last day before school started and I was assigned to teach 6 classes a day of first year Algebra.  So, no time for preparation, lesson plans or nothing.  No mentor teacher for this first-timer; just toss him in and watch what happens.  I lasted 11 weeks before I gave up.

Why?  Well, the classes were all > 28 students, it was the first year of 'immersion' for Special Needs kids, English immersion for non-English speakers had happened the year before and it was tough to handle it all.  So, when one tries to teach to the smart kids, the less smart get lost and throw their pencils at each other.  When you try to teach to the less smart, the smart ones get bored and throw their pencils at each other.  The ESL (English as a Second Language) students are always lost so they throw their pencils at each other.  There is a minimal dress code so the girls have to hold their backpacks in their laps to keep from showing their panties.  The boys are always trying to get the backpacks away from them.  Cell phones are constantly being used under the desk so it's hard to see.  Ipods are hidden in bras with the cord run under the blouse, under the hair and into the ears to keep them out of sight.  The ESL students set together with the best English speaker trying to translate for them so there is a constant murmur of some foreign language.  To add insult to an already painful job, teachers are constantly required to prove that they are 'Highly Qualified', so teachers are required to attend classes in the evening and on weekends to improve their skills in these situations (no additional pay, this is required).  Each morning from the second week on teachers had to meet with parents of the Special Needs kids to review their progress and problems.

Add to this the problems of curriculum.  The students are required to pass a competency exam; the books don't follow the requirements of the exam so the teachers have to create a curriculum to match the tests.  This means every single day the teacher is standing in front of the copy machine creating worksheets for the next day.  Each teacher is required to match the same curriculum so every teacher is in line waiting their turn.  The students were issued books, but they were never opened; just put in the locker so the school could claim they had books.

I'm not a complainer, so I tried my best to make it work.  I audited the classes of other teachers (long timers), asked for help from the senior teacher on campus who came in and audited my classes.  Followed their suggestions for various ways to improve things, but it wasn't getting much better.  One day I was called to the district office and told that I needed to attend a couple of classes at a local university to upgrade my skills in handling Special Needs kids.  OK, I was fine with that, but when in the day could I make the time?  It seems the district and the school had worked together to create the classes and there was a minimal charge, 25K US dollars for the courses and materials.  I was gone the next week. 

I'm totally retired now (yes, I retired really early) and have given up any thoughts of trying to pass on whatever skills I may have to the next generation.  That chicken-sh*t job in the corporate world wasn't so bad after all.
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