Theory of Knowledge, Area of Knowledge – Mathematics: Are calculators killing our ability to work it out in our head?

Since the 1980s we have had access to calculators of various types. Today, we can include computers and smartphones which are attached to our hip 24/7. So does this ubiquitous access to calculators affect our ability to do maths in our heads like we used to? Thirty years ago calculators promised immense opportunity – opportunity, alas, that brought considerable controversy. The sceptics predicted students would not be able to compute even simple calculations mentally or on paper. Multiplication, basic facts, knowledge would disappear. Calculators would become a crutch. The controversy has not dissipated over time. As recently as 2012, the UK government announced it intended to ban calculators from primary classrooms on the grounds that students used them too much and too soon. Research conducted in response to this found little difference in performance tests whether students used calculators or not. An earlier US study had found the same: the calculator had no positive or negative effects on the attainment of basic maths skills. Researchers recommended moving the conversation on. What types of tasks and activities suit calculators? How can calculators complement and reinforce mental and written methods of arithmetic in maths? Does the ubiquitous access to calculators affect our ability to do maths in our heads like we used to? Read the entiree article here!


Theory of Knowledge for the 2014-2015 School year…

Well, the new school year is upon us, and with it the challenges of TOK for this year. The course for grade 12 students was scheduled outside the regular school day, so it is a challenge to find time in the morning or after school for the students to come in. As well, this year’s group will be the first using the new curriculum and new I.B. TOK assessment rubrics on their internal and external grades. Below are pictures of this year’s class doing our annual “mask” activity for our study on the Arts!

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Aye, robot

A new study from the U of M’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab suggests that you’ll obey robots as predictably as you would a human.The team designed the experiment to get participants to do dull tasks: take 80 minutes to rename hundreds of files extensions, changing “jpg” to “png”, as well as sing in different pitches, and repeatedly click on an icon. The task master was either a 27-year-old human male, or Jim, the pseudonym of a Nao pronounced “now” humanoid robot.As the paper reads:The robot experimenter sat upright on a desk, spoke using a neutral tone, gazed around the room naturally to increase sense of intelligence, and used emphatic hand gestures when prodding, all controlled from an adjacent room via a Wizard of Oz setup. The “wizard” used both predefined and on-the-fly responses and motions to interact with the participant; the responses were less varied than the human experimenter’s as we believed this would be expected of a robot. Participants were warned that the robot required “thinking time” to give the wizard reaction time and indicated this with a blinking chest light.To reduce suspicion about the reason for having a robot and to reinforce its intelligence we explained that we were helping the engineering department test their new robot that is “highly advanced in artificial intelligence and speech recognition.” We explained that we are testing the quality of its “situational artificial intelligence.”The goal, however, was to see whether the participants saw the human or the robot as more of an authority figure. Here’s an video abstract of the study that explains it further:

read more at: Aye, robot | UM Today – Your Source for University of Manitoba News.