I’m at the console in front of the class where I can monitor what each student is doing on his or her mac. It’s intermittently sad, though perhaps not a sad as at other times.

One student has Excel open to create a column of figures that grow at a 5% rate. Here’s his algorithm:

- type the starting value in cell A1
- when cell An has been filled
- — go to an online calculator
- — enter the value from cell An (all dozen or so digits)
- — multiply by 0.05
- — add the value from cell An
- — type the answer (not even copy paste) into cell A(n+1)

I don’t even want to think about this.

This same student tried first to solve this problem by looking in the text (he actually found the problem), then in the instructor’s manual (where he hoped to find a solution). I hoped that he might actually be lurking on this blog during the exam, would see my comments, know I was talking about him, and mend his ways. But no. He left the exam early. I hope he passes the course. He’s one of the cleverest students in the class and has refused to learn anything new all semester… that’s sad.

Another student was asking Yahoo how to solve exponential equations.

It’s as if they trust the internet (or go to it) rather than trusting their own intelligence – or even trying to remember what was taught in the course. Of course that might be the best solution in the ten year time frame I want to think about …

I’ve said here that it’s not as sad as at other times because a much smaller than usual percentage of the class is trying to answer the questions this way.

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