Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Watt's Thoughts - Disappearing Tape

The textbook I use to teach college-level Visual Basic has  a problem for students  that's created a separate problem unto itself. It asks the student to write a program with the results appearing as they would on adding machine tape. I ran into this issue several quarters ago -- some of my younger students had no idea what an adding machine was.

So now when we come to the problem I explain that an adding machine is like a calculator. Adding machine tape, I say, is much like the tape used on some calculators or cash registers.

The other day I was correcting a student who didn't seem to get it.  He had just added a line of equal signs between his input boxes and result box but didn't have the input numbers appear in the result box on separate line and a separator line and the result.  Turns out he had a more fundamental question about the problem. "What is a tape?" he asked.

Shows how technology is changing.  It seemed the cash register analogy wasn't working anymore. Someone suggested it was like the tape you get from the gas pump or an ATM. I wonder how long those examples will hold true!

- Dwight Watt
from "Watt's Thoughts," available at dwight-watt.home.att.net

Day 64 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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