Will iPhones and iPads Replace Dedicated Graphing Calculators in the Classroom?

Over at LockerGnome’s new YouTube channel, Questions to Answer, Gnomie Gabe asks: “Much like the Kindle is starting to make the textbook obsolete, do you think iPhones and other Android devices and iPads will replace the graphing calculator?” Brandon responds:

“While this might happen someday, it’s actually rather surprising that [something like] a TI-85 is very optimized for the types of calculations that it does. It’s actually a lot faster than doing [calculations] in emulation on one of the iPhones.

“I have an old HP reverse Polish notation graphing calculator, and it was blazing fast for plotting things — even in three dimensions. Doing the emulator on a 3 GHz pentium computer was a lot slower, and you have to think about how much power a computer has vs. how much power an iPhone has. So it’s possible we may get to a point where people are, like, ‘yes, I just bought a $200 phone instead of a $300 calculator,’ but I think we’re a ways away from it.

Will iPhones and iPads Replace Dedicated Graphing Calculators in the Classroom?“I’ve also never see the programming languages available on an iPhone or Android device that let you write the code on the device. I used to write programs on the calculator and then run them. So I think we’re a little ways away from the iPhone replacing graphing calculators; I know that’s what everybody wants, but it’s probably more likely that what we’ll see is that, because you don’t use your graphing calculator 20 hours a day, or eight hours a day, or probably more than two hours a day, we’ll probably see graphing calculator apps live up in the cloud. It would make a lot of sense that you’d have an app on the iPhone that [could] talk to a very fast computer up in the cloud and run it as more or less a Web application.”

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