About Virtualization (20 August 2010)

By Adèle Mercier (Department of Philosophy)

For the last fifteen years, I have been teaching logic very successfully with the help of an interactive computer program we get for free since it was produced by one of my former professors at UCLA, the distinguished logician David Kaplan. The program by no means replaces good teaching in the classroom, but it allows students to get instant feedback on their homework, get hints to help them along, and such. The students love it, organize “together” sessions in computer lab where they help each other out, so the program has both individual and collective benefits.

Numerous other students of Kaplan’s use this program in their logic classes in several countries in the world. Just to stay in Canada, the program is currently in use at UTSC (Scarborough), at MUN, at UofT (main campus) and at UTM (Mississauga). It is now being used in Korea by a former colleague of mine at Queen’s, whom I taught to use it. The heaviest users are UCLA (about 600 students a year) and Cal State L.A. (CSULA) where they run 3 sections of logic simultaneously 3 times a year, thanks to this program.

This year, ITS refuses to install the program on the 10 to 20 computers I requested it be installed on, because “the program no longer meets ITS’ support statement”. Both ITS and the Head of my department suggested that, in light of this “difficulty” which apparently affects only Queen’s, I should revise my curriculum.

Let me ask: who is the horse, and who is the cart, here? Is this the future? Personnel of ITS determining how we teach our courses?

Adèle Mercier

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