x
Stuck On Learning
 "The best Algebra tutorial program I have seen... in a class by itself."Macworld

have to solve in life. Super. The answer is 2n so
I choose n/2 to see what happens. The software
says "Incorrect" in red, does not offer the
correct answer, and simply encourages me to go
on to the next slide. Very helpful. I hit Next.

Eventually we get to play with two helicopters to
solve x/2 - 3 = 1. I found myself wondering
where the two expressions came from and what
a helicopter would be doing hovering at x/2 - 3,
but I was always a troublemaker in school.
Nowhere does the software talk about needing
to keep the two helicoptesr at the same altitude,
let alone why we have to. Me, I like see-saws
which are level when the two sides are the
same, just as we want to preserve an equation's
truth as we transform it. Anyway...

Clicking +3 on the first guy moves it up but
leaves the expression as x/2 - 3. It should have
changed to x/2, the way the other guy changed
from 1 to 4 when I clicked +3. Clicking x2
(meaning multiply, not the variable x)  finally
changes the first guy to x. The other guy
continues to work and becomes 8.

Now the material simply goes wrong, saying we
have to add before we multiply. No, that just
makes it easier. And it gets worse: the text says
that if we multiply by 2 first we will end up with
the wrong answer, x=5. Nonsense, as the
graphic shows: we end up with x - 3 = 5, what it
calls "an incomplete solution". Thought one: well
then it is not a solution! Add 3 to both sides!!
And how on Earth did we get to x-3=5? By
going x/2-3=1 to 2(x/2-3)=2*1 to x-6=2 to
x-6+3=2+3. Right, they accepted as inevitable
the two operations of adding at most 3 and
multiplying by at most 3, with nothing else
permitted. Hunh?

Just this little bit of material is wrong in one
place, inconsistent with itself, confusing,
unmotivating, and plain leaves out the
fundamental concept of preserving the truth of
the equation as necessary. On-line and
interactive is only as good as the underlying
fundamental material, and in that regard
Monterey comes up short.
 A blow-by-blow replay of a disappointingon-line Algebra experience atthe Monterey Institute.