I can’t speak to your experience and knowledge, I can only speak to mine.
What I hear is analogous to when I hear kids ask, “What is the point to teaching how to multiply large numbers by hand? I can do it on my phone.” Yes, it can be done easily on a phone now, but you also learn valuable things by doing the hard work of doing it by hand.
And as an educator, for years people kept trying to tell me “Don’t teach it this way, that’s old fashioned.” I head a lot of mockery of people that were skeptical. I’ve done this dance sooooo many times.
I’m not saying education techniques can’t be examined. But I also know that there are some things that have worked for centuries. Also as an educator, over the span of decades I watched as each crop of student came in, less able than the previous one to be able to perform basic 3 R tasks and less able to focus. Some educators think the solution is to dumb it down and gamify it and remove the “boring” parts. I can only speak for myself, but I learned the most from the boring parts.
To clarify, I am not advocating for ‘cute animations’ or gamification. I am advocating for a revamp of the content in these courses to focus on how mathematics is used professionally and computationally.
Right, that is an age old debate in education, going back centuries - how much focus to put on the theoretical and how much to put on the practical. I think you can have a healthy debate on where to draw that line, but I also think that you need both. I understand that the web tutorial can do a good job teaching the abstract concept of what a derivative is. It can even do a good job of visually showing how that is applied. I don’t see how that teaches a true understanding though.
Again, to get back to the multiplication argument, sure, I could write an app that shows the concept of multiplication, holds your hand through some problems, and shows you some practical applications. But do you really learn multiplication? It was pages and pages of multiplication problems that taught me how to do multiplication. True, I can do that on my apple watch now, but there was (is) still value in learning how to do it the hard, old-fashioned way.
It makes me think about things like duolingo. It is great and breaking things down into small, easy to digest chunks. And sure, it is immensely popular. But popular does not necessarily mean better. One of my complaints about a lot of these platforms is that they judge success by the number of people that sign up instead of how many actually reach a high level of proficiency.
True, an app can show you what a derivative is. It can hold your hand through calculating a few. It can show you some practical applications. But as I said before, I always found those the easiest parts. It was the hard work of being given a word problem, having to figure out how to apply what I learned and trying and failing to come up with the answer - that was the most valuable part to me. I learned far, far more from that.
Again, I haven’t done any data science so maybe that deep understanding isn’t needed. But when I hear what is being proposed compared to what is taught in the university, my eyes go wide. This is not going to be anything close to what is taught in university. Do you honestly think that any of these people would be able to finish a Calculus 101 exam after doing the tutorial? If the online curriculum were framed as “an introduction to the concepts of calculus and how they apply to DS”, that would have been different. Even accounting for puffery, some of the claims just seem bizarre to me.
Again, I still think having a higher level understanding, even if it lacks the rigor of having to drill on all those problems, has value.
Again, I think things can be improved. When I learned calculus, the first chapter was the history of calculus and how how Newton and Leibniz derived it. True, I find that stuff fascinating now, but as a high school student, it was boring and inscrutable. About of 1/4 of the class dropped in the first week because we had no idea what was going on. I’m glad I didn’t because once we started digging into limits, things started making sense. You could have removed that entire first chapter (or maybe made it an appendix, or put it later in the book) and greatly improved the course. But all that work I did? That was very instructive.