Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another slight reason for stress...... datalogging

Bloody datalogging.

I hate bloody datalogging.
I hate LogIT.
Yet wherever I go, I'm followed by it.

A quick recap and explanation for those of you lucky enough to not have a clue what the hell I'm talking about. Datalogging is essentially this:

In computerized data logging, a computer program may automatically record events in a certain scope in order to provide an audit trail that can be used to diagnose problems. Examples of physical systems which have logging subsystems include process control systems, and the black box recorders installed in aircraft.

But in education, what they tend to be, is crap boxes that attach to computers and have crap temperature probes, pH probes, light probes, motion sensors and other stupid, pointless, over complex and generally redundant things that stay in their overly expensive boxes and come out for open evenings and when the new teachers want to try to impress.

Invariably what would happen is we'd get the Loggers out. Plug in the sensors. Which wouldn't work properly. Unplug them, plug them in again, unplug and repeat until it either worked or you gave up.
Then the children would run their experiments.
Then the loggers and/or the sensors would go wrong and we'd invariably have to reset them and if we had time we'd do the experiment again.

In fact, the only time we've used logging as anything other than a teacher demo was for a chemistry practical. It took 3 hours to set it up. 2 hours to take it all apart and the actual experiment took 40 minutes and even then, after meticulously making sure every unit was working and doing exactly what it was meant to, only 3 out of 6 gave us any meaningful results.

So what usually happened was that the teacher would try and do them as a demo. Invariably this wouldn't work either.

In the end I always tried to subtly suggest that it would be nice for the kids to maybe see the loggers and the sensors and then be told what they could do. But try to avoid turning the damn things on.

First at Lordswood, where I started as a science technician, we had the earliest version of LogIT. I remember getting into an argument over the phone with the makers of the thing trying to explain why their solution to why it wasn't working properly with their sensors and the recommended spec of pc was totally ridiculous. They wanted me to open the box up and solder extra bits on to make it work. No, no, no, no, no.
Eventually, with gentle nudging first and later plain truth on my part that I found datalogging to be a pointless waste of time, we didn't do too much of it.

Then at Smiths Wood, my second science technician job and the one where I did a lot of ICT we has 10 loggers. 8 of which are still in their original boxes, in mint condition and unused.
Quite frankly there's not a lot of point showing a group of kids who can't use a thermometer as anything other than an offensive weapon how to take temperature using a digital thermometer.

But guess what I've been doing today?
Bloody LogIT. Bloody datalogging.
Bugger. Bloody. Bastard.

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