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Calculators that teachers can monitor

Wireless information sent in real time

Texas Instruments

It's taken decades, but it all makes sense now.

When we were kids, TI calculators seemed as common as No. 2 pencils, but they were used basically as extensions of multiplication tables and other rote learning. Now, Texas Instruments claims to have finally made the leap into the interactive future with the "TI-Navigator."

This handheld device lets students send their work instantly and wirelessly to teachers' computers in the classroom. Not only can instructors review answers in real time, but they can also analyze student thought processes as they observe the keys being punched to "understand who's not getting it," TI chief executive Rich Templeton said at a Reuters technology conference this week.

The Big Brother aspect of these systems may not be appreciated by privacy-minded types. But given the way public education has performed (or hasn't, to be more accurate), we think most parents will find it a fair tradeoff.