Data Sleuthing

Apr 4, 2013 by

Khan Academy Idaho is a grant-funded initiative to help K-12 teachers in Idaho integrate digital devices and the Khan Academy program into their math classrooms. Yesterday I gave a keynote there called “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” about (1) the challenges facing math educators and (2) Data Sleuthing, a way to encourage math curiosity and data literacy in students.

Resources from this presentation:

Homework from the Presentation

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WolframAlpha: Recalculating Teaching and Learning

Oct 23, 2009 by

For at least a decade, we have had the ability to let CAS software perform computational mathematics, yet computational skills are still a large portion of the mathematics curriculum. Enter Wolfram|Alpha. Unlike traditional CAS systems, Wolfram|Alpha has trialability: Anyone with Internet access can try it and there is no cost. It has high observability: Share anything you find with your peers using a hyperlink. It has low complexity: You can use natural language input and, in general, the less you ask for in the search, the more information Wolfram|Alpha tends to give you. Diffusion of innovation theories predict that these features of Wolfram|Alpha make it likely that there will be wide-spread adoption by students. What does this mean for math instructors?

This could be the time for us to reach out and embrace a tool that might allow us to jettison some of the computational knowledge from the curriculum, and give math instructors greater flexibility in supplemental topics in the classroom. Wolfram|Alpha could help our students to make connections between a variety of mathematical concepts. The curated data sets can be easily incorporated into classroom examples to bring in real-world data. On the other hand, instructors have valid concerns about appropriate use of Wolfram|Alpha. Higher-level mathematics is laid on a foundation of symbology, logic, and algebraic manipulation. How much of this “foundation” is necessary to retain quantitative savvy at the higher levels? Answering this question will require us to recalculate how we teach and learn mathematics.

There are two videos embedded in the slideshow. You should be able to click on the slide to open the videos in a anew web browser. However, if you’d just like to watch the video demos, here are direct links:

Note that I’ve turned ON commenting for these two video demonstrations and I will try to load them into YouTube later this weekend.

There are several other posts about Wolfram|Alpha that you may want to check out:

 

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Implications for Math Instructors

May 15, 2009 by

They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  Then here are about 15,000.

I’ve taken screenshots of several examples of the algebra through calculus that WolframAlpha will do.

You can see the album of screenshots here.

I’ll let you see the implications for yourself.

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New Math: A Formula for Everything

Mar 30, 2009 by

I think that I will have to start (or end?) every class session next fall with one of these fabulous formulas from New Math.

newmath

Some of them are obvious (once you see them) and some of them just have me laughing out loud because of the simplistic way Craig Damrauer can depict such a complex subject. A few of my favorites:

crazy

maturity

compassion

Inspired by these great formulas, I think we should have a contest to see who can come up with the best “new math formula” for math words like Calculus, Algebra, Statistics, etc.

Take your best stab at your favorite math word, and then link here.

Here’s my contribution, and then I’m back to work on my dissertation (where all my creative energy is flowing these days).

math-anxiety

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Google Search Data vs Real CDC Data: Guess who wins?

Dec 2, 2008 by

Google has been using search data to model flu outbreaks for a number of years. Generally, they look at the number of searches for words related to “flu” (graphs) and look for sharp increases in the number of searches (slopes, derivatives). You can watch a short and elegant video showing

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