Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport

In November, I gave the keynote at the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) Conference in Denver.

I have given versions of this talk that are not specific for mathematics, but I don’t have recordings of those. I promise that the math in this talk is not inaccessible and is used more for examples than a framework for the talk. In other words, don’t let the word “math” scare you away. The alternate version of the talk is “Learning is Not a Spectator Sport.”

Three triangles surrounding a central triangle with the letters C, I, and D
The first half of the video is the awards ceremony, so I’ve directed the embed link below to begin when the keynote actually begins at 45:48 (direct link to video on YouTube beginning at the keynote is here).


The talk emphasizes the importance of interaction, and as such, this talk has a lot of audience interaction in it near the beginning, so you may want to jump through some of that interaction as you watch (between 51:30 and 1:02:00).

 

Possibly Related Posts:


AMATYC Keynote Notes: Challenge and Curiosity

In the 2016 AMATYC keynote, I covered three main themes:

  1. Interaction & Impasse (last post)
  2. Challenge & Curiosity (this post)
  3. Durable Learning

Here are references and resources for Challenge & Curiosity:

First, I have to point you to one of my favorite books on the subject, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, by Raph Koster.

Quote from Game Design: “How do I get somebody to learn something that is long and difficult and takes a lot of commitment, but get them to learn it well?” – James Gee

How do players learn a game? 

  • They give it a try
  • They push at boundaries
  • They try over and over
  • They seek patterns

It looks something like this:

Shows web of many nodes and branches coming off a person, with bridges between branches and potential paths to expand knowledge.

How does a player learn a game?

How do we teach students?

  • We tell them what we’re going to tell them.
  • We tell them.
  • We tell them what we told them.
  • We have them practice repetitively.

It looks something like this:

Very few linear paths branching out from the person at the center. Few nodes and few places to expand on knowledge.

How do we teach students?

Reference: Productive Failure in Mathematical Problem Solving

There’s a much wider body of research on productive failure worth reading.

Video: Playing to Learn Math

Resource: Good Questions from Cornell

Resource: Classroom Voting Questions from Carroll College

Design more activities that let the student figure out the mathematical puzzle, instead of providing all the secrets yourself.

Shows the graph of a rational function with vertical asymptote at x=5 and horizontal asymptote at y=2.

Explain the differences in the graphs: The student is given five rational functions to graph, each function looks only slightly different mathematically but produces very different results.

Possibly Related Posts:


Full version of Algeboats is out!

In case you’ve been waiting, the full version of Algeboats is out in the iPad store for $4.99.

You can see some of the gameplay for the Lite version of Algeboats on Youtube.

The game is designed to teach students about what algebraic variables mean and to begin to understand equations. It’s clever because the students don’t see equations to solve, but in the process of finding crate values that “make” the flags, they begin working backwards and thus solving the equations created by boat=flag. I’ve seen learners as young as 5 be absolutely delighted by the game (and the fact that they are doing algebra). Parents, of course, will be delighted as well.

Possibly Related Posts:


NPS and Gamification

Last weekend I visited Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument for a 3-day digital detox. [Yes, believe it or not, I can put away the Interwebs for 3 whole days.]

While hiking in Bryce Canyon, I stumbled across a bit of gamification of the hiking trails called Hike the Hoodoos Challenge.

With all the hype about digital badges and gamification lately, I can’t help but wonder why the NPS doesn’t take this a step further and develop a digital mobile game where you can earn activity badges in all the National Parks and Monuments by hiking the trails. It seems that you could just as easily use QR codes on the signage to “check in” to various trailheads via a mobile app. Better yet, let state parks get in on the action.

Maybe you’d rather just see the pictures though … here’s Bryce Canyon and our hike to the Queen’s Garden.

And here’s Cedar Breaks National Monument (we took the 2-mile hike to Spectra Point/Ramparts Overlook Trail)

Of course, if the NPS did create a mobile app game for hiking (Hiking the National Parks with Zombies?), then I suppose I would have to carry my phone with me, huh? Here I am, sans Internet-enabled digital devices.

Possibly Related Posts:


Board Games that Change Attitudes

Two weeks ago I attended the APF ProDev Gathering in Orlando on the future of Games and Simulations. A great time was had by all, and we had an enlightening time thinking about what games and simulations would be used for 10-15 years from now. Several games I learned about are worthy of mention here:

Buffalo (by tiltfactor) is a game that has been shown to change your attitude about stereotyping careers based on gender and ethnicity. You wouldn’t really know that from playing it, but players walk away being more aware of how much they know (or didn’t know) about women and minorities holding non-traditional positions (CEOs, programmers, scientists, etc.).

Cards Against Humanity is really an “Apples to Apples” style game that should only be played by adults (and possibly only by adults that are consuming alcoholic beverages). This is a game that is interesting in many ways – one is that the game was originally a kickstarter, and the designers have made a small fortune on the game.  But secondarily, I’m pretty sure that playing this game lowers your moral standards (so yes, it changes your attitudes). I don’t have any research to back that up, but trust me on this one. Don’t play this game with your parents.

Pox: Save the People (and, of course, ZombiePox) is about stopping the spread of a deadly disease. You can choose to vaccinate against the disease or cure the disease. Curing takes more resources than vaccination.

One more game that I think is worthy of mention (though it is one I’ve known about for a while) is Train, by Brenda Brathwaite. This is a game that explores the “devastation and tragedy of the Holocaust.” Read more in the WSJ article: Can you Make a Board Game about the Holocaust?

Possibly Related Posts: