Category: Teaching Math

Can you say ‘Asymptotic’?

Go on, tell me these aren’t some of the most beautiful real-world exponential graphs you’ve seen lately… I was minding my own business, watching Chris Anderson (of WIRED magazine) discuss Technology’s Long Tail in one of the TedTalks (this is one of the things I do while I do mundane tasks like building PDF files and letting Camtasia build .avi video files) … when I saw some of the most beautiful examples of exponential growth and decay in graph after graph after graph. If you’re teaching pre-calculus or calculus this semester, you’ve got to see this and use it in your classes. Personally, I’m sick of population problems and radioactive decay problems… and I bet our students are too! Apparently, Chris Anderson has written an entire book about the “long tail,” that is, the asymptotic behavior at the end-life of a certain kind of technology, when it begins to approach “FREE.” The book is called “The Long Tail” and is available in bookstores everywhere. If you want to read more of Anderson’s musings about technology and the future, his blog can be found here. Possibly Related Posts: Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Elaborations for Creative Thinking in...

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“Helicopter” Instructor

My online class is now “active” or “live” and I find myself unable to resist checking the discussion board every hour… eager to see who’s turned up since the last time I checked. Has anyone done an assignment yet? Is anyone posting on the discussion boards? How many of my students have actually logged in to Blackboard and at least peeked? Do they like the avatar? Are they finding it easy to navigate? It gives me a new appreciation for the “helicopter parents.” It’s like I’ve poured my time and soul into creating this online calc platform, and I can’t wait to see all the discussion boards populated with students and posts. So I am helicoptering around the online classrooms, eagerly awaiting the show to begin! (actually, the show has begun and several students have begun introducing themselves and doing assignments) I wonder if any of you who are teaching online math for the first time this semester are experiencing the same addiction to “checking in” on your classes? Possibly Related Posts: Video Code Easter Eggs Online Office Hours in Instructure Canvas Aligning Inline Equations Vertically in Instructure Canvas Collecting Learning Notebooks in an Online Course Escaping Blackboard and Redesigning for Instructure...

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Keeping your Online Classes Straight

If you’ve ever taught several different courses in the same classroom, you understand the problem. At some point, all the classes start to blend together until you can barely remember who is in which class or what you’ve said where. This problem seems magnified for online classes, as you do not see the faces of your students when you are “in” each class and there is, therefore, no visual cue to keep them straight. So, as I am teaching three classes with major online components this fall, how will I keep them straight? I especially want to avoid posting the wrong assignments or announcements in a class. I decided to give each class it’s own unique look, with a different banner and different buttons so that when I am navigating the three classes, it is obvious which one I am in by the color schemes. The result of my customization: Here are my three classes with their three schemes: Possibly Related Posts: Understand in learning objectives – it’s the forest, not the trees Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM The Importance of Findability for Learners Why prototype a digital course? Canvas Guides for Math and...

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Does syllabus = document in the online world?

My online calculus course just went through “evaluation” today and I was a bit worried about one of my interpretations of the evaluation checklist … a place to report on the evaluation the orientation document and the syllabus. In the online world, information is always right at your fingertips (a few keystrokes or mouse clicks away). Documents now seem (to me) outdated and inefficient. For example, if all you want to see is the grading policy, then why should you have to read through the whole syllabus to find it? So I didn’t use documents in my course design… at all. I wasn’t quite sure how this would go over to anyone else, but it made sense to me. Here’s what I did… I created a folder called “Orientation” with all the startup information in it, organized into another set of folders. The first folder under “Orientation” was a “Syllabus” folder, organized with another set of subfolders for the specific pieces of the syllabus. I will have to eventually (not this week) compile this information into a single “document” to give our Instructional Affairs office for their records (which is understandable, for now). But I think that the ability to find exactly the information that is needed… when it is needed… will be a benefit not only to the students, but to me too. BTW the evaluation turned out...

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