Category: Teaching Math

Video/Audio Test

We’ve made this interesting discovery this week about students viewing videos. It seems that a lot of them hope to muddle through an online course never actually watching any of the materials and just “bluffing” that they are. How did I discover this? A couple students mentioned that they had not been able to view the video lessons that I’d posted, so curious as to whether this was an isolated incident or a more serious trend, I posted a 1-minute “test” video with two secret codes (one spoken, one written on the screen). If the student could both hear and see the code, they could send a message to me for a couple participation points. Mind you, we are now at the 3-week point in the semester, having now taken our first test. All of a sudden, now that points are attached to actually proving that they had properly configured their computer to watch videos, the non-watchers came out of the woodwork to fess up to not being able to a) see, or b) hear the lessons. I wonder how many of them are spending insane amounts of time doing homework when they could just watch the lesson first and cut down on their homework time. So… here’s to one lesson learned. The video/audio test will be the first assignment every semester from now on. I’m producing my videos...

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Fixing the “MathType Requires a Newer Version of MT Extra Font” error…

If you are a MathType user, chances are you’ve run across this error after some automatic “update” of your system (Windows updates always do it to me). In the past I have always just reinstalled MathType and that fixes it, but that requries finding my copy of MathType and the registration code… I always thought to myself… there’s got to be an easier way! So, while on a break from working this morning (Sunday) at 5am, I thought… this is the morning to find the real solution to this problem! Here it is: Find your Fonts Control Panel (for...

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A Chapter’s worth of homework…

If you’re like me, you’ve had a few thoughts that go like this… students will only learn if they do their homework, students will only do their homework if it’s graded, I can’t possibly grade enough homework to make them do it on a regular basis. If you haven’t tried it, you’ve got to try online homework. Many of the products these days have algorithmically-generated problems that directly correspond to problems in the book. This means that a) all the students get different numbers, but the same type of problem, b) they use the same verbage as your text. In the first week of class, I estimate that my students (75 students in four classes) did approximately 2400 graded problems. No kidding. They received instant feedback on the problems, they had the opportunity to try the problem again if it was incorrect (they get 5 tries… my setting), and most worked at each problem until they did get it right. Students can post questions and answer others’ questions on the message boards, but cannot just ask for an answer (since they all have different numbers). Even if you collect and grade every problem that you assign, you surely see homework papers where students just abandon problems that they know are unfinished or incorrect. I call this “must get full points” characteristic of our online homework students, the “video-game mentality.”...

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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: Contemporary Algebra Collection (new resources 2/4/2019) Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast about ESIL Lens Add Graphs In The World to Courses Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College...

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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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