Friday, November 12, 2010

AMATYC Boston Day 2

It's been a good day today in Boston.  I had a good talk with Gary Rockswold and Terry Krieger and a productive committee meeting with the ITLC.

Sessions for the Day
I started the day with the Innovative Teaching and Learning Techniques Themed Session.  I sat in the following fifteen minute talks.
  1. Promote Active Learning Using Real-World Applications - Frank C. Wilson
    This talk is along the same interests of mine.  The activity was about the dice game Pig and computing associated probabilities.  I think this is a good project, but I don't know if I would consider it "real world".
  2. Digital Learning Projects - Maria Andersen
    There was a lot of information to process.  She had good ideas about students using social media to reflect on and share about their learning.  She also had a good idea about using data visualization.  I am going to look into doing these projects in college algebra and calculus.
  3. Symbolic Processors: Wave of the Future? - Fred Felton
    This talk was about using Wolfram Alpha in the classroom.  I learned later that I misinterpreted Fred's use of this program in his classes.  I am worried about this program because it does all of the work for a student in solving a problem.  I don't want student to believe that technology can replace thinking, and Wolfram Alpha is close to being able to make the replacement.  In addition, I really, really don't like Stephen Wolfram's views on science and mathematics.  I tried to read A New Kind of Science, but could only get through 21 of the 1300 pages before getting too angry to read.
  4. Beyond Tables - Introductory Statistics - Dianna Cichocki
    This was a good talk about using JAVA applets to replace tables of probabilities for normal distributions.  She asked during the talk if we still use tables of trigonometric values in class.  I raised my hand because I still show how to use them in my trigonometry class.  I want students to be aware that there are ways of doing things that don't involve batteries and plugs.  I would never require students to use trig tables instead of calculators.  Dianna is making effective use of the applets in her classroom.
Lunch With Gary Rockswold and Terry Krieger
Pearson, the textbook publisher, arranged a lunch with a few instructors with the authors Gary Rockswold and Terry Krieger.  I thank them for the lunch.
I was fascinated to get the views of the authors and the publisher reps.  We have been discussing pseudocontext on my blog and at dy/dan.  I tried to bring it up with the authors, but I couldn't make myself clearly understood.  I didn't press because I didn't want to be a jerk.

Both the authors, and Gary's daughter Jessica are nice people.  I feel bad for using one of their examples on the dy/dan blog.
 
Dana's Talk
I went to the talk of one of my coworkers.  It was on grant writing.  I went to show support for Dana.  I don't have much interest in the topic right now.
ITLC Meeting
The Innovative Teaching and Learning Committee had its meeting in the afternoon.  It was a good meeting.  Most of the committee is in favor of proctored exams for online classes.  I was under the impression that the opposite was true.  Proctored tests are very important to me.  The committee is looking into a position paper on online educational resources (OER), with which I have volunteered to help.

Aftermath
I'm much more alert tonight than I was last night.  I am planning on going for a walk around the hotel and the nearby shops to burn off some energy and calories before bed.  I went through Barnes & Noble too quickly last night.