Friday, November 25, 2011

Mathematics and Violence

Here's a cartoon from xkcd.  Of course, proof by intimidation is more of a humanities technique.
I am always amazed by how violent some mathematicians can be.  I had one algebra professor who talked about "killing off" terms in a polynomial.  What did they ever do to him?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Video: Using Rates

I've produced a new video.  Justin Dean outdid himself on the editing.  I used rates to find the cheapest laundry detergent.  The surprise is that the cheapest per ounce is not the cheapest per load.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Video: Simplifying Ratios and Rates

As a follow-up to my video Introduction to Ratios, I've produced a second on simplifying ratios and rates.  This video uses the new template for the algebra videos out of MCTC.  Justin Dean worked hard to adjust my original PowerPoint to the new template.  I think the result is clean and readable.

The additional narration is by Cari Hillyard, who is our math lab assistant.  She has been a big help to us on campus.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I caught this video on IO9 this evening.  It's funny despite some foul language and violence.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Busy Day at KADE

The Kentucky Association for Developmental Education (KADE) had its state conference in at Maysville Community and Technical College yesterday and today.  MCTC where I teach, so I had a good chance to help out today.

The first session I went to was the Plenary Panel on the common core standards in Kentucky.  Kentucky was the first state to adopt the common core standards.  Apparently part of that decision was to help coordinate between colleges and high schools on the meaning of college readiness.  There was quite a bit of good information there.  One suggested site was, which has lots of free materials.

The second session was on Prezi by Paul Ellis of Northern Kentucky University.  The presentation was well done, but I still don't see the advantages of Prezi over programs like PowerPoint.  In fact, the first few Prezis I saw looked like very well animated PowerPoint presentations.

The third session I attended was about MyMathLab.  The presenter was, to my surprise, me.  I had asked for more of a role helping the organizers with the conference.  When Pearson needed someone to fill in on MyMathLab, my name was volunteered.  The problem is that I didn't find this out until Wednesday.  I didn't have much guidance about what was expected, so I put together a short PowerPoint presentation on how we have used MyMathLab at MCTC.  You can see the slides here (in Google Docs format.)

I gave my presentation, the end of which mentioned our course redesign, and the audience spent the remaining time discussing redesign.  We had a session later this afternoon on redesign, and I didn't want to give away too much.

After lunch, I skipped the awards presentation and rested in the math lab.  I was in the lab all day for presentations that I was watching, giving, and moderating.

After the break, I gave the presentation that I had signed up for earlier.  I copresented with two of my collegues: Paulette Sauer, a non tenure-track faculty member; and Cari Hillyard, our math lab coordinator.  We gave an overview of the redesign of the developmental algebra sequence (Prealgebra, Basic Algebra, Intermediate Algebra) from the view of students and instructors.  Cari covered the students' point of view and Paulette covered the instructors' point of view.  I covered the gritty details.  The PowerPoint for the presentation is here (in Google Docs format.)

We had a video of interviews conducted by Cari.  I'd share it on YouTube, but I doubt the Photo Release Form signed by students would extend to my YouTube account.  Before showing the video, I gave the disclaimer that there was a large amount of selection bias in the choice of interview subjects.  We interviewed the students who were working in the lab, and it is no surprise that they are the students who are doing well.

After our talk, I got to moderate a session on course redesign and video production by Jamie Foster and Eric Deaton of Somerset Community College.  They talked about integrating the videos they create into their emporium model courses.  They gave me a few ideas about making movies on entering answers into MyMathLab.

I'm glad that I got to work at this conference.  The rest of my colleagues are in Austin for AMATYC.  I think they missed out.