Just a collection of things I learned about at the 2014 Joint Math Meetings:
- There’s an organization called ITHAKA that is working on helping academics use digital technologies. It’s the folks behind JSTOR, the online journal storage organization. These are non-profit groups. On my first visit to ITHAKA’s webpage I found the link to William Bowen’s Stafford Little Lecture (the link is directly to the pdf) about MOOCs and math/ed/tech issues. The lecture makes a lot of good points and is worth a read. I feel I could have written parts of it myself were I someone who used bigger words regularly.
- A number of sessions about flipping the classroom, using smart pens, and using other technologies in college teaching were filled to the brim. There are tons of instructors out there making use of these technologies without necessarily having a ton of institutional support or technical support. The hybrid classroom is already here. Mathematicians on their own, conducting n=1 class experiments, cannot evaluate the average effectiveness of such approaches. However, they’re actively trying to make their own individual classes the best they can be.
- On the elementary math ed front, Reasoning Mind had a reception that I didn’t make it to. (I did a lot of research talk on this trip — the special session on Geometric Applications of Algebraic Combinatorics was fabulous!! But that means I missed some receptions!) It’s a hybrid curriculum that aims to have students work through computer-organized math problems with in-person teacher coaching as needed. I’d like to try it out. It seems a bit controversial, as some initial data in Dallas reported it didn’t work as promised and there may be some politics going on; on the other hand, the curriculum was unevenly implemented and some students didn’t really use it, so it’s hard to tell where achievement gains and losses came from.