Tag Archives: Technology

It’s not just me (Smart Boards)

I’ve been catching up on some podcast listening. Here’s Audrey Watters talking to Steve Hargadon on their weekly podcast back on January 29:

…I think there are lots of systems in play that don’t actually want…I mean the folks who sell you interactive whiteboards don’t really want the content to be accessible elsewhere because then why the hell would you buy an interactive whiteboard?

And here was me recently on the relationship between software and interactive whiteboard hardware:

…here’s something strange about Smart Boards. [The ability to capture student work is] not a feature of the board; it’s a feature of the software. But Smart fancies itself a hardware producer, so it hasn’t designed the software to do much of anything without the board.

If we were designing the ideal piece of software to do what you’re suggesting, I’m not at all convinced that it would require a Smart Board to run on, and I doubt that it would look very much like Smart Notebook at all.

I taught myself to use a Smart Board. I have presented professional development sessions around Smart Boards. I have used Smart Boards in my classes-including College Algebra and math content courses for future elementary teachers.

I’ll say it directly. An interactive whiteboard is a crummy tool, massively overpriced. The software has been designed to sell the hardware, rather than as an excellent interface that stands on its own.

In short, Smart Boards suck.

There is a small amount of meaningful additional functionality that an interactive whiteboard brings to the domain of classroom presentation media. In math, this has mostly to do with manipulating visual images-moving this rectangle onto that one to compare their areas and the like.

Here’s a crummy video of the one lesson I really do want a Smart Board for. It’s from Connected Mathematics: Bits and Pieces II.

Smart Boards excepted, right?

From EdTechResearcher by way of Audrey Watters at Hack Education:

In general, our findings cohere with 30 years of educational technology research. There are a handful of teachers who make remarkable use of new technologies, but for the most part, when teachers adopt new technologies, they use them to extend existing practices rather than to develop innovative practices.

As a dear colleague of mine once noted in a Smart Board session, “It’s just like the chalkboard; it’s the teacher’s worksheet.”

What I learned on Twitter yesterday

Yesterday’s Google doodle got science people fired up.

I got the periodic/wave/Hertz thing. But I tried to see “Google” in it and failed. So I tuned out, feeling annoyed.

Then Frank Noschese, high school physics (etc.) teacher and all around smart person stepped in:

Conversation ensued. Basically, Chris Lusto (high school math teacher and all around smart person) and Frank went back and forth on what exactly constitutes a sinusoidal curve. 

On Twitter.

Now I was interested. Lusto’s question prompted me to respond:

And then this question got inside my head. Is it still sinusoidal if it’s composed of an infinite series of sinusoids?

I didn’t care even a little bit what the formal definition would be. I was struggling with the spirit of things. Does it make sense to call this thing sinusoidal?

And then walking to the parking lot at 9:00 at night, it struck me.

On Twitter.

Here’s a nice piece of software…

It’s TI week here at OMT.

TI SmartView is a lovely piece of software… (see embedded video):

If I am teaching Advanced Mathematical Button Pushing, I am going to need this software. But honestly, that’s about it. It costs more than the calculator it is emulating and requires a fully functioning computer to run on.

It cripples the teacher with the same crummy graphics (94 pixels, horizontally) that students have in their hands. And it records every single button push. All of them, down to the last 5 up arrows.

You know how annoying it is when you get directions from Google Maps and the first five turns tell you how to get out of your own neighborhood? Same deal here. There is truly no intelligence built in.

Oh, and licensing? Crazy restrictive. My institution pays per license, and it’s not the “running on x computers at a time” sort of license. It’s the “installed on x computers at a time” sort of license.

Does anybody at TI check the math?

I get that the images below are not real classrooms. These are combinations of staged and stock photos. I get that. But seriously, a waterfall with a straight-line cross-section? And just what answer do we expect to the “shade 1/6 of the hexagon” task? Is the resolution on that screen good enough to detect the difference between 1/4 and 1/6? And how will the teacher tell that difference at a glance? Do YOU know which of those responses is correct?

Note the right triangle on the NSpire screen. And the "Real-world" connection: "Diagonal distance of a waterfall".

We're filling from the bottom up. If height of hexagon is 1 unit, what fraction SHOULD we fill to? And how exactly do these images help me assess whether students can find it?

If I see one more f’ing Smart board disabling a chalkboard…

…I’m gonna ‘splode. Ladies and gentlemen, an interactive whiteboard is a supplemental technology, not a replacement technology.

From today's New York Times

From a post a year ago

 

Mathematical storytelling

I tend to tell stories when I teach. Most of the time, they are relevant to the topic at hand. As a seventh-grade teacher, I specialized in telling a story that ended with a mathematical twist, and I was particularly pleased with myself when students:

  1. didn’t see see it coming, and
  2. wanted to argue with each other right away about how the story was going to end

Ask my college students and they would likely recognize that aspect of my teaching, although I tone it down a bit for adults.

In the past six months, I have found a wealth of examples of amazing storytellers in mathematics. I met Dan Meyer and Karim Ani. Each of them uses the language of acts for describing lessons (although they don’t quite agree with each other on the meaning). And I (along with several hundred thousand others) discovered Vi Hart. Fabulous, smart mathematical storytellers; each and every one.

Out of this rich stew of stories comes the following. It’s the first of several I’ve got brewing. Help me make them better, will you?

UPDATE: In response to initial feedback in the comments, I revised the original video and posted it above. Two changes: (1) Sloppy audio levels were fixed (this is embarrassingly easy to do in iMovie), and (2) The video ends with the two pricetags sharing screen space-for easy reference. I’m unsure whether the second change is an improvement. See comments below.