Tag Archives: online education

The Triangleman Decimal Institute [TDI]

In recent weeks, I have written several times about decimals and their treatment in curriculum. In discussions surrounding that writing, it has become clear to me that everyone involved in children’s learning of decimals can both learn and contribute to the learning of others.


Which is why I am excited to announce…

The Triangleman Decimal Institute

For seven weeks, starting Monday, September 30, I will invite all interested parties to an online conversation about decimals and learning decimals.

Each Monday, I’ll have a new post here to launch and focus our discussions. Comments will be closed in order to move the discussions to more productive venues (see below).

You may participate in any way that you like, including the following:

  1. Self study. Read at your leisure. Discuss with yourself, your colleagues, your spouse and/or your Australian Labradoodle.
  2. Twitter. I invite you to use the #decimalchat hashtag to respond, argue, offer evidence and discuss.
  3. Canvas. It is no secret that I love this LMS. I have established a course in Canvas. The course is public, free and you may self-enroll. We will mainly use the discussion forums there, which function MUCH better than WordPress comments for our purposes. I will establish a new discussion forum there for each week’s post, but students (i.e. you) can also create discussions.

You may come and go as you please.

My promise to you is to keep myself on the schedule in the syllabus below and to engage to the extent possible in the discussions on Twitter and Canvas.


Come join us for some or all of the following.

Week 1 (Sept. 30): Decimals before fractions?

Week 2 (Oct. 7): Money and decimals.

Week 3 (Oct. 14): Children’s experiences with partitioning.

Week 4 (Oct. 21): Interlude on the slicing of pizzas.

Week 5 (Oct. 28): Grouping is different from partitioning.

Week 6 (Nov. 4): Decimals and curriculum (Common Core).

Week 7 (Nov. 14): Summary and wrap up.

There will be no grades, tests or tuition. Just the love of knowledge and the collective passion of teachers wanting to do their best.

See you in class on Monday!

Note from Canvas:

This course has enabled open enrollment. Students can self-enroll in the course once you share with them this URL:  https://canvas.instructure.com/enroll/MY4YM3. Alternatively, they can sign up at https://canvas.instructure.com/register  and use the following join code: MY4YM3

Reflections on online teaching

Imagine a person teaching an online course. Imagine further that the students in this course are tremendously thoughtful and responding with impressive depth and seriousness to the set of tasks in the course.

Imagine further that the instructor in this course had some thoughts to share with the students that included insights he/she has gained from the interactions, and that these insights include both mathematical insights and pedagogical ones (having to do with the pedagogy of the course itself).

What would be the best format for this person to share these insights? Hypothetically speaking?

It occurs to me that in such a situation, some constraints might include wanting to honor and welcome discussion of these insights (including critique), while not wanting to be overbearing. And that they might include wanting to highlight these thoughts without obstructing the narrative flow of the pre-established tasks.

Your thoughts?

What are we counting in online education?

There has been lots of talk of a higher ed. bubble lately.

I’m not sure whether I should worry about this, what exactly it means and whether what Audrey Watters wrote about Harvard on Hack Education pertains to me and my students at a community college.

Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says.

After all, maybe no one spends a quarter million dollars to read Chaucer but it’s probably more reasonable to spend $700 to learn some algebra.

Cost of four credits of College Algebra at my college. Note the non-resident tuition.

Various people would claim that online education has played a part in the bubble that may (or may not) exist. I’m agnostic on the issue-mostly due to being ill-informed. I have tried to imagine how my courses would transition to an online environment. I have massively increased my use of online course management systems to increase student engagement. But I haven’t taught online.

Nonetheless, I try to keep up to date.

My understanding of a bubble is that it tends to occur when people become more concerned with the perceived monetary value of a thing, and begin to ignore the actual value (or other qualities) of thing.

From our side of the business of higher ed, the things with value are students.

Every semester my college sends around enrollment figures. This turns out to be fairly tricky to measure at the community college level, as we have many, many students who take one or two classes at a time. So I am accustomed to the difference between HC (head count) and FTE (full-time equivalent).

Until today I had not noticed that we don’t do HC for online courses. Instead we do, well…

Seats sold?!? Remember that bit about the monetary value of a thing?