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MathRecap is a project in modernizing and increasing access to math education conferences. I and my fellow recappers concluded our coverage of CMC-North last week. How did we do?

On the one hand, our most trafficked recap, Lisa Nussdorfer's iPad session, received 538 unique pageviews, which means many more people had access to her talk than just the thirty of us in the classroom where she was scheduled. That's great.

On the other hand, traffic wasn't so explosive that I'm convinced this kind of site is as useful as it can be. So I'm inviting your commentary: What would make a conference recapping site most useful for you? If it isn't something you find useful, why not?

NCTM is in four months. That's a pricey ticket and many of you aren't attending. So what can a site like MathRecap do for you?

Featured Comments

David Wees is the first to say that MathRecap wasn't well publicized:

This is the first I’ve heard of the site, so I missed the announcement somehow, so maybe people just don’t know about it? I’ve added it to my feed though, and included it in my list of mathematics education blogs.

Jason Dyer:

I had no idea how what was being discussed translated into classroom practice, what “culturally relevant pedagogy” looks like past one ambiguously phrased word problem, and how the standards of mathematical practice are linked.

Michael Pershan:

Blog posts are good. Presentations are good. But what is each format particularly suited to do? In particular, what gets lost when you try to translate a presentation to a blog post?

29 Responses to “[Help Wanted] Can I Get Your Feedback On MathRecap.com”

  1. on 19 Dec 2012 at 10:21 amDavid Wees

    I think that such a site is a useful resource, particularly considering how cash strapped some school districts are, and usage of the site will grow over time.

    This is the first I’ve heard of the site, so I missed the announcement somehow, so maybe people just don’t know about it? I’ve added it to my feed though, and included it in my list of mathematics education blogs.

  2. on 19 Dec 2012 at 11:36 amAngela F.

    I agree with David Wees. I think a website like that would be a great resource, especially for those of us who can’t make it to these conferences that are all over. I think the issue is that teachers don’t know it is available. I didn’t know until you mentioned it but look forward to utilizing it as much as I can.

  3. on 19 Dec 2012 at 1:08 pmJason Dyer

    I’ve been a little frustrated reading the recaps, but I don’t know if that’s a function of what happened or something in the recaps themselves. To pick one I was interested in (Kyndall Brown) I found myself interested in the argument, and then it just … stopped. I had no idea how what was being discussed translated into classroom practice, what “culturally relevant pedagogy” looks like past one ambiguously phrased word problem, and how the standards of mathematical practice are linked. I had this “and so….?” effect going on for most of the recaps. Did the presenters just run out of time in general?

  4. on 19 Dec 2012 at 2:20 pmMelanie

    I must have missed you talking about this website before, because I didn’t realize it existed until just now. I am a HUGE FAN of it (and definitely will be sharing it with the teachers I work with). I think that as time goes on, and more recaps are happening, there will be all sorts of ways to build out the site, in terms of categorizing recaps, having multiple people recap the same sessions, etc. I was thinking something similar to what Jason said above – one way to improve the site would be to add some level of interaction, where readers can engage in conversations around the topic of the session. I felt similarly about the Kyndall Brown talk – it seems so interesting, and it’s something I’d like to talk more about it, and the site where the talk is described seems like the best location for that forum.

    As always, thanks for setting this up! It’s going to be an amazing resource!

  5. on 19 Dec 2012 at 5:58 pmDennis Ashendorf

    Great stuff! Loved the puzzle HANDOUT. Quick summaries with handouts or presentations – all in one place – which is great for browsing. Use tumblr. Be happy.

  6. on 19 Dec 2012 at 7:00 pmMichael P

    Blog posts are good. Presentations are good. But what is each format particularly suited to do? In particular, what gets lost when you try to translate a presentation to a blog post?

    Part of the answer is that, walking out of a presentation, you’ve spent 30-45 minutes thinking about an idea, and a blog post doesn’t demand (or invite) that sort of commitment. A presentation is an opportunity to slowly wrap your head around the speaker’s ideas, and a blog post is a chance to do the exact opposite — to quickly access a picture, a video, a handout.

    (Incidentally, that’s why I think that I learn the most from the people who blog the most regularly. Any single blog post has a very low chance of making a dent in my brain.)

    So, what of MathRecap?

    The site could either try to capture just a moment, a handout, a picture, or a summary of a session. That would be bloggifying the presentation. The other option would be to try to presentationize the blog, and stretch out the learning over several posts, several pages, several minutes in a way that more accurately reflects what one would gain out of a presentation.

    I would encourage a little bit of both, for the site. For NCTM last year I tried to collect links, slides and articles from the speakers. I posted them on a Google Doc, which was OK, but that sort of sharing could be organized and stored at one central site. On the other hand, it would be nice to invite a presenters to engage with the site for longer stints. Maybe there’s a guest post, followed by comments, a response, then another post from the speaker.

    Both quicker and longer sharing would be helpful for the site, I think.

  7. on 19 Dec 2012 at 7:39 pmLeigh Nataro

    Sometimes I have to read too much text to figure out if something is useful or not. Maybe each speaker could post a short 2 min or so synopsis of the talk, key ideas, or helpful hints.

    Also, this is the first I heard of the idea you propose. I will be at NCTM in Denver & would be willing to help in this project.

  8. on 19 Dec 2012 at 8:20 pmDan Meyer

    Jason Dyer:

    I had no idea how what was being discussed translated into classroom practice, what “culturally relevant pedagogy” looks like past one ambiguously phrased word problem, and how the standards of mathematical practice are linked.

    1. A lot of us felt that way about Kyndall Brown’s talk. 2. Not every talk was explicitly pitched at classroom practice. 3. Of the talks that were explicitly pitched at classroom practice, not every recap was edited (by me) as well as it could have been. Which gives me something to go on.

    Michael Pershan:

    On the other hand, it would be nice to invite a presenters to engage with the site for longer stints. Maybe there’s a guest post, followed by comments, a response, then another post from the speaker.

    Leigh Nataro:

    Maybe each speaker could post a short 2 min or so synopsis of the talk, key ideas, or helpful hints.

    Just to clarify: MathRecap currently has no active contribution from the session presenters themselves. All fine ideas, though.

  9. on 20 Dec 2012 at 5:48 amTamara

    I love the idea of MathRecap, but as I peruse the site it seems that no information is given about where these presentations took place. What was the name of the conference? What kind of audience does it draw?

    Is it possible that the recaps could be grouped by conference with a recap of the conference itself?

  10. on 20 Dec 2012 at 6:59 amBrendan Murphy

    Just found the site too. I’ve sent it to the math teachers in my district.
    I think it is a great idea.
    As for advice, just do what is natural and make sure you think about your audience. As a teacher I want:

    The citation-where when who
    what you think is important in my classroom

  11. on 20 Dec 2012 at 10:16 amJohanna Langill

    One way I’m anticipating using the site is to gain a general sense of what speakers have to offer and if they are worth my time at a future conference that I can attend. I thinking about this especially for the NCTM presenters, since I remember being frustrated by the hit-or-miss quality of sessions there. I am hoping to get ideas/resources out of the blog posts as well, but I think as someone who would like to attend some conferences, reading MathRecap would help me make decisions about who to make time to see, based on my interests and what they have to offer.

  12. on 20 Dec 2012 at 3:03 pmChris Robinson

    I’m the math teacher who follows conferences from afar on the Twitter backchannel(s), so I am very intrigued by this project. While I do enjoy reading the recaps of the presentations, one thing I would like to see from the site is two posts/opinions from the same presentation. In a perfect blogosphere, there would even be pro and con posts. I realize this is logistically difficult, currently, as the site is in its infancy. However, as the conference-blog-recap army grows (conscription perhaps?), I hope this could become a feature. Benefits? Possible elimination of bias and the opportunity to make a decision based on two differing viewpoints.

  13. on 20 Dec 2012 at 8:46 pmBowen Kerins

    I feel like the only way to “be there” is to have video of the actual presentation, photos and descriptions all end up reading like a blur after a while.

    Is there a way to take such a thing and add or include video of the talks? It’s a tall order because it means figuring out how to shoot that many videos cheaply in a way that they can still be seen and heard. Video + slides + handouts = awesome.

    Otherwise, I’d rather read slides and handouts than descriptions, but that’s just me.

    I agree with Johanna that NCTM speakers can be hit-or-miss. It’s much easier than ever before to get good advice online about speakers, but always keep a backup session in your pocket and don’t be afraid to walk out!

  14. on 21 Dec 2012 at 8:46 amDan Meyer

    Tamara:

    I love the idea of MathRecap, but as I peruse the site it seems that no information is given about where these presentations took place. What was the name of the conference? What kind of audience does it draw?

    Thanks for the suggestion, Tamara.

    Brendan:

    As a teacher I want:

    The citation-where when who
    what you think is important in my classroom

    Both you and Tamara speak in favor of some kind of preface at the start of each post, including some basic conference details and perhaps the abstract of the talk.

    Johanna Langill:

    One way I’m anticipating using the site is to gain a general sense of what speakers have to offer and if they are worth my time at a future conference that I can attend.

    Yeah, good plan. This makes me think we probably should have some kind of speaker listing. So you can head to the site, look up “Julie McNamara” and get a basic feel for her style. Or perhaps she’s offering a session we already recapped, in which case you might feel free to skip it in favor of another.

    Chris Robinson:

    While I do enjoy reading the recaps of the presentations, one thing I would like to see from the site is two posts/opinions from the same presentation.

    Bowen Kerins:

    Is there a way to take such a thing and add or include video of the talks? It’s a tall order because it means figuring out how to shoot that many videos cheaply in a way that they can still be seen and heard. Video + slides + handouts = awesome.

    You fellas might have an inflated idea of the resources that are backing this project.

  15. on 21 Dec 2012 at 10:27 amChris Robinson

    “At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

    Dream big or go home, right?

  16. on 21 Dec 2012 at 10:50 amLeigh Nataro

    Maybe this could be developed with several phases. Set the goal of NCTM in Denver recaps. Get people who are going to sessins to agree to create a recap for 3-6 sessions they attend. Make sure a variety if sessions are represented. Recaps by session attendees could be a text or video (2 min for video). Video can be done so easily by phone these days.

    The more I think about this the more valuable I think it could be. Again, I will be at NCTM in April and would be more than happy to post recaps of sessions I attend.

  17. on 22 Dec 2012 at 1:10 amEric

    Have you considered wikification to any extent? It seems like this kind of site would benefit greatly by the collaborative commentary efforts of the people who attended. It wouldn’t end up being as free as Wikipedia; I agree there’s some need for moderation as well. But since the site wouldn’t be high-traffic anyway, you’d just need something like account requirement for editing and maybe a little spambot script if we’re getting fancy.

    (Though not practical in the slightest, it would be ideal if substantial edits made by users who actually attended the talk be highlighted in some way. Perhaps the creator of a section gets their name attached to it and can opt to protect/semi-protect their piece, and then users can click a button to say “(s)he was there”?)

  18. on 23 Dec 2012 at 8:05 amClimeguy

    Recap should include links to blogposts related to the conference. I find blogs posted about sessions by attendees more useful than just simple recaps.

  19. on 23 Dec 2012 at 9:54 amDan Meyer

    Are you under the impression that there are lots of postings floating around for math conference sessions? (I can find exactly one for California’s keynote.) In any case, what do these other blog postings include that couldn’t also be added to the postings on MathRecap.com?

  20. on 23 Dec 2012 at 5:58 pmLisa Nussdorfer

    Greetings!
    I was surprised to see my name in Dan’s blog while I was catching up in Google Reader. I thought I would weigh in! I agree with Michael P
    “Blog posts are good. Presentations are good. But what is each format particularly suited to do? In particular, what gets lost when you try to translate a presentation to a blog post?”
    When I got to hear Dan *in person* at CMC North give his talk about “perplexity,” I felt that I could catch and understand what he was saying. In fact, I started to make connections with other subjects, like, “What does it mean to capture perplexing ideas?” “Would I be like Dan if I captured more?” “Great instruction builds by breaking down ideas into manageable chunks” I read a lot of blog posts that inform my instruction and teaching/learning philosophy but sometimes I cannot learn as much because I cannot chunk it down as well as I could in a presentation. It reminds me of independent study (you have to be VERY motivated – like watching Khan :)).
    The math recap idea will and can grow, but for ideas to spread to new areas and to non-motivated learners, buddies need to tell other buddies about it. – a Facebook Page?
    The beginning of me tapping into the online math ed community for me began when my coworker sat me down and insisted that I watch Dan’s TED talk, and here I am. It continues to be a fun ride and my google reader bulgeth.

  21. on 25 Dec 2012 at 1:58 amRoberto Catanuto

    The idea is generally good. A useful help for those who can’t access these conferences in person.

    My feeling is I find boring having to scroll down the entire page to see all the presentations’ titles and decide what’s worth reading and what’s not.

    What about a short summary somewhere, or perhaps you could write the titles as links. Clicking on them would lead the reader to the requested page.

    Thanks

  22. on 27 Dec 2012 at 9:42 amAndrew Stadel

    Bowen touched on video. Watching short video clips of presentations is valuable for me, especially if the presenter is dynamic as yourself. Dan, I recorded some of your CMC South presentation would love to share some bits of that. There were so many quality parts, but a 1-2 minute highlight would prove effective in my opinion. Would you be interested in something like that? 1-2 minutes of video highlights?

  23. on 27 Dec 2012 at 7:27 pmBlake

    Bottom line- more pub needed. Site is a great idea, obviously needs some organizational help (grouped and searchable), but word needs to get out. Lets all do our part!

  24. on 27 Dec 2012 at 9:20 pmLeigh Nataro

    Ok – I have a suggested plan of attack. Those interested in helping by contributing to the site and those interested in helping to craft this idea should meet in a google plus hangout. 9 pm eastern time works for me just about any day of the week. The hangout can be watched live on YouTube & the discussion recorded for those who can’t attend. Plus we can record our ideas on a google doc & there is a chat window too.

    What do people think? We have great ideas, but needs to refine them. I suggest thursday, January 3rd at 9 pm eastern time. My YouTube channel is mathteacher24. Go there than to contribute!

  25. on 28 Dec 2012 at 12:11 amBowen Kerins

    I think if you had something where people could upload and feature their conference videos, it would work — people would take it upon themselves to get the video hooked up. Or, whoever is going around to these speakers can borrow a flipcam or use a smartphone. I like the “highlight” idea as well; with smartphones it’s pretty simple to take a 3-5 minute video of the proceedings, at least enough to get the feel for the speaker.

    Without video I think this doesn’t go anywhere, but it’s just an opinion. I am shocked, however, that I’m trying to convince you that video can do things that text cannot ;)

  26. on 29 Dec 2012 at 8:23 amBill Fitzgerald

    Hello, Dan,

    Another hand in the air here from people who didn’t know about the site until now.

    As to improving the site, the biggest thing you can do to improve it is keep adding content. From a look at the posts, it looks like the site has been around since late November – that’s not a huge amount of time.

    I would also hesitate against judging the utility of the site from something as simple as pageviews. IMO, it’s better to be of great interest to a smaller, motivated crowd than to break pageview records. In any case, I’d focus on quality of posts/recaps, and let the pageviews sort themselves out.

    Additionally, having a calendar of math conferences that will be recapped would also be useful. Allowing people to browse recaps by conference would also be useful. The fact that people can only interact with the site via full-text posts makes it difficult to browse, which will drive down interactions by people who might want to dig deeper but feel like the site doesn’t offer much in the way of tools to discover content.

    Finally, the search functionality will need to improve as more content gets added – right now, it returns full text (or at least it did when I searched for iPad); ideally it would return titles, text excerpts, and allow for faceted drill down within searches. Given that WP supports solr search, this could be pretty straightforward: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/solr-for-wordpress/

    But really, the site is useful; the best thing you could do is recruit more recappers, find an additional trustworthy editor or 5, and have more people add more content.

  27. on 30 Dec 2012 at 10:42 amDan Meyer

    Hi Bill, thanks for the feedback here, particularly on Solr. The sum of your comments and others here point in the direction of more visible tagging, both by conference, speaker name, and content. So ideally, someone who heard about a remarkable talk on flipped classroom deployment in a 1:1 Android tablet classroom at NCTM 2013 should be able to locate a recap of that talk by clicking away at that unholy mess of tags. That sounds useful to me.

  28. on 30 Dec 2012 at 11:36 amBill Fitzgerald

    Hello, Dan,

    Content strategy around tagging would certainly be part of it; ideally, this would be paired with some clean summary pages (that displayed, for example, a title, a summary, and a related image) that helped give people an overview of what is available within a given topic. And, fwiw, tagging and tag maintenance could be an editorial role (as opposed to something that is put onto content authors).

    Right now, people get full text or nothing, which impairs their ability to browse and discover.

    But really, this site is a great start, and it will only become more valuable as more content gets added.

  29. on 03 Jan 2013 at 6:26 pmLeigh Nataro

    I definitely see the value in this and would like to contribute recaps of some of the T-Cubed sessions I am going to be going to in Philly in March.

    (I posted above about trying a google+ hangout on air. Apparently, you can’t invite the general public to a hangout on your youtube channel. So, if this was going to become a way to “meet” to discuss the site, a group would need to be created via google + first.)