Month: October 2008

Total 16 Posts

Because Video Is Harder

Downes on the amateurish state of digital video online:

To me, what we are seeing reminds me of the early days of HTML, when some web pages were just awful. We rarely see that any more – not because people became better HTML programmers, but because the tools made HTML programming unnecessary. The same will be true of video.

This would be true if video production’s tallest hurdle were technical, as it was when all these competent writers found a way past HTML programming with blogging. Rather, video’s tallest hurdle is creative. Cheap hardware and simple software won’t matter a bit if you don’t know where to put the camera or where to put that edit.

Stephen’s outlook on digital video struck me as overly sanguine last November. A year later, having completed just ten videos with dy/av, I can report that no form of creative expression has been so difficult, or so satisfying.

I Can’t Do This

In an astonishingly wise appropriation of tech funds, my district is paying its own teachers to conduct tech seminars for other teachers. I signed up for a block of three tutorials on maximizing digital projector use in the classroom. I have way too much material for this workshop.

But my district’s curriculum coordinator assigned me a workshop called “Web 2.0 for Mathematics Instruction” unaware that my c.v. here is positively larded with skepticism about this place where your Internets and my Maths coincide, a place which you have sworn exists. I have no material for this workshop.

Neither, apparently, do the ed-tech institutions. Vicki Davis retweeted this from Dianne Krause the other day:

Leigh Ann Sudol’s response, that this blog represents some kind of coincidence of Web 2.0 and math, is even more disconcerting:

Far from representing the read-write web’s effect on math instruction, this blog remains perpetually befuddled by it.

So before I cancel this workshop (for which I never volunteered in the first place) I’ll put Vicki and Dianne’s question out here: does anybody have any examples of Web 2.0 technology transforming math instruction?

I’m particularly interested in methods specific to math. Tell me my students can collaborate over a conceptual wiki, or Skype with another country over project-based learning, or blog their class notes, and you’ll find my attention wandering. These techniques could enhance a class on auto repair, I realize, but the farther you wander away from the liberal arts towards my room, the more their returns diminish.


Though Scott has yet to release his 2008 survey of the edublogosphere (which *cough* will only be a year outdated this January) I have seen some of the early infographs and they confirm that the loudest voices on the matter of ed-tech don’t teach and, furthermore, don’t teach math:

Time was, I’d recommend Darren Kuropatwa as the go-to guy for math instruction using read-write technology but I pay my taxes more often than he blogs.

So where are the Web 2.0-enabled math teacher bloggers?

Confronting My Own Irrelevance

Two things:

  1. The fact is that many successful people couldn’t pass a summative Algebra exam. I wouldn’t give my principal or my superintendent – both smart, successful people – good odds in a fight with a quadratic equation. So why do I teach this stuff?
  2. This question pounds at me a little harder with this year’s remedial Algebra group which, on an individual student average, has seen more hard time than I have in twice their years. I understand that passing Algebra and (by prerequisite) graduating high school increases one’s earning potential, etc., but what kind of sales pitch is that to a kid who’s raising himself and his sister and who is, at fourteen, a high-functioning alcoholic, who is, right now, feeling pretty proud of himself for just catching the metro line to school. How am I supposed to tell this kid to solve for x? Needless to say, when you’re dealing with a kid who very literally has nothing left to lose, you’ve also gotta rethink your usual set of motivators.