Tag Archives: math

EDUKWEST Sunday Review

Sunday Review for the Week of March 17th 2014

In this week’s Sunday Review we learn about the potential reasons why Coursera is allowed to give access to some of its courses to Iranian students, why VCs tend to get edtech wrong, who owns the rights to a MOOC when the instructor leaves the institution, why students sue Google, how semantic search will improve education, how researchers are chasing pageviews like bloggers and more.

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C12 Audio Podcast

C12 Interview: Ilan Samson of QAMA Calculator (Audio)

C12 Audio Podcast

C12 Interview: Ilan Samson of QAMA Calculator

  • recorded: July 27th 2012
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Enter QAMA, truly one of the coolest, most thoughtful, welcome bits of ed tech to hit math classrooms in a very long time. Created by Ilan Samson, a retired physicist and serial inventor, to address exactly the problems I described above, the QAMA calculator forces students to provide a reasonable estimate for their answer before it will output the exact answer.

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C12 Interview Ilan Samson QAMA Calculator

C12 Interview: Ilan Samson of QAMA Calculator

Editor’s Note: The post originally appeared on ZDNet Education. Click here to read the entire post.

C12 Interview Ilan Samson QAMA Calculator

Calculators are designed to eliminate the need for repetitive, tedious arithmetic, leaving time to actually think about the math. When used correctly in the classroom, modern graphing calculators can do wonders for visualization, simulation, and encouraging that critical thought that we’re all after.

They were supposed to eliminate the tedium and simple mistakes that plague many calculations but instead have become the go-to device for any math problem. Worse, students frequently lack the mathematical savvy to know when the answer output by the calculator doesn’t make sense. Estimation, it would seem, is a lost art.

Enter QAMA, truly one of the coolest, most thoughtful, welcome bits of ed tech to hit math classrooms in a very long time. Created by Ilan Samson, a retired physicist and serial inventor, to address exactly the problems I described above, the QAMA calculator forces students to provide a reasonable estimate for their answer before it will output the exact answer.

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Ilan covered much more complex functionality later in our interview (I’m afraid that when you stick a couple of math geeks together, we can get a bit long-winded, so I didn’t include the entire interview here); however, the concept remains the same. Force students to demonstrate conceptual mastery and then give them the exact answer. The calculator is really quite amazing in its ability to determine appropriate degrees of allowable error and to prevent gaming of the system through any sort of trial and error. In fact, the logic built into the little machine would make one heck of a case study in a computer science class.

The calculator also allows for the estimating requirement to be turned off, but not with out a set of randomly flashing LEDs alerting instructors that students aren’t stepping through the full process in determining their answers. It isn’t often that a device will make me really say “Wow – this could be a game-changer.” The QAMA calculator, though, is precisely that. At around $20 a piece, these little devices are quite inexpensive and yet stand to change the way a couple generations of students have been using calculators. The ability to simply estimate is so critical in not just mathematics, but in all applications of math; the QAMA calculator is a no-brainer place to start in shifting the way our students learn math, logic, reasoning, and more.

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girlmath

On Mothers and Math: Behind the Buzz

As someone who has been relatively vocal about research rigor and how findings are interpreted (and sometimes misinterpreted) in the mainstream media, it was certainly interesting for me when a small study I did as a spin-off from my dissertation picked up a bit of buzz a few weeks back. To summarize, in an analysis of number-related language (e.g., “three cats,” “how many apples?”) in everyday speech, American mothers of toddlers (mean age 22 months) spoke two to three times more often about numbers and quantities when talking to boys compared to girls. After reading some of the questions and comments (some quite angry!) about the study, I thought it might be interesting to provide a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at how this paper came to be. I’ve addressed a few issues that directly deal with gender stereotyping – and why the study did not include fathers – in a previous Q&A with Mommyish.com, so I will try my best to not be repetitive.

I was originally studying differences between Mandarin Chinese and English speaking parents, how they talk to children about number before they enter formal schooling, and how this might contribute to the well-documented cross-national differences in math scores between Mandarin speaking countries (China, Singapore, Taiwan) and their English speaking counterparts (including the United States). I never failed to get at least one question about gender differences each time I presented the data. Since my research was actually about language and concept development, it took awhile after sorting the initial study out before I took the time to carefully look at what was happening between genders.

I needed to make sure that the age of the children and the amount of overall speech generally matched between boys and girls (i.e., I controlled for age and amount of speech) in order to compare between roughly equivalent groups of mother-son and mother-daughter pairs. The fact that only mothers were left after this matching process was purely circumstantial, not intentional. (However, at least one study has found that fathers show a greater bias toward boys than mothers when explaining science museum exhibits). My colleagues and I were both shocked and fascinated to find significant differences in number speech to boys and girls… but only in the American group. Over the next two years (that’s right, years), this paper was written and revised countless times. However, it was rejected no fewer than seven times from as many journals before finally being accepted and published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology.

This is just one example of the stark difference in pace between academia and Silicon Valley. Between authors, reviewers, and editors, iterating on a manuscript can take months, if not years, for a variety of reasons. A lot of stress can result from a sometimes incredibly long peer review process. More than once have I wondered if a reviewer actually read my manuscript, and have become incredibly frustrated when reviews that don’t seem particularly negative result in a rejection for an unclear reason. Despite all of the challenges, I firmly believe in peer review as a tenet of the scientific process. I feel that it is important for articles that go down as scientific record to be reviewed by individuals with domain expertise. In addition, my co-authors and I knew that we had an important, compelling result, and knew that the only way that it would ever have any impact in the world (even just to us in our own careers!) would be to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal. And we finally succeeded… on the eighth try.

The amount of time it takes to design, run, analyze, implement, and then publish a research study is one of the reasons why there isn’t a lot of “hard evidence” about some of the current learning technologies Silicon Valley is buzzing about. Pilot results are one thing, but full randomized controlled trials are a whole different beast. Building a bridge between rigorous scientific research and development of technology is something that I feel is incredibly important, but has quite a ways to go. It is my hope that in this next phase of my career, I can make a contribution in this area, and perhaps even inspire more girls and women to pursue STEM!

References

Chang, A., Sandhofer, C.M., & Brown, C.S. (2011). Gender Biases in Early Number Exposure to Preschool-Aged Children. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 30(4), 440-450.

Crowley, K., Callanan, M. A., Tenenbaum, H. R., & Allen, E. (2001). Parents explain more often to boys than girls during shared scientific thinking. Psychological Science, 12, 258-261.

Picture by kakisky

MIT BLOSSOMS

MIT BLOSSOMS – Free Courseware Library of STEM focused Videos

MIT BLOSSOMS

The MIT has launched a new interesting initiative called BLOSSOMS which was first demoed at a workshop dedicated to STEM education.

BLOSSOMS stands for Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies and aims to create a courseware library of STEM focused videos that can be freely used in high schools.

The initiative currently has 50 lessons available, each of these is 50 minutes long. They are freely available to teachers and available in various formats such as streaming, download but also classic DVD and even videotapes which enables teachers to really use the materials in every scenario from tech equipped classrooms to also less technology enabled schools.

This MIT project also has international participation of educators, notably from Jordan and Pakistan who have helped design the lessons which illustrates the aim of Blossoms to familiarize students with cultural diversity besides fostering critical thinking and problem solving. The video lessons find their place in the classroom to support the classroom teacher by also having a virtual instructor but also providing students with additional materials for download such as handouts and a teacher handbook.

BLOSSOMS engages the class in a mix of watching short segments of the videos that usually end with a question asked or problem to solve and then their “real” teacher takes over and the class work on solving the problem. This alternate process goes on for the entire time of the class.
This way BLOSSOMS hopes to meet their goals of exciting students for STEM and showing the relevance to the real world, help develop critical thinking skills as well as develop awareness and understanding for different cultures. Last but not least, high school teachers are supported by and introduced to technology in the classroom to add value and support their own teaching.

Via: theJournal

Stickery

Math Education App Stickery raises $325K from Google Ventures, 500 Startups

Stickery

According to TechCrunch a new mobile application joined the family of 500 Startups funded companies. If I am not mistaken, Stickery is already the second math learning application Dave McClure and his team invested in, MotionMath being the first.

Other investors to the $325K seed round include Google Ventures and international investors.

What both Stickery and MathMotion have in common is a clear focus on data in order to support parents and eventually teachers in better understanding where a kid might struggle and need help. In their own words, Stickery wants

… to get [children] out of the “euphoria” phase of sensory stimulation into the “eureka” phase of intellectual discovery.

Stickery

 

Website: stickeryapp.com
Twitter: @stickery
Facebook: facebook.com/stickery

iTunes: Adventures of Hana & Cory in Mermaid Waters

homeworkhelp

Free Math Help offered Online by the Ministry of Education in Ontario

In Ontario, students of grades 7 to 10 can now get free math help after school online and for free. Homework Help is an online portal by the Ontario Ministry of Education launched already two years ago in the Near North District and it will now be available for the entire province.

Students use their Ontario Student Education Number to register on the platform and then get access to math teachers employed by the Ministry. They engage via chat and interactive whiteboard and the students can also choose if they prefer to stay anonymous during the session.

The live interaction with teachers is available from Sunday through Thursday between 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Besides the live interaction with a teacher the Homework Help platform also offers other online resources like video tutorials, FAQ, interactive games and a virtual locker to save their work.

Via: CottageCountryNow.ca

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TenMarks launches New Version of its Free Math Program for Teachers

The team at TenMarks was busy over the summer and worked on a complete overhaul of the free math program for teachers. The new version went live yesterday, as promised just in time for the new school year.

The aim was to create a more powerful and engaging version that students and teachers will love alike.

With the new version teachers will get

  • Dynamic reports
  • Revamped assigning system
  • Upgraded practice assignment tracking
  • Improved student communication

Students will benefit of

  • Improved student experience
  • Hints and video lessons for success
  • Badges and Points
  • Class Rankings

The product is basically a turn-key solution. The teacher fills in some basic information and according to state and grade TenMarks automatically assigns the matching content. Of course, the teacher can rearrange or add other exercises to individualize the program in order to match his own curriculum.

[iframe width="560" height="450" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/pCYwyDTyA8s?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]

The screencast above gives you a pretty good idea of the power behind the revamped product. Teachers can dig into the data of their class and receive truly granular data on the performance of each individual student or the whole class. And remember, all this is available for free.

If you would like to learn more about TenMarks and the vision behind this amazing product, you might like to watch my EDUKWEST interview with Rohit Agarwal.

 

Website: TenMarks.com
Twitter: @TenMarks
Facebook: TenMarks 

brightstormtextbook

Brightstorm lets students find Video Lessons based on the Textbooks they use

Brightstorm, a platforms that offers thousands of free video lessons on math and science launched a new feature.

Students can now easily browse for related videos by the textbook they are using. If a student is stuck with a specific exercise he goes to the Brightstorm website, chooses the textbook and the chapter or page the exercise is in. He then immediately gets a selection of the related Brightstorm video lessons available.

For the launch there are six textbooks on Algebra and Geometry by publishers Holt McDougal and Pearson Prentice Hall available but Brightstorm is planning to cover most textbooks used in the U.S. eventually.

Bumsoo Kim, CEO of Brightstorm says

“Teenage learners are busy and have lots of distractions. Unless they find what they want immediately, they will lose interest and give up before they learn what they need. That’s why we map our video library to major textbooks. Our users study with their textbooks every night. We wanted to save their time. It’s simple.”

Brightstorm Textbook

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Robert Gange of Perfect800

This episode of EDUKWEST is dedicated to one of the biggest trends in the online education market: learning Math. Perfect800 is a SF based start-up that helps you study for and improve on your score in the SAT Math section. On the website there are currently more than 600 problems along with their explanations available.

I did the interview with Robert Gange, co founder and CEO, who shares his extensive knowledge with us from the times he as a Math tutor was preparing students for the SAT and why he eventually decided against building a tutoring service but instead the team built the product around asynchronous content.

The website is very intuitive and easy to navigate and I love the design. It’s refreshingly new and different from many other educational websites and products I have revised.

In the product itself, Students have different study modes to choose from: they can study on specific questions but also go back into sections they had finished but made mistakes. As every problem comes with a detailed explanation how to solve it, students can train areas in which they encountered problems specifically.

Users also have the possibility to get serious and put themselves in the exam sitting situation. You will get the questions the same way they will be presented in the actual exam later on and see how you perform under realistic testing conditions.

I really liked the next two product features. In order to stay motivated students are also rewarded whilst learning Math and unlock badges. These will give them access to new games and challenges.

Over the whole SAT Math preparation process students get metrics and their performance statistics, so that perfect transparency is ensured.

I think, Robert and the team pretty much hit it with Perfect800. The website is fast and works really well. It gives students everything they need when prepping for the SAT without the need of paying for an expensive tutor and it even provides users with a social layer of badges and gaming aspects and for the serious performance oriented students (or should I say parents) there are the metrics to measure success and performance over time.

Finally I would like to thank Steve Cooper of Camelback Education for introducing me to this great startup.

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EDUKWEST #52 with Robert Gange of Perfect800

Additional Links:

Website: http://www.perfect800.com
Blog: http://blog.perfect800.com/
Perfect800 on Twitter: @Perfect800