Category Archives: ictcm

Saturday agenda for the ICTCM

It was a full day yesterday here at the ICTCM, and the day was capped off with a very enjoyable dinner with Maria Andersen and Scott Franklin, along with two of Maria’s friends who (if I understood Maria right) are soon-to-be math bloggers. I have photos and a video forthcoming.

Today will be no less busy:

  • 8:00-8:45: Session on handheld calculating devices over the last 30 years and how they have changed teaching. Very interested in this talk; I’ll have more to say about some of the handheld technology I’m seeing here.
  • 9:00-9:45: Session on using Maple 11 in the advanced calculus and modern algebra classroom.
  • 9:45–10:30: Exhibit hall surfing.
  • 11:30-12:05: Session on labs in mathematics classes.
  • 12:30-1:15: Session on using Geometers Sketchpad alongside computer algebra systems.
  • 1:30-2:15: Session on Winplot.
  • 2:30-3:15: Take a break!
  • 3:30-4:15: Session on blogging with concept maps. Two of my favorite things put together, so this ought to be fun.
  • 4:30-5:15: Haven’t made up my mind yet — either a session on CaluMath or a session on using Geometers Sketchpad in calculus courses.

Unfortunately the internet access I am paying $10 a day for isn’t wireless — or at least, there is wireless but yesterday it didn’t play nice with me. So I won’t be blogging continuously. Which is probably a good thing because I need to pay attention at these sessions. Speaking of which, it’s time to head down to the first one.

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Filed under Calculators, Computer algebra systems, Education, Educational technology, Geometers Sketchpad, ictcm, Software

Quick report from ICTCM afternoon

I only have about 15 minutes before I head for dinner with Scott Franklin and Maria Andersen — both of whom are also conference-blogging — so all I can whip up for now is a quick bullet list. I’ll elaborate later.

  • My talk went fine. I think I clocked in at 12 minutes, a little over but not disastrously so. All the technology worked fine, although the room was quite cramped and the projector was in the center of the room — meaning that my Macbook had to be in the center of the room and there was not much room left over to move around. But that’s minor stuff.
  • Attended a session on a freshman-level course at Ithaca College called Mathematical Experimentation. Very intriguing. I’d like to do something like this at our place.
  • Instead of bumming around the exhibit hall, I ended up simply taking a half-hour walk along the Riverwalk, since I’d been cooped up in the hotel all day and it was gorgeous outside.
  • Attended a session on Octave. Matlab has been in the discussion mix in my department, so Octave was a product of interest.
  • Went to another session which was supposed to be on how to choose an online homework system — we’re thinking about moving to online homework too — but left after 15 minutes because there had been no mention of how to choose an online homework system yet, nor was there any coming up in the Powerpoint slides. So I went to the exhibit hall to talk to the online homework vendors firsthand. Had a nice discussion with the head honcho at WebAssign. Pretty impressive product, there.
  • Finally, a session on symbolic geometry software. This was simply amazing. I’ll have to describe this in more detail later, but Geometry Expressions is the name of the software being demoed, and it rocked my world. Think dynamic geometry front-end for a computer algebra system. All I can say is that this so far has been the only technology product I’ve seen here and come away thinking I MUST HAVE THAT.
  • Scott Franklin and Maria Andersen are just as attractive and intelligent in person as they are on their blogs. And I mean that in a good way!

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Filed under Educational technology, ictcm

Camtasia, etc.

I just returned from the Camtasia workshop. The originally-scheduled speaker, it turns out, got stranded in Dallas after that city got six inches of snow last night. (This is Texas, right?) So the conference organizers were scrambling to find somebody with Camtasia experience. I suggested that they go pull somebody from the TechSmith booth in the exhibitor area, and a few minutes later they returned with Dave McCollom and Mike [sorry, can’t remember the last name]. Those two proceeded to put on a fun, engaging, and hugely informative workshop on the fly with zero preparation time. They even ended right on time.  I think that says a lot about the company and the product it makes.

Very, very impressed with Camtasia. It has a simple user interface (very similar to iMovie) and lots of options. My partner and I in the workshop put together a 3-minute Flash video on xFunctions, complete with callouts and transitions and the whole nine yards, and honestly we never really felt like we were working that hard. (For the Flash-haters out there, you can also save in something like eight other video formats, including Quicktime.) I didn’t realize that TechSmith also operates Screencast.com, and you can upload Camtasia-produced movies directly to that hosting service. They also have a connection with Jing somehow, although I’m not completely sure what exactly that connection is. (I don’t see it listed as a TechSmith product, but they had Jing stuff all over the TechSmith booth in the exhibition hall.) (Update: On the Jing website, there’s a blurb that says “A project by TechSmith”.)

Anyhow, Camtasia blows Snapz Pro X (which I currently use) out of the water when it comes to screencasting. The only problem is that there’s no OS X version right now. I can run Camtasia under Windows XP on Parallels; I asked David if I could capture stuff outside the Windows XP window if I were running Camtasia under Parallels, and he wasn’t sure. That’s an experiment for later. But he did say that they hope to release a native OS X version, rebuilt from the ground up, some time this year, and he got my contact info to be on the beta-testing “team”.

Now it’s time to get ready for my contributed paper session talk, which is in about 20 minutes. I’ll report on that later in the afternoon since I have a full slate of stuff until dinnertime.

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Filed under Educational technology, ictcm, Screencasts, Software, Technology

ICTCM keynote: 3d modeling in the math and science classroom?

I’m back in from the ICTCM keynote address, which was given by Frank Hughes of Tietronix Software. Hughes is an educator of sorts — he has been the trainer for astronauts and other NASA employees since the 70’s. At Tietronix, which develops simulation software for NASA, he is working on a project to take the 3D modeling technology used in space simulations  and adapt it to teaching math and science. He gave us two web sites with some web-based 3D simulations. Unfortunately, one of the links didn’t work when I tried it just now, but this one — the “Virtual Astronaut” — at least goes where it’s supposed to.

It was interesting to see what they are doing, and I was especially interested to hear that they are working on developing haptic devices for using the software. I would have liked to hear with a little more specificity just exactly what Tietronix has in mind regarding classroom use of this stuff. The talk mainly focused on demoing the software with  statements such as “All you have to do is plug in your math or science problem here!” But what math problem? And how do we plug it in? I guess that’s why they are looking for educators with whom to collaborate.

Coming up: Camtasia workshop in about 50 minutes. First, down to the Exhibit Halls to get a look-see.

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On the ground at ICTCM

hotel-lobby-floor.jpgAs you can see in this photo, I made it safe and sound to San Antonio and the ICTCM. The image here is the ICTCM logo being projected on to the floor of the lobby. I guess that makes more of a splash than just putting the names of the groups who are meeting on a board somewhere.

Except for a 90-minute delay in Detroit for a mechanical problem, the trip here was uneventful.  That’s something of a big deal for me, since I am breaking a ten-year long boycott of Northwest Airlines on this trip. The last time I flew NWA was in 1997 when I was interviewing for jobs, and I had to make three trips on NWA. Every leg of each trip encountered a delay of at least two hours. But this time around it was pretty smooth sailing. The pilot even managed somehow to make up 30 minutes of lost time while in the air.

All I have done since getting in to the hotel is check in, get my conference packet, go roaming for fast food, and plan my schedule out. The hotel here is connected directly to the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, and while looking for dinner, I exited the hotel directly into these scenes (click to enlarge):

riverwalk-1.jpgriverwalk-2.jpg

…which were accompanied by the heavenly smells of the Southwestern fare of the riverwalk restaurants. I’ll be lucky to escape here having only gained a dozen or so pounds.

As for the conference itself, it will be a busy and informative couple of days. Tomorrow we have the keynote address from Frank Hughes on “Real-time virtual environments for teaching mathematics” which sounds like it’s going to be about immersive, virtual-reality-type technology for teaching mathematics. That sounds interesting, and strangely enough this is exactly something that one of my linear algebra students was telling me he hoped I would see while I was here.  Then I will have my Camtasia workshop, followed by my contributed paper session talk at 1:10. Then at 2:10 there’s a contributed paper on a first-year mathematics course on mathematical experiementation; then a session on Octave; then a session on how to choose an online homework delivery system; then a session on something called symbolic geometry software which is supposed to be a hybrid of a computer algebra system and dynamic geoemtry software.

And that’s just Friday, and only a very small sample of the great variety of stuff being presented here. Saturday is just as busy, and I’ll talk about that tomorrow. As the Riverwalk is a feast for the smells and tastes of food lovers, the ICTCM promises to be a feast for the creativity and ideas of people who are passionate about teaching and technology.

At various points throughout tomorrow and Saturday, I’ll have chances to go to the exhibit hall as well. Although I have to say I am a little disappointed, because evidently there are fewer than 20 exhibitors in all here. I was expecting something like at the Joint Meetings where the entire convention center floor is wall-to-wall exhibitors. At least this will allow me to get some face time with each one, and who knows, maybe even some impromptu video interviews.

Unfortunately, the internet access at this hotel is not wireless except in the lobby, which means that I will only be able to post when I am back in the room. I will publish some of the posts on a delay to spread them out during the day, but they won’t all be in real time. I will refrain now from the rant I so desperately want to give against the Marriott hotel here — which advertises high-speed internet but charges you $10 a day to have it. Come on Marriott, what would it cost you to set up a few wireless routers and offer net access to guests?

Anyway, stay tuned for more.

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Oh, sure…

…NOW the Indy airport decides this is a good idea:

screenshot.png

Oh well, I always enjoy going to Detroit and Memphis anyway. (*cough*)

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Filed under Humor, ictcm

San Antonio or bust

Tomorrow is a travel day as I fly down to San Antonio for the ICTCM. I’m leaving from Indy around 11:00 AM and am supposed to (!) arrive around 4:30. All I  plan to do tomorrow is travel, check in to the hotel, and maybe grab a  program and plan my schedule for the conference. Given that my most recent airline experience was sheer hell, I’ve learned not to plan too much on a travel day since a “day” can end up being about 40 hours long.

I’m excited about the conference, especially at the prospect of meeting some of the folks I’ve been blogging with for years and at learning lots of cool new things. But I don’t look forward to missing my wife and kids. I don’t travel much, so it’s not easy for the girls (ages 2 and 4) when I’m gone for a few days. P, our 2-year old, is picking up speaking English very rapidly these days, and tonight she looked up at my wife and said — clear as day — “Miss daddy!” It’s a reminder that despite the reimbursements for travel and hotel that I’m getting from my college, there is still a cost involved in going to these conferences, and it’s up to me to make it worth that cost.

I hope to check in with another post once I’m there tomorrow, but I’m not planning on blogging until then. However, you can follow me on Twitter for more regular (if less substantive) updates. Yes, I know I just bashed Twitter addicts and yet there I am using it.

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Filed under Educational technology, ictcm