Category Archives: Links

Monday linkages

From Joanne Jacobs, a handy interactive certification map for prospective teachers.

Chester Finn and Mike Pitrelli say that education needs more efficiency, not more investment. We could at least give it a try.

Killing the buzz over “21st-Century Skills”: ““The error at the heart of P21 is the idea that skills are all-purpose muscles that, once developed, can be applied to new and unforeseen domains of experience.”

Want a job? Don’t major in business. Instead, major in a “classical” liberal arts major and then take 4-6 math courses on the side (i.e. get a math minor).

Using math to make the perfect pancake.

Albrecht Dürer and the heptagon.

Experiments with MATLAB, a high-school (!) level book on MATLAB from Cleve Moler.

Several apps from Omni Group — OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter — are now freeware. These used to be about $25 apiece. I tried OmniWeb once and thought it was really good, and I’ll probably try it out again. If you’ve got a Mac and some disk space, have at ’em!

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Linkages, 29 December

The perils of graphing, from xkcd.

Erin at Critical Mass claims that tenure is untenable and has already been phased out without our even knowing it. Good discussion in the comments.

The New York state comptroller says that New York state college students could save $500 per year on textbooks by buying them online rather than in a campus bookstore. He gives a list of recommendations to universities to make this easier to do. Right on.

Possibly the most comprehensive and mathematically thorough analysis ever of how to curve grades.

The trouble with GTD.

An observation about the changing demographic of mathematics education researchers.

Finally, some number-theoretic trivia about the number 2009, just in time for the new year.

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Wednesday morning links

  • Walking Randomly has an interesting discovery about the Fibonacci sequence and linear algebra.
  • The Productive Student offers up some advice on how to be a leader and conduct killer team sessions. It’s good stuff not only for students who are doing collaborative work but also for anybody who goes to meetings. Are there people who don’t have to go to meetings?
  • InsideHigherEd reports on an interesting setup to attract Chinese students to study in the US — the 1+2+1 degree, which involves one year in China, two in the US, and then the final year back in China. (Unfortuately, as the article notes, you can’t Google “1+2+1” because all you get is “4”.)
  • Also at IHE and a lot of other places, Rice University is now using an open textbook for its elementary statistics course which is not only free but open for rearrangement and adaptation by any user. A shot across the bow of traditional textbook companies?
  • Study Hacks offers advice to students on cutting out the single biggest source of stress (according to them) — the killer course load. There’s something to be said for having an unbalanced course schedule — I found grad school to be easier in some ways than college because I was only taking math courses — but I do remember the worst semester I ever had as an undergrad had me taking three senior-level math courses… plus German, orchestra, and concert choir, with a 20-hour work week at a donut shop to boot. Balance is important.
  • Reasonable Deviations writes about a hack of the Boston subway system by three MIT students (for what appear to be purely academic purposes). Predictably, the subway authorities have sought legal action against the students. They ought instead to be thanking them, or hiring them outright, for pointing out a security flaw that eventually could have cost the company millions.
  • Java is the most popular programming language in the world, but some are saying that using Java as the language of choice in intro programming courses (as is currently done, for example, in the standard AP Computer Science courses) is hurting students in the long run. To me, this article raises the question of just what computer programming is these days.
  • A new Zogby poll is indicating that online university programs (meaning, it seems, online programs offered by existing brick-and-mortar universities as opposed to online universities) are rapidly gaining mainstream acceptance, despite the perception (possibly justified) that they offer less academic rigor than traditional university programming. Unfortunately you have to drill down into the Chronicle article mentioned at the above link to discover that the Zogby poll was administered online! So much for unbiased sampling. But at any rate, the trend seems to be limited mainly to older adults who are looking for college coursework, which makes sense. I think if you restricted the polling to a traditional college population — for example, high school seniors who are looking at colleges to attend — I don’t think you’d see nearly as much of a trend toward online programming.

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Wednesday morning links

Update: Welcome, readers from The FIRE! I’ve got more articles about free speech on campus and academic freedom which you might like to browse. Also take a walk through the Top 12 Posts retrospective page if you like.

  • The importance of teaching kids to pay attention, over against the phenomenon of “multitasking”. Lord knows I’m trying to do this with my 2- and 4-year olds. [h/t Joanne Jacobs]
  • What college administrators think about college faculty. The short version: Some admins think that faculty play too little of a role in campus administration, some think too much, but most think that faculty focus too much on their own territory and lack perspective.
  • On the innumeracy of intellectuals. This is a juicy article and I will try to have more to say about it later. But I distinctly remember several colleagues in the humanities who at one time or another openly embraced their having no knowledge or enjoyment of math or science, often in full view of students whom we were trying to teach a lifelong love of learning. Intellectuals, if you prize education so highly, get a well-rounded one yourself!
  • Some student journalists have earned themselves a bad reputation around this blog, but here’s a great example of a student journalist at IU-South Bend who is blowing the lid off an embarassing speech code case at IUPUI.
  • Speaking of speech codes, here’s a piece on the death of parody on campus.
  • Richard DeMillo is stepping down as dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. I’ve blogged about Georgia Tech’s interesting new approach to the computer science major before, which was instituted on DeMillo’s watch, and its seemingly positive impact on computer science major enrollments. The interview at the link gives the strong impression that DeMillo’s resignation comes as a result of political struggles with the Provost, which is disheartening if true.
  • India is developing its own $100 laptop, and this time it might not actually end up costing $200.
  • According to a recent report, starting salaries for electrical engineers are up 13% from 2007, and starting salaries average around $56,000 per year — not including signing bonuses, which are more and more common and are reaching levels of around $4500. And that’s for a EE with just one degree; imagine what you could do with two!

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Wednesday links

  • Study Hacks gives us a master class on time management for students. Students, put down the XBox and read this for a few minutes.
  • Stanley Fish has a new book titled Save The World On Your Own Time, in which he challenges professors to “to present the material in the syllabus and introduce students to state-of-the-art methods of analysis. Not to practice politics, but to study it; not to proselytize for or against religious doctrines, but to describe them; not to affirm or condemn Intelligent Design, but to explain what it is and analyze its appeal.” Sounds good, in this day and age of the activist-professor, but the commenters at the related piece at InsideHigherEd.com aren’t convinced Fish is sincere.
  • Adopt-a-star. No, we’re not talking about taking Gary Coleman in under your roof.
  • I can’t figure out which is more ridiculous, the school”s reaction to this incident or the fact that a parent would put her second-grader in a “N the N-Word” t-shirt in the first place.
  • Speaking of ridiculous, or perhaps just unbelievable, here’s the 10 Worst Products for Men Ever Created. One-word summary: Recto-Rotor.

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