What is a Blog Good For? Just About Everything!

blog_1_smOver the last 9 weeks I have been posting writing on a variety of subjects. These writings are part of Yavapai College’s 9x9x25 Challenge. What is the Challenge? As the father of the Challenge, Todd Conway, writes:

The Challenge is about writing as a reflective practice in teaching. The Challenge is about sharing your experiences as an educator, discovering new ideas about teaching and learning, creating a deeper sense of community between faculty at Yavapai College. The Challenge is also about learning what the internet is capable of and how it can be used in academic environments.

A blog is the natural vehicle for writing. It is a simple content management system that is easy to use. Whether you use a WordPress.com, blogster.com, blogspot.com, or other blogging platform, it is easy to post text, music, pictures, video or practically any other type of content.

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Engage Students By Making Them Board

motogBack around 1980, I got my first computer. As I recall, it had the brand name Sinclair and it was connected to a little black and white TV we had in the basement. It had a minimal amount of memory, but I could save programs to a cassette tape connected to the IO port. That computer found its way to a landfill in Alaska a long time ago. It amazes me that almost every one of my students (as well as myself) carries a small computer in their pocket that is hundreds of times more powerful than that old Sinclair. Not only is it more powerful, but my smartphone fits in the palm of my hand. It also amazes me at the growing number of uses a smartphone has in the classroom.

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Some Tips on Collaborating in Google

In earlier post, I described how I set up teams in my College Algebra class and utilize Google shared documents to work through projects. In this post, I want to demonstrate how students can communicate with each other through notes and comments in these shared documents.

Most of the student teams in my face-to-face classes utilize in person meetings along with collaborations through comments. My online students do not usually meet in person so online comments and email (and some phone calls) are their primary means of collaboration.

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A Different Approach to Optimization Problems

Historically, maximization problems have been a problem for calculus students. Not so much in finding critical points from functions and classifying them, but finding the objective function to begin with. Students rely on basic examples to mimic. We wonder why they can’t carry out more complicated examples. They are able to model simple physical situations after much practice, but flounder when faced with slightly more complicated problems because they don’t understand the complication well.

As the maximization and minimization problems become more complicated, using a table to organize examples of what is being modeled becomes more and more useful. Let’s look at another examples of how this might work.

Problem A rectangular tank with a square base, an open top, and a volume of 8788 ft3 is to be constructed of sheet metal. Find the dimensions of the tank that has the minimum surface area.

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Sharing – The Google Way

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The Google belt.

Setting up collaborative teams and putting a project in place that encourages collaboration is just the start. The pressures of work, schedules, and family commitments conspire to draw student into a silent shell. They only care about getting homework assignments and papers done…collaborating is the furthest thing from their mind.

In the middle of a stressful semester, returning emails from fellow teammates are not the highest priority. Trying to collaborate on a document via email is even more challenging. If several students are working on the same document simultaneously and making changes, it is a nightmare to keep track of the changes. This is where a shared document can help.

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