[Numeracy 477] Re: More on-line/Friday Puzzle

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Susan Jones SUJones at parkland.edu
Mon Aug 9 14:06:37 EDT 2010

It's Monday here, now, 'cause last week I was still on our four-day-workweek summer schedule, so I thank *you* for amending the subject heading :)

There are lots of different issues involved in the "is online learning effective" question. I'm thinking back to assorted research projects designed to determine whether or not computer programs were "better" than live teaching, as if all programs were equivalent to each other and, likewise, all teachers... oh, and of course the students were, too.

Most of the online computer programs I've worked with are extremely focused on procedure (ModuMath is a striking exception). THey sort of have some "diagnostic" capabilities in their assessments, since the programs break skills down into fairly small increments, but I haven't come across one that can analyze an error pattern. However, that's not to say it can't be done or isn't worth pursuing.

In the meantime, though, students are floundering and variables are confounding. Some students find a computer *less* anxiety inducing, since most programs don't send signals of impatience or astonishment-at-what-you-don't-know...( though since I have watched students manage to interpret any human communication as negative when it wasn't, I'm sure the human psyche can do the same with computer responses). Lots more students find the computer interface one more layer of abstraction and a further barrier to comprehension.

I think that individually planned practice with software that incorporates all kinds of concrete references could reap amazing results. Imagine being able to click on a fraction and see a physical representation of the quantity (as opposed to pencil scratches with more symbols abotu "how to do it"), and perhaps click on the operation sign and see an example of the action with a similar problem so that s/he could determine whether or nto this was a time for a common denominator or not.

Online programs are tools... it would behoove us to design good ones, but not just hand the power tools over to people who don't know where to plug 'em in.

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Center for Academic Success
Parkland College
Champaign, IL 61821
sujones at parkland.edu

>>> "Istas, Brooke" <IstasB at cowley.edu> 8/6/2010 10:48 AM >>>

It's Friday!!

I love hearing everyone's thoughts about on-line education for developmental mathematics students. Thank you to the subscribers who have posted your thoughts and please continue to post more on this topic. I know that our community college utilizes a content rich program that has embedded videos of instruction and animation, works example problems, and will even work the problem given but then will assign a different problem to the learner. But, as many of you have pointed out it isn't perfect at assessing comprehension. As I mentioned yesterday, all the emotions a learner feels when doing math impact their learning. In a face-to-face, an instructor can observe and manage a learner's non-verbal cues; which then translate into "knowing" the learner. However, if an instructor isn't physically can this be accomplished? Is it possible for an on-line instructor to truly "know" their students as well as a face-to-face instructor? What needs to be in place for a learner to "bond" with their instructor whom they will never physically see?

Just some thoughts....

I have my opinions and I would love to hear yours.

Have a great weekend, try to say cool if you are one of the many states enjoying the HOT weather!

Brooke Istas

Puzzle of the day - Since I am in Vegas this weekend let's do a probability puzzle:

Suppose you are dealt 7 cards from a standard deck of cards (52 cards), how many ways can you obtain four of a kind? (Four of a kind means - 4 cards of the same value and 3 card of a different value)