Category Archives: Software

January 9, 2012, 12:53 pm

My three weeks with an iPad

Over the break, I had the opportunity to experiment with an iPad 2 that my department has purchased. The department is loaning the iPad out to faculty for two weeks at a time to see if there is a compelling educational use for the device with our students — in which case, I’m assuming we will try to buy more. As tech-obsessed as I am, this is the first time I’ve had to spend time with an iPad, and here are my impressions.

As a piece of high technology, the iPad is pretty marvelous. I’ve been an iPhone 4 user for some time now, so the beauty of the iOS user interface ought to be commonplace for me, but it isn’t. I can see why Apple marketed it as a “magical” device when it first came out. It certainly has the look and feel of magic. I enjoyed using it (and so did my kids, even though they were not technically supposed to be handling it).

But I always approach technology, especially…

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February 11, 2011, 8:00 am

Computers, the Internet, and the Human Touch

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editin...

Image via Wikipedia

This article first appeared earlier this week on the group blog Education Debate at OnlineSchools.org. I’m one of the guest bloggers over there now and will be contributing articles 1–2 times a month. I’ll be cross-posting those articles a couple of days after they appear. You’d enjoy going to Education Debate for a lively and diverse group of bloggers covering all kinds of educational issues.

It used to be that in order to educate more than a handful of people at the same time, schools had to herd them into large lecture halls and utilize the skills of lecturers to transmit information to them. Education and school became synonymous in this way. Lectures, syllabi, assessments, and other instruments of education were the tightly-held property of the universities.

But that’s changing. Thanks to a…

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March 12, 2010, 7:38 am

ICTCM underway

It’s a beautiful day here on the shores of Lake Michigan as the ICTCM gets underway. It’s a busy day and — to my never-ending annoyance — there is no wireless internet in the hotel. So I won’t be blogging/tweeting as much as I’d like. But here’s my schedule for the day.

  • 8:30 – Keynote address.
  • 9:30 – Exhibits and final preparations for my 11:30 talk.
  • 10:30 – “Developing Online Video Lectures for Online and Hybrid Algebra Courses”, talk by Scott Franklin of Natural Blogarithms.
  • 11:10 – “Conjecturing with GeoGebra Animations”, talk by Garry Johns and Tom Zerger.
  • 11:30 – My talk on using spreadsheets, Winplot, and Wolfram|Alpha|Alpha in a liberal arts calculus class, with my colleague Justin Gash.
  • 12:30 – My “solo” talk on teaching MATLAB to a general audience.
  • 12:50 – “Programming for Understanding: A Case Study in Linear Algebra”, talk by Daniel Jordan.
  • 1:30 – “Over a Decade of…

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June 28, 2008, 12:27 pm

Jott as a diction-checking device

I’ve blogged before about Jott, the web service which lets you call in and leave a voice message, and then it transcribes it to text and emails it to you or others you want to contact. I use Jott quite often in lieu of a voice recorder for quick thoughts that might be actionable. When I want to catch an idea, I get my cell phone, hit “5″ on the speed dial to call Jott, then talk through my message. A few moments later, I get a transcribed version in my GMail inbox which then gets reviewed at my next GTD weekly review.

Jott’s capabilities as a speech-to-text converter are impressive, but it’s not perfect. When I get a mis-transcription, sometimes I wonder whether it’s Jott’s fault or whether it’s something having to do with how clearly I am speaking. Take this recent message for instance. I had just finished teaching a section on exponential growth and decay in my calculus class that me…

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June 9, 2008, 7:16 am

Rapture 2.0

We’ve all wondered from time to time, “Suppose the Rapture happened tomorrow, and some of my loved ones got left behind. How could I be sure I could send them Gospel tracts and personal information after I’ve been taken up to Heaven?” Well, wonder no longer: for just $40 per year, you can use this new web service to upload up to 250 MB of documents and 62 individual email addresses to send them to in case of the Rapture. (Or rather, in case you get Raptured and your friends — or at least the people you think are your friends — don’t.)

Here’s how it works:

We have set up a system to send documents by the email [sic], to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe [sic] any false triggering of the system.

We give you 150mb …

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March 8, 2008, 8:38 am

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 …

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March 7, 2008, 1:38 pm

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…

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February 6, 2008, 3:11 pm

Bento and GTD?

This blog has gotten a lot of search engine hits lately from queries of the form “Bento GTD”. I guess that’s because I wrote about Bento once and I have written a lot about GTD. And while I was demo-ing Bento, once or twice it crossed my mind that an intrepid person could possibly hack it into a GTD platform. But it appears like there is some kind of movement out there for using Bento for GTD. (Or maybe just one person who can’t stop hitting the “Submit” button on his search engine.) Would one of you folks who are searching along these lines mind filling us in on this, in the comments?

I found Bento to be merely OK — more pretty than useful, and I was able to cobble together what I really needed (a searchable, rich-text repository of information on my students) using VoodooPad Lite, which is free. I didn’t think Bento was worth the $79 $49 price tag. But I’m cheap, so that’s not…

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February 5, 2008, 10:18 am

Ed tech for commuter students

The ICTCM is coming up fast, and I’ll be there, mostly to give a talk on using wikis in upper-level math courses (like this one from my topics course in Cryptology) and take a minicourse on Camtasia. But I’ll also be checking out the latest and greatest (?) ideas and products in educational technology. One general category I am quite interested in is making all this technology that we use — especially computer algebra systems — portable and accessible from all different locations, in particular so that commuter students aren’t left out of the loop.

The fact that commuter students are left out is a growing concern for me, at least. We have Derive and Maple installed on my campus, but it’s a network install — and you have to be on campus to use it. Some campuses have a network installation that works from off campus, but we (and other places like us) also have a network that cannot be …

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January 21, 2008, 9:05 pm

Some short tech updates

My two weeks of poring through tenure and promotion portfolios, and writing recommendation letters for those up for tenure or promotion or annual review, are finally over with. It actually ended up being two weeks + 1 day. And those portfolio reviews, far from being dull, gave me tons of material that I would love to blog about — and never can. Oh well.

So I’m going to get back on the posting bandwagon slowly, starting with a three little tech-related  mini-posts.

maple-95.png1. I have finally got Maple 10 up and operational on my Macbook running  Leopard.  As I have written about before, this has been an issue from the day I installed Leopard. And it’s been an issue for many others as well, judging by the number of search engine referrals from queries like “Maple 10 Leopard FUBAR” or something similar. For some reason, the advice given in this email actually worked, although I had to do some …

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