#oldsmooc: asleep at the wheel of a a pdf

Learning Designers can’t do it all. Creating beautiful digital work, with an underlying narrative that links to age specific content, is a specialised field.
I’d like to share with you the best example I’ve come across.  Don’t stress about the mathematics, see if you can understand the message.
Let this video load, enlarge it to fill your screen, turn the sound up full blast, sit back and let it wash all over you.

Source: Cristóbal Vila

Every time I see this video I’m affected by it’s beauty and simplicity of message, from the Fibonacci Sequence to nautilus shells to sunflowers to dragonflies, relationships exist between mathematics and the natural world.

Cristóbal Vila’s message gives students a context in which to make sense of number patterns and geometry.

This exercise from a Year 7 textbook doesn’t.


The mathematics covered in Nature by Numbers ranges from simple to complex, something for everyone. It’s precise and works beautifully with music and 3D animation…how can all of that fall into the job description of a Learning Designer?

So, why am I carrying on about maths and number patterns?

Professor Grainne Conole initiated my thoughts after posting this excellent question during our Week 3 wrap up….

What is the relationship between precision and creativity in learning design?

I stopped, paused and read the recommended reference, all 17 pages in pdf format.

Beauty and Precision: Weaving Complex
Educational Technology Projects with Visual
Instructional Design Languages

 Micheal Derntl et al.

Ever had an experience of driving somewhere, of being aware when familiar places flash past, you know you are heading in the right direction but don’t remember the journey when you got there? I need to give this reference another chance, but heavy text and confusing diagrams just don’t do it for me. It’s content, however, I don’t want to let go.

Weaving this video into a discussion around beauty, precision, instructional design, learning design and education still leaves me with a messy vision of what we are trying to achieve in the #oldsmooc.

That’s great, suits me just fine, we still have 6 weeks to get it sorted.

Addendum: don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the removal of all pdf files containing academically rigorous content from the online courses we design. Far from it, lets push the boundaries of critical thinking…but please, don’t slap a course together with a truckload of content, available only in written form. Stimulate our senses with art, fill us with joy as we discover things we’ve never seen before and leverage the power of technology to take us beyond the walls of our institutions.

My advice…sign up for a diigo account and file those pdf’s away for future reference.

Embedding YouTube Videos

Vi Hart is by far the best Maths Doodler I’ve ever seen. Her series of videos “Doodling in Math Class” are a must see for Educators is search of a little pizzaz for their maths lessons.
Apart from introducing you to Vi Hart, another purpose of this brief post is to demonstrate the quick and easy way to embed any YouTube video into your wordpress.com website.

Pinching Myself

Warning, this post is a shameless self-promotion 🙂

Yep…that’s right.

In a bit over a year I’ve evolved from Elluminate novice to Blackboard-Collaborate presenter. With a bit of a shaky voice, a few too many “um’s” and several multi-tasking slipups, I survived two presentations this week.

First up was Tech Talk Tuesdays. I was delighted to be invited by Anne Mirtschin to make a presentation about using technology as a maths tutor.

Tech Talk Tuesdays

If you feel up to it, here is the recording.

Then, as my role of Challenge Mentor for the ePCop MOOC, I had a chat to some of the participants about using wordpress.com for their eportfolios.

#epcop Challenge Mentors Presentation

 Here’s the recording if you need a few tips about wordpress.com and blogging.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank three tireless and supportive educators, Junita Lyon, Carole McCulloch and Anne Mirtschin for giving me the opportunity to present online. Building a PLN and networking with educators is worth it’s weight in gold for one’s professional development. It’s a must for education reform.

Twitter Maths

It’s taken me 6 months to realise that twitter is a brilliant resource for educators. I’ve been justifying my use of twitter to my friends and family…..often I hear myself say “I’m developing my PLN” or “I’m onto some good teaching tips.”

Well, now there is more. I have found a pedagogically sound example of how to use twitter in a maths class. It’s called Twitter Venn, a program designed by Jeff Clark.

In maths the relationships between things can be represented visually, using Venn Diagrams. When one circle overlaps with another, students can see that there is something in common between the circles, and what they stand for.


This simple tool can be used in maths classes to introduce the topic of Venn Diagrams.

The search terms chocolate, milk and hot have been entered into the search window at the top of the page. That’s it…maths teachers can be confident that this tool is simple to use and bound to initiate some fascinating conversations on what people are talking about, around the world, at that point in time.

These Venn Diagrams are a visual way of representing the relationships between key words being used on Twitter.

Teachers can start a conversation about what the overlapping circles mean. From this image students can see that there is a lot of chatter about hot chocolate and chocolate milk, but not much about hot milk. They can then interpret why.

Another visual representation found in this tool is the word cloud. On the web page, click on any section of the circles and a word cloud will appear. The words are related to the search terms and their size reflects the frequency of use.

After discussing the hot chocolate milk scenario, students can then go and have heaps of fun by entering their own search terms.

What about cricket, football and Australia or facebook, student and study?

Expedition Titanic Begins

In less than 24 hours the ship RV Jean Charcot will leave St John’s harbor, Newfoundland. The ship’s 36 hour journey, to the site of the Titanic wreck, is just the beginning of an exciting expedition to “virtually raise” the Titanic.

RV Jean Charcot

The RV Jean Charcot by RMS Titanic, Inc

Over the last few weeks I have been following Expedition Titanic on Facebook and Twitter. Teachers, I challenge you to go straight to your IT departments and Principles and show them how Facebook can be used to engage students in real time, unique, scientifically based research that is relevant to their education. Rather than listening to their arguments about why you can’t access these social media sites at school, go and show them how, in this case, you can use it to your advantage.

Good luck and please leave a comment for me about how you go!


Why not take a detour from a regular maths lesson this week and take your students on a journey of discovery?

I scrolled through all of the posts on Expedition Titanic’s Facebook Wall and came up with a list of statements which include numbers. For each of these statements I have come up with a possible maths question. You may want to ask different questions depending on the age of your students, or perhaps ask the students to write their own maths questions for other class members to complete.

  1. The Titanic wreck was discovered on September 1st 1985. How many years ago was the Titanic wreck discovered?
  2. The wreck lies 963 miles north east of New York and 453 miles south east of the Newfoundland coastline. Convert these distances into kilometers and locate the wreck using Google Earth.
  3. The Titanic lies 2.5 miles below the ocean surface. In how many meters of deep water does the wreck lie?
  4. Less than 10% of the ocean has been explored by humans? Approximately what fraction of the ocean has not yet been explored by humans?
  5. 2.5 miles below the ocean surface is over 101 times the distance recreational divers dare to explore. At approximately what depth, then, are recreational divers happy to dive to?
  6. The Titanic was the largest ship built prior to 1912 and the largest moving object built by man. It was 882 feet and 9 inches long, nearly 4 city blocks long. How many meters are in 1 city block (approximately)?
  7. On the 9th of August 1856, Harry Markland Moleson was born. In 1912 he was the wealthiest Canadian passenger on the Titanic. How old was he when the Titanic sank in 1912?
  8. The most expensive one way ticket on the Titanic was US $4350 which would cost US $95000 today. How many more times expensive is the ticket in 2010 compared to 1912?
  9. It will take 36 hours for the Expedition Titanic ship to reach the wreck site. If the ship leaves Newfoundland at 5 am on Monday morning, at what time and day will it arrive?
  10. It is 59 degrees and cloudy in Newfoundland this morning. What UNIT is this temperature measured in and how many degrees Celsius is it?

Why not let your students keep an eye on the expedition’s Facebook page and ask them to create material for your next maths lesson?

Have fun with these questions and please let me know how you go.

Xtranormal Ramble

Teachers can have so much fun with this program Xtranormal. I came across this post , on Shelly Terrell’s blog, which has some great ideas for it’s use. Thinking it was about making games, I had a go at it last week and discovered that it taught me so much about animation and movie making instead. Have a look at my previous post to see the mediocre “Virtual Me”. The mind boggles when it comes to thinking about the work involved in making movies, such as Avatar. To take the whole process further, into making games, is fascinating.

Students of all ages may be interested in making games and/or playing games and after last week I am now armed with some great information to spread the word. I believe we need to be cautious though, to make sure that any games used in the curriculum have educational value and controlled usage. It is so easy to become “lost” in the virtual world where time just slips away as life goes on around you. When the dishes pile up and there’s washing all over the place, I know I’ve been lost for too long.

While on the subject of animation I’ve been wanting to show you “Nature by Numbers” for some time now. When the concept of Fibonacci numbers comes up in Maths, the kids often start yawning after listening to the teacher “talk” followed by the textbook exercises. During the talk I chat about these numbers and their significance in the extraordinary beauty of art and nature. It doesn’t stop the yawning. Do they really care about the connection between geometry and art, perfect proportions, golden ratio’s, nature’s number, sunflower seeds and nautilus shells? Maybe, for the more “mature” year 7″s, the perfect proportions of the human body can be of interest.

Anyway, I’m on a bit of a ramble today, but I want to show you this stunning video, by Cristobal Vila, Eterea Studios. Perhaps, if I showed it to my students before the teacher talk on Fibonacci numbers, they may be able to link that textbook exercise to the real world. The maths is complicated in places, but I think it can be shown to students of all ages.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGeOWYOFoA&hl=en_US&fs=1&hd=1]

Chocolate Is Best

Well, here are my Survey Monkey (test run) results. It seems that when stress is driving us crazy at work, we are a reasonably well behaved, chocolate loving group.

I used ZOHO SHEET to create the pie charts, a BAMBOO TABLET to write freehand and then used the snipping tool on my PC to make the image for posting.

I’ve had a good look at Zoho and found it to be visually pleasing and easy to use. It can be used for email, word processing, creating videos, collaborating with others, notebooks (like OneNote) etc, etc. It’s worth taking a look at.

My Bamboo Digital tablet is great fun to use and is ideal for online tutoring via Elluminate. Without some form of digital ink it would be so difficult to teach maths over the internet.

Overall, I found the whole experience of setting up a survey, collecting the results and creating graphs to be challenging and fun. As a maths and science teacher I can think of many occasions where these tools can be used in class. The students will enjoy doing it this way, especially if they can make a poster using GLOGSTER EDU.

Conclusion….chocolate is great for stress relief.

Where Did The Week Go?

The images in my last post are so vivid, they almost send you into the oil with the birds. The Web is such a powerful tool when it comes to instant, real time information that is immediately accessible to students and teachers.
On a lighter note….I enjoyed having a look at Survey Monkey and creating a survey myself. A tool like this is fun and I would certainly use it to collect data in Maths and Science lessons. When teaching statistics students need to be able conduct a survey, collect, analyse then present their results. Survey Monkey is an easy, intuitive tool to use. After collecting their results, students can complete the maths side of things then choose a presentation tool, such as Prezi, to share their findings with others.

If you wouldn’t mind, please complete my test run of Survey Monkey. Don’t worry, I plan to survey my PLN for more substantial data later.

Please click here to take the survey


Why Am I Here?

Good question. I’ve just read Tanya Roscorla’s “5 Reasons Why Educators Should Network” and can relate to everything she said…..but one reason really jumped out at me. Number 5…..yes, I am a burnt out maths and science teacher who is on leave to recharge her batteries. I’m not ready for the scrap heap yet and am soaking up all I can learn about new technologies. This article “the 6steps to effective learning” is also a good read. This video explains what a PLN is and using Twitter for developing a PLN.
I’d love to share this video about Pi with you as it is such a fantastic example of how maths can be presented in a different context on The Web. It combines maths, music, art and media. Enjoy….(hope I can figure out how to put it into my blog)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icrjzF3zl5A]