February 17 Day 346: The Season of Spring Meetings

The coming weekend marks the first of many MAA Section Meetings to be held this “Spring”. Both the Florida Section (February 19-20) and the Golden Section (representing Northern California, Northern Nevada, and Hawaii, February 26-27) are typically held early in the meeting season. I think, so they can boast about their beautiful and temperate weather.

I spent tonight refining an invited talk for the Florida Section, which is a virtual. Much like teaching, I need to figure out how to change what I do in person to engage the audience remotely in the virtual space.

In the ‘before’ when I gave this talk, I had full color handouts. I asked participants to work together throughout the presentation in small groups of their own choosing . As they tackled new prompts, I often wandered the room, eavesdropping on progress, and answering questions. That’s not going to fly in the remote setting.

So handouts have become Google slides where the gray boxes can be typed into and there is a supply of colored vertices to drag and connect to create directed graphs. Here are two examples:

I went so far as to put the static content on the slide background so that no one can accidentally change or move that information. They can scribble on top of it, enter text into gray boxes, and drag vertices. I’m pretty excited to see how it works.

The remaining question is how to give access to the virtual handout and break people into groups. It partly depends on how many people are in attendance. I’ve asked for the preregistration numbers to help me plan. If there are less than 100 people, I can duplicate slides within the main presentation and have everyone on the same document. If there are more than 100 people, I will need more than one document. In that case, I will likely have a separate document for each breakout room. To ensure a smooth transition from the main room to breakout rooms, I need another Google slide with links to each document by room number. I’m going to wait for an answer to my email query before making a final decision. According to their countdown timer, I’ve still got some time.

The following weekend I plan to visit the Golden section meeting to hear some friends talk, wander the virtual mathematical art exhibition, and hang out in Gather! I’m excited to see what their space looks like.

The MAA has 29 sections. So far I have been an invited speaker at 24 of them. I still have the Golden, Rocky Mountain, Southern, Texas, and Kansas sections to complete this bucket list. Visiting the Golden Section virtually doesn’t get me closer to my goal but maybe I can plan a seed that can blossom into an invitation sometime over the next three years.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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