March 26 Day 383: Wonders of Technology

Today I did something that would have seemed inconceivable before our technology boost during the pandemic— I gave three (technically four) different presentations in two different states without leaving the comfort of my own home. I pride myself on my interactive presentations regardless of the audience. Making the transition to virtual is challenging. So to up my interactivity game I tried out numerous technologies throughout, including:

  • Zoom with breakout rooms (of course)
  • Desmos Teacher activities (including an entire presentation in Desmos with surveys, free response, card matching, and more)
  • Padlet
  • Limnu
  • Interactive Google slides with fill in the matrix and graph creation problems.

Presentation #1: An Active Approach to Active Learning for the Missouri MAA Section NExT participants.

Perhaps the most ambitious presentation of the day. This one was presented entirely in Desmos. Not knowing what technologies the group already knew or were interested in seeing, I started with a quick multiple choice to pick our path:

Notice the anonymized names are mathematicians. Some are classical. Some are current. You know you have reached the pinnacle of success when your name is used to anonymize users in Desmos! As you can see, the group chose padlet—mostly because it was new to the crowd, because it is a free tool, and maybe because it was the most colorful.

I tried a card sort activity for the first time. I could easily image using it to match up left and right sides of equalities in a review session. It worked for the activity as planned but the “key” wasn’t as cut and dry as this page would imply.

Desmos is great for think-pair-square share (AKA 1-2-4-all). Since participants can type their responses first before beginning a discussion with their breakout room team. (It also gives them something to do while the host figures out the breakout room configuration.)

Most common responses were student buy-in; time/time management; large variety of skill levels, and instructor buy-in.

The final activity was to reflect and commit. I think I made a few Desmos Teach converts in the crowd!

People stayed afterwards and wanted to experience the first activity in Limnu (rather than Padlet) for comparison. We chatted for quite a while after the presentation had ended comparing shared whiteboards and teaching notes.

Presentation #2: Digraphs and Determinants: Determinants via Determined Ants as closing plenary speaker at Missouri Section MAA.

I’ve given this talk before—mostly in person. My favorite venue is a room with round tables so participants can easily collaborate on the worksheet and I can wander around the room providing clues and encouragement. The first time I gave it remotely was a little bit of a disaster. But its gotten better with every iteration.

I used a PowerPoint presentation supplemented with Google Slides for active engagement.

The master slides were view only. With the most important page:

After giving instructions, attendees were sent breakout rooms of 3-4 people. Depending on their room number, they could click on the link and join an editable presentation where the room could collaborate on the problems. I think some of the faculty enjoyed playing with the Google slides and didn’t particularly want to return to my presentation. I got to visit some breakout rooms but there wasn’t enough time to visit them all. (Sound familiar?) The most important thing I learned was to take the slide image and make it the slide background. Then participants can drawn over the image without accidentally moving a picture.

Applying the definition to complete the entries in the matrix for the associated (acyclic) digraph.

Presentation #3: Standing in for MAA Section Representative at the business meeting.

I ran through the MAA slide deck on what’s new and important at MAA. I modified the opening slide so their Representative, Jeffrey Poet, Missouri Western State University, could officially welcome them.

Take home: MathFest is virtual and there are incredible speakers. There will be more support for Sections moving forward. Lots of great stuff is happening online at MAA Connect, the Math Values blog, and other virtual programming.

Presentation #4: Solving Mathematical Mysteries for the Math Club at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Time to change gears and change time zones. From Central time to Alaska time. I thought the turnout was terrific and there were several people with cameras on and reacting (even visibly laughing at my corny jokes.) What a treat!

I really wanted to use an advanced screen share where the powerpoint slides becomes the background of my zoom window.

The problem is that method does not respect screen “animations”. I promise I only make use of “Appear:”

But I do use it frequently.

Some day I will get to try this cool feature in real life. Today was fun for sure. I especially liked geeking out over 3D printing during the questions afterwards.

I must admit that my nervous energy has worn off and I am crashing fast. But what a day! Mapping my virtual destinations amounts to 7,520 miles saved (or an estimated at 129 hours driving). Technology is indeed a wonder.

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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