As I work through the readings for the DOOO faculty initiative, I keep coming back to the idea of teaching mathematics content. This time, I’ve been thinking more about an on-line version of a course I have been teaching for many years. That course covers more advanced topics in discrete mathematics (graph theory and enumeration, mostly). I have trouble wrapping my head around how I would teach this content in an on-line environment. But as I’ve been thinking, I keep coming back to another idea that’s been stewing in my head ever since I attended a COPLAC meeting about 3 years ago.
At that meeting, I learned of a course taught at UNC Asheville titled “Reality Math.” The speaker told us about the various (not on-line) modules that she developed for the course covering topics ranging from a cost analysis of electric cars, to a careful understanding of interest and debt, to an analysis of nutritional content of soft drinks. All of this was handled in a very ‘quantitative’ manner. So, basically, she took contemporary topics of interest to students (and, probably, the general population), and looked at them from a purely numerical standpoint. In other words, what do the numbers say? Does this thing I’ve been doing over and over again for years make any sense when I look at “the numbers”? I feel like I’m getting somewhere with this idea. I’m hoping to sit down with one of my colleagues in DTLT sometime soon and pound out ideas on how to implement this on-line.