Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

There IS still Space

If you’re hoping to go to the MCC Math & Technology Workshop, we’re not full yet!  Remember, we doubled the number of seats for this year (we are a little over HALF-full now).  The workshop is Aug 8-12, 2011.

So, if you want to attend, you can find all the details and register here.

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Using Math to Understand the Future

Futurist Peter Bishop was one of the keynote presenters at MichMATYC 2010 this year.  He spoke to us about what a futurist does, and shifted our paradigms about how to look at data trends to one that is more mindful of the cone of plausibility.  Don’t know what that is? Well, watch the talk!  If you don’t have a lot of time, then watch the last 20 minutes.  You can also get the slides here.

If you’re interested in the other sessions at MichMATYC 2010, many of the slide decks are posted in the Resources Tab of the MichMATYC 2010 Website.

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Speaking Schedule for AMATYC 2010

AMATYC 2010 is coming up this week in Boston.  I am scheduled to present/speak four times during AMATYC:

Thursday 10-11am Participating in a panel Discussion on the use of Social Media

Thursday 12:30-2pm Playing to learn Algebra? (presentation sponsored by Cengage Learning in the St. Botolph Room)

Friday 10:30-1:30pm ITLC Themed Session (I’ll be speaking about Learning Projects for Math)

Saturday 10:45-11:35 How can we measure Teaching & Learning in Math?

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2011 MCC Math & Technology Workshop

Enough volunteers have stepped forward to allow us to go forward with a 2011 Math & Technology Workshop.  This will be the fourth year running for this workshop, which (for the record) is run entirely by volunteers.  The dates will be August 8-12, 2011.

We will only do ONE LEVEL this year, Math Technology Bootcamp, but this will free up space for more participants at this level than in previous years (45 instead of 27).  I’m announcing this now so that you can a) clear your schedule, b) clear your funding, and c) fight with your colleagues over who gets to go.  We will open registration for the conference on Wednesday, November 10, 2011 at Noon EDT.

Only one participant per college may register in the first round.  Last year, Math Technology Bootcamp booked up (with a waiting list) in 8 days.

The costs (based on last year) are $150 registration, $65 per night for lodging (at conference hotel), and your standard food and travel expenses.

Comments from the 2010 Workshop:

The MCC Math and Tech Bootcamp is an outstanding week in which you gain a huge amount of knowledge in relation to math and technology. The cost of $150 is minimal in the amount of information presented/given to you at the workshop. It is a MUST DO workshop!

It is by far the best workshop out there. You cannot get better value anywhere. You really are “immersed” in the technology, and shown directly how it is related to math.

It was the longest (in terms of duration) workshop I have ever attended. But, it was the most interesting, educational, inspiring, and most helpful. By trying as you learn about technology, is the best way to gain familiarity.

Get on the technology school bus. This training is very crucial to the changing classroom. It was the BEST of any training, well worth all time and cost. Don’t be the one who gets on at the last stop.

I did not get funding for this workshop — but it was by far the best workshop I’ve attended. It was well worth my investment in money, time and travel.

This workshop has given me tools that I can see myself using every day to enhance the understanding of my students.

No other workshop brings you in contact with so many different ways of presenting material using technology, and gives you the opportunity to practice what you learn. Apart from that, the free software is definitely a added bonus, and the close contact with colleagues from around the country (and the world) allows for a lot of exchange of ideas.

This workshop provided so much food for thought that I’ll be feasting for months. The campus, the scenery, the camaraderie – it’s all amazing. But the ideas, the new knowledge – and the organization of it all – was priceless.

Again, the website (with all the details) is here: 2011 MCC Math & Technology Workshop.

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World Future Society Conference 2010

This is the 3rd year I’ve attended the WFS Conference and it’s a difficult event to describe.  You might imagine a collection of Nostradamus-like individuals, making predictions about the future, and I’ll admit it; this conference does have a larger proportion of older, bearded men than most conferences I attend.  However, the vast majority of attendees are completely serious professionals who are in the business of making informed predictions and hedging bets against uncertainty.  All of us participate in futuring – at least all of us that have ever made a budget or participated in some kind of strategic planning. The difference between your futuring and the futuring that these folks do is that they’ve gone the extra mile to learn the tools of long-term foresight planning.

What follows are the snippets of wisdom (mostly from tweets) that I collected at this year’s WFS Conference.

WFS: Scenario Building Workshop (Adam Gordon, @FutureSavvy)

Scenario planning is used when your institution is not governed by “well-behaved change.”  The idea is not to make a single prediction about what will happen in the future, but to explore the options, looking for commonalities in the cone of plausibility.

  • If you’d like to see the slides from the Scenario Planning workshop, here’s a link to a 2008 version of Adam Gordon’s presentation.
  • Well-behaved change happens in predictable environments: information rich, not prone to technology upheavals, well-established markets, stable players, high barriers to entry, a stable regulatory environment, consistent demand, or no great social pressures.
  • Badly behaved change: uncertain technology evolution, uncertain demand for products/services, uncertain performance of new business models, unstable macro-economic conditions (inflation, interest rates), shifting values, shifting morals, shifting preferences, shifting regulations.
  • Scenario planning is NOT determining the most likely outcome & planning for it, it IS assuming every important outcome might occur, and planning the best business options for each case.

WFS: Education Summit

I have hopes for what the WFS Education Summit could be … but it’s not there yet.  The problem is that the Education Summit is a mix of K-12/Higher Ed folks with no clear direction about whether the discussion is about teaching futuring skills or predicting the future of education and technology related to education.  Personally, I think that many conferences look at the “edge of learning” – what’s going to happen.  The specialty at the WFS Conference should be on linking educators who teach aspects of futuring skills in their educational programs.

With that in mind, here are some resources and links about Foresight/Futuring Education that might be helpful to you or your college:

If what you are looking for is really how to prepare graduates FOR the future, or introduce skills that will withstand the rapidly-shifting job market of the future, then you might find these links helpful:

WFS: Humans 2020 (Ramez Naam, @ramez)

  • Presentation on Humans in 2020 by @ramez can be found here.
  • It is acceptable in society to bring someone who is below the human baseline up to the baseline.  It is societally unacceptable to take someone AT (or above) the human baseline of intelligence and enhance it further.
  • It is considered socially acceptable to use medical intervention to improve lower cognitive abilities or to combat loss of cognitive function (especially as you age).
  • The same biological discoveries that cure disease are also the ones that can enhance humans. Power to heal = power to enhance.
  • Our genome is basically digital – it encodes us with a finite number of “bits” (ATCG). A gene sequencing facility looks like a server farm for a data center.
  • How much of who you are is coded by your genes? See slide #39.  [really, you should go look, it's shocking!]
  • Wouldn’t it suck if your parents make genetic decisions for you (code you for an artist) … but then you’re bitter your whole life.
  • Prediction: Parents WILL readily opt to do genetic manipulation to remove diseases.
  • Shuddering at the thought of a virus to carry genetic modification in adults. At the same time, if I can have a faster metabolism …

WFS: Internet Evolution (@Pew_Internet)

  • Two-thirds of adults are now using the cloud for something in their life. 61% of those adults are on social networks.
  • Bandwidth doubles every 2 years, but I would argue that it only doubles for those that already have it. The haves/have not gap widens.
  • Bumper stickers about the future of the Internet: The cloud is the 3rd phase of the Internet. -Mike Nelson [would love the rest of these, but I couldn't catch them fast enough and there were no slides or visuals to make it easier]
  • Nelson recommends reading “Let IT rise” from the Economist (subscription required).  You can get part of “Let IT rise” (Economist article) free here.
  • The cloud is going to be the platform that enables the Internet of things.  We will have 100s of net-connected devices. -Mike Nelson [... once again, what about the population that lacks broadband internet?]
  • Most of this presentation was simply results published on the Pew Research Center website (they have an RSS feed if you click on Subscribe in the upper right-hand corner). If you’ve never read their reports, you should start.

WFS: Building the Human Mind (Ray Kurzweil)

  • Note: You’ve probably seen Ray Kurzweil on TED Talks: How Technology Will Transform Us.  If not, go watch that, this was a more up-to-date version of that talk.
  • Whether you agree with the coming singularity or not, the research is certainly interesting.  If you go to KurzweilAI you can subscribe to receive all the links to the latest scientific research that support the eventual interface between humans and technology.  Prepare for the singularitweets. ;)  #
  • So many mentions of the exponential curves of invention … it’s so nice to hear in a presentation when you teach math. #wf10 # As a matter of fact, you could easily play a game of “Math Bingo” where you count the number of times the words exponential, log-log plots, or linear are used in a Kurzweil presentation.
  • How long do you go without updating the software you use? But we haven’t updated our genes in 1000 years.
  • “If this is all going to happen anyways, why don’t we sit back, party and let it happen .. because of course, then it WON’T happen.”
  • “The tools of disruptive change, in every field, are in everybody’s hands … FB, Google, all started by couple kids with laptops.”
  • Very cool animation on “The Law of Accelerating Returns” that takes us through history of technology. Wonder if it’s on the web? Anyone know?
  • Kurzweil is using a slide deck, but many of the slides are a mix of static images with an CG animation. Seamless and very cool. However, I’m not sure if the animations are distracting … do I stop listening when there’s an animation to watch? Hmmm.
  • I wonder if Kurzweil has a graph of the average amount of information we have to process as adults in each decade of human existence.
  • “Ignoring exponential progression would be a mistake [speaking about photovoltaic technologies]
  • In 15 years, according to models, we will be adding 1 year of life expectancy every year.
  • Kurzweil slides at and in a truly old-fashioned way, they will DOWNLOAD to your computer when you go there instead of bringing you to a site where they just play.  They wouldn’t OPEN on my computer, but I can confirm that they did download.

WFS: Levers of Change in Higher Education (Maria H. Andersen, @busynessgirl)

Thanks WFS staff for letting me do a fill-in presentation for a cancelled session. I am grateful for the opportunity to reach a wider audience!

WFS: The Future of Men and Women (Karen Moloney)

  • Housework is feminism’s final frontier. Very unequal distribution in the U.S.
  • Thought experiment: What would happen if there was a sex-specific pandemic?
  • Note: I’m not sure how much information I got from the talk, but it was well-designed and entertaining.  Plus I got a book suggestion to get the information I want. :)

WFS: Future of Faith: Conflict or Creativity (panel)

  • Cosmodeism: Evolution of the cosmos creates God- not God created the cosmos-that’s the proposition advanced by Tsvi Bisk (who made me flashback to sermons I listened to in my youth).
  • Some of the graphs about religion are available at AtlasOfGlobalChristianity (go to sample pages). They are great and I wonder if they’ve considered putting the data through Gapminder?  I think all libraries should buy this book – it is a great resource, but mere mortals? It might be out of our price range.
  • Did the influence of television shift the culture of religion? Good question. We’ll have to include this in our themed studies this fall.
  • Really enjoyed Rex Miller’s part of the Future of Faith talk, where he discussed the four “Ages” of religion: Oral, Print, Broadcast, and Digital [good speaker and presentation, would recommend]
  • How will religious groups get things done in the future? For 500 years we’ve relied on the institutional structure to get things done. The new “institution” is collaboration. The adaptive challenge will be dealing with the loss of the “institution”
  • Thought: Professional organizations are built around physical institutions (at least physical conferences) What does this shift mean for them?

WFS: Future of Academia (Bryan Alexander)

  • Unfortunately, I have no tweets from this talk, which was great.  I lent my WiFi to Bryan and didn’t want to burden the signal by using it myself.
  • Five Visions for Liberal Arts Campus (Scnearios) – which is a great thought experiment for those of you planning for the future of Higher Education (the prezi is here)
  • NITLE Predictions Market

Books, etc.

Just for Fun (other suggestions)


The thing that makes the WFS conference so unique is that you are interacting with people from all over the world and from all sorts of different disciplines and professions.  In the same room at any presentation there are educators, military personnel, scientists, technology experts, authors, press representatives, students, business leaders, religious leaders, and of course, professional futurists.  The space between presentations is roomy (usually 30 minutes or more) and the conversations that you find yourself wandering in to are incredibly stimulating.  This year, I had several conversations that will push me to do even more reading and video watching (especially at the Acceleration Studies Foundation (ASF) Archive … not even sure how to BEGIN here).

Final Thoughts

I attended three game design conferences this year, and the presenters are starting to have this tradition of making the second slide the games they’ve been playing recently.  In all seriousness, at WFS, I think the second slide should be the Science Fiction you’ve been reading recently.   After my experiences last year at WFS 2009, I wasn’t sure I would come back – the conversations and networking had been great, but the presentations in the general conference were mostly “misses.”  However, at WFS 2010, most of the presentations I attended were “hits” so I’m thinking that I’ll probably find a way to attend (and hopefully present) at WFS in Vancouver, July 8-10  in 2011.

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MichMATYC 2010


The Fall 2010 MichMATYC Conference will be at Muskegon Community College on October 15-16, 2010.  If you live in the Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin area, this may be a conference you can drive to.  The conference is very affordable, at $35 for registration and $65 per night for hotel.

Our theme this year is “Update Your M.I.O.S. (Math Instructor Operating System).”  You can find more information about the conference on the website.

There are several FREE Technology Workshops on Friday:

  • Camtasia Basics
  • Wolfram Alpha Workshop
  • Camtasia Advanced Editing (captioning, quizzing, etc.)
  • Using the Internet to Spice Up Your Math Class

The Call for Proposals is available here (due April 26, 2010).

Also of note, we can provide wireless Internet for all participants, and a wide variety of technology for presenters (well, except for overhead projectors – you’ll have to use a document camera instead).   Please consider coming up to Michigan to join us in October!

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Mental Reboot

I’m about to leave on a five-day mental reboot: no computer, no Internet, no cell phone, and lots of sunshine and pleasure reading.  For the last month I’ve been feeling kind of drained of energy and motivation, and a vacation away from all my high-level thinking and technology obligations sounded like a good idea.

While I was feeling kind of unproductive and slug-like, I began reflecting on what I have done this year.  This is my version of a Year in Review.




  • Attended Edward Tufte Course in Indianapolis August 24
  • Built new mindmap: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
  • Presentation to faculty on my campus on August 27
  • Wrote technology column, Jing and Math, for MathAMATYC Educator (September 2009)
  • Webinar for ITC (Organize Your Digital Self) on Sept 22
  • Final push for completion of new book: Algebra Activities, 1000 pages (August-October 2009)



Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 140 blog posts published on this site in the last year. (Wow! That was a LOT of writing!)  You can view collections of some of my favorite posts about general topics, about math, and about Wolfram|Alpha while I am away from the digital world on a vacation mental-reboot in Punta Cana.

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2010 MCC Math & Technology Workshop

UPDATE: At this point, there are four seats left for the Explorer level, and plenty left for the others.  If you want to send someone from your school, make sure to send us an email soon. We will be taking a waitlist for this workshop, and when all is said and done, several folks for the waitlist DO make it into the workshop every year.

It’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for.  Registration for the 3rd annual MCC Math & Technology Workshop will begin in 10 days.  The workshop will be held (as always) at Muskegon Community College in Muskegon, Michigan.

As always, I have to thank our AWESOME sponsors for the 2010 workshop (without these companies and organizations there would be no workshop):

workshop_sponsorsYou can participate in this week-long workshop at three levels:

Technology Explorers: This week-long workshop is designed to assist college mathematics instructors to get up-to-date on technology for teaching mathematics and to begin to participate in Web-based instruction. The workshop will cover a wide variety of topics and skills all related to teaching mathematics with technology and the Internet. Participants will go back to their campus with a plan for how they will incorporate technology into their teaching. Participants will also receive free copies of some of the software they have learned how to use. 2010 graduates will receive Camtasia Studio, SnagIt, Mathematica, MathType, USB headsets, and Wacom peripheral tablets! Registration fee is $150. There are 26 spaces available.

Technology Adventurers: The advanced workshop is designed for instructors who already have quite a bit of technology experience, or for returning participants. We take a look at designing digital presentations in a variety of forms, social networking, blogs, virtual worlds, and much more. Advanced participants have about half of their time free to work on projects of their own choosing. Advanced workshop graduates will receive Camtasia Studio, SnagIt, and Mathematica. Registration fee is $100. There are 26 spaces available.

Technology Navigators: Many participants from past workshops have expressed an interest in returning for the week just to hang out and work on their own projects. We can provide quiet spaces for you to work (and soundproof ones if you’d like to record videos). We’d love to have you back, but we also need your help to pass on what you’ve learned and to keep this workshop going. Registration fee is $50 with 4 hours of volunteering, or free with 8 hours of volunteering. (Limit? How many of you want to come?)

Workshop Director: Maria H. Andersen, Muskegon Community College
Assistant Director: Elizabeth Hamman, Cypress College
Mathematica Training: Debra Woods, University of Illinois – Champaign

This workshop is both awesome training and a fantastically good time.  To read about last year’s workshop, go here. Many participants pay out of their own pocket to attend because there’s nothing else quite like it.  I look forward to meeting this year’s crop of participants!

For directions on how to get pre-registered on November 13, or for information on travel & lodging  go to the workshop website.  We will do our best to chase away the freak thunderstorms this year!

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Best of the Ed Tech Freebies

The economy is slumping and so is your department budget. Luckily for you, lots of programs can be used for free! Use the resources in this presentation to tackle the technology problems that haunt you – online office hours, course design, avatars, surveys, image-sharing, video-capture, mind maps, website-building, and much more.

Best of the Ed Tech Freebies AMATYC 2009

You can access all the links for all the programs in a Zumlink here.

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Wolfram|Alpha: Recalculating Teaching & Learning

My talk today at the 2009 International Mathematica User Conference:

For at least a decade, we have had the ability to let CAS software perform computational mathematics, yet computational skills are still a large portion of the mathematics curriculum. Enter Wolfram|Alpha. Unlike traditional CAS systems, Wolfram|Alpha has trialability: Anyone with Internet access can try it and there is no cost. It has high observability: Share anything you find with your peers using a hyperlink.  It has low complexity: You can use natural language input and, in general, the less you ask for in the search, the more information Wolfram|Alpha tends to give you. Diffusion of innovation theories predict that these features of Wolfram|Alpha make it likely that there will be wide-spread adoption by students. What does this mean for math instructors?

This could be the time for us to reach out and embrace a tool that might allow us to jettison some of the computational knowledge from the curriculum, and give math instructors greater flexibility in supplemental topics in the classroom. Wolfram|Alpha could help our students to make connections between a variety of mathematical concepts. The curated data sets can be easily incorporated into classroom examples to bring in real-world data. On the other hand, instructors have valid concerns about appropriate use of Wolfram|Alpha. Higher-level mathematics is laid on a foundation of symbology, logic, and algebraic manipulation. How much of this “foundation” is necessary to retain quantitative savvy at the higher levels? Answering this question will require us to recalculate how we teach and learn mathematics.

There are two videos embedded in the slideshow. You should be able to click on the slide to open the videos in a anew web browser. However, if you’d just like to watch the video demos, here are direct links:

Note that I’ve turned ON commenting for these two video demonstrations and I will try to load them into YouTube later this weekend.

There are several other posts about Wolfram|Alpha that you may want to check out:

If you were at the live version of this talk, and you would like to rate the presentation, you can do so here at SpeakerRate.

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