Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ADA and Hyperlinks

You know how sometimes you let a question linger in the background until one day you decide to just deal with it?  This is one of those questions that rose to the top because I knew that I should know the answer definitively before the MCC Math & Technology Workshop started.

Here’s the question:  If you’re making a hyperlink and you leave the title or alternate tag blank, will the text-to-speech readers automatically just default to the text you’ve linked to?  For example, suppose your hyperlink is on the words “brief twitter guide”.  Without any extra tagging, will this get read aloud as “brief twitter guide” or do I have to retype it into the secondary tags?  Obviously, creating a hyperlink to text like “click here” would really suck for visually impaired users unless you included alternate titles and alternate text.  So the question is really whether the alternate or title tags are redundant when you already have good hyperlink practices.

Image showing hyperlink example as described above.

The answer (from @suburbanlion) is that it is just redundant.  If the original hyperlink is descriptive in the same way the alt tag would be, there is no need to do both.  He provided me with a great resource to check on these types of issues, Dive into Accessibility (Day 14 covers adding titles to links), although it is a little old.

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Agonizing eBook Reader Choice

I have actually stopped buying all books because I’m so torn on this eBook vs regular book thing.  If I’m going to cave and buy an eBook reader, I figure I should stop wasting my money on traditional books.  Why haven’t I taken the plunge? My main worry is that I will accumulate lots of books, notes, and tags in some eBook format, only to have that format go dead on me.  I also have this fear that if I can’t physically SEE the books in my virtual library (like I can on my bookshelves), I’ll forget about the great stuff that is in them.  Despite all the concerns, with the latest price drops from Kindle and Nook, I thought I would ask my tweeps for some help and got several tips that helped me make a decision.
  • If you’d actually like to play with a Kindle, you can physically hold one at Target. [via @bschaaf]  You can play with a Nook at any Barnes & Noble (they are a bit hard-to-miss right now).
  • Amazon’s Kindle platform also works on iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and Blackberry and has a technology called Whispersync which allows you to read simultaneously across platforms.  In other words, start reading the book on your Android phone, pick up where you left off on the Kindle by your bed, and finish the book on your Android.  Whispersync simply tracks where you are in each book so you can always pick up where you left off.  [via @ricetopher, who made a great pitch for Kindle last Sunday]
  • I was also concerned about the inability to “tag” on the Kindle.  I tend to use tags instead of notes (learned how valuable this was in A.nnotate).  So I want to be able to highlight some text and add a tag, but the eBook readers will only let you highlight text and take notes.  I thought this was a dealbreaker for using any eBook reader until @mrch0mp3rs pointed out that a note can become a tag if you use something (like the # symbol) to make sure it will be unique in a search.  So, in my notes, I could simply write my “tags” like this: #faculty #math #change #brainresearch … and then a search for these “hashtags” would function like tagging.
  • The 6″ Kindle will not provide a great experience for PDF reading, the DX would be better, but not on par with tablets or iPads. [via @ricetopher]
  • You can actually surf the web on a Kindle (it’s got an experimental browser window), but it will be in black & white. Not sure how desirable that is.  People were quite curious why I would even want to surf the web on a Kindle in B&W, but you have to remember that not everyone has good Internet at home and the 3G option might be the best option if the only other option is dial-up.
  • Apparently, I’m not the only one struggling with this issue, because at the end of our twitter conversation, we discovered that The New York Times was speculating about the same kind of things in its articleE-Book Wars: The Specialist vs The Multitasker. [via @mrch0mp3rs]

Once you decide to buy something (for me, it was a Kindle), you’ll have to struggle with choosing a size (6″ vs 9″) and a delivery option (WiFi vs 3G).  In the end, I settled with WiFi, since my HTC EVO provides me with WiFi pretty much anywhere there is 3G.  In the end, I just couldn’t resist the $139 pricetag.  If I want a bigger screen, I’ll read on my PC Tablet.  If I want more portability, I’ll read on my Android.  Why am I buying a Kindle?  For the storage space, notetaking, and battery life.  Of course, as soon as I made my purchase, I became immediately annoyed when books don’t appear in the Kindle format, so prepare yourself for that little drawback.

Now I just have to wait for my new Kindle to arrive in the mail, which might take a while – they are a bit back-ordered.

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Mathfaery: Elizabeth Hamman

Elizabeth Hamman was a great math educator who will be truly missed in the International math community. She passed away very suddenly last week, at the age of 39, after suddenly developing a problem with blood clots in her lungs, which led to a bleed in her brain. Elizabeth started writing a blog last year, called Mathfaery: Making Math Magical and was known as @mathfaery on twitter.

Elizabeth was a participant in the 2009 MCC Math & Technology Workshop, and was going to attend this year as the Assistant Director for the workshop. Her absence at this year’s workshop will leave a hole in our hearts.

If you knew Elizabeth on twitter, read her blog, met her at a workshop or presentation, or were touched by her in some way, please consider making a contribution to The Elizabeth Hamman Math Scholarship at Cerritos College.

To contribute, make checks payable to Cerritos College Foundation, Memo: Elizabeth Hamman Scholarship and mail to:

The Elizabeth Hamman Math Scholarship
Cerritos College
Attn: Foundation Office
11110 Alondra Blvd.
Norwalk, CA, 90650

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Upcoming Events

Here are some of the places you might find me during the rest of this year …  it may not LOOK like it, but my big priority for the summer is to finish my dissertation (I’m having great fun with data analysis now).

Scheduled Summer Events

Scheduled Fall Events

There are a few other speaking engagements sprinkled in there in (so far OK and NY) and my schedule is booking up for the next academic year, so if you would like me to speak at one of your events next year, now would be the time to contact me (wyandersen at gmail dot com). :)

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Best of 2008 (Part II)

More digging around in the past for good (and forgotten) stuff …

Is Open-Source Education Next? (April 2008)

Textbook 2.0: An Oxymoron? (April 2008)

Laptops in the Classroom (May 2008)

How do you write your math in online classes? (a song, May 2008)

Wii have liftoff!!! (June 2008)

TED Talks for STEM (June 2008)

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Best of 2008 (Part I)

Continuing on my “Blast from the Past” on a visit to older blog posts, here are some posts from the first half of 2008.

Adopt and Adapt (January 2008)

A Math Reader for Blind Students (January 2008)

Nudging Text in MathType (February 2008)

Even better than the “Live” version (February 2008)

Entering the Global Freeway (February 2008)

Worried about Free or Beta? (March 2008)

Today I want to be an Astronomer ... (March 2008) This one is about Worldwide Telescope and is  interesting because I spent most of the post bemoaning the fact that I was coveting other disciplines since there were just not enough easy-to-us exploration tools for math.

“Where are the cool “explorer-style” applications for mathematics? Is the TI N-Spire supposed to do it for me when I’m comparing it to stuff like this? This is exactly the kind of feeling that led me to get three degrees as an undergraduate (math, chemistry, and biology … thanks for asking). Math, even with the cool applications that we have available to us today, is simply not as engaging at the lower levels as the sciences. I doubt very much that students go to Wolfram Demonstrations to “explore” concepts. Nobody logs in to MyMathLab, WebAssign or WebWorks just to “play” with the mathematics they are learning.”

Two years later, we have Wolfram Alpha.  How cool is that?

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Carnival of Math: Mindmap Edition

Okay, okay … the Carnival of Math is late.  Sorry Mike!

Being something of a nonconformist, I thought I’d try something completely different!  This month, the Carnival of Math is in the form of an Interactive Mindmap.  So you’ve never used a mindmap?  Watch the quick tutorial (no sound).


Also, I’ve just thrown in my favorite posts from various math blogs that I read, so you may be surprised to see your own post in here!

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Whether you’re interested in using Twitter as a teaching tool or not, I think you’ll enjoy this very unique presentation, all built out of an illustration.

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Teaching with Technology Discussion Panel

While I was at Wolfram Alpha Homework Day, I participated in a Panel Discussion about the Myths about Teaching with Technology. The panel ran 30 minutes and was mediated by Elizabeth Corcoran. There were three of us (all women, weirdly enough), Debra Woods, a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Abby Brown, a math teacher at Torrey Pines High School; and myself.

I no longer remembered anything that I said in this panel, so it was fun to watch the discussion from an outside point-of-view. I am glad to see that I talked about the value of play during the discussion, because I am finding more and more that introducing play (and exploration) back into learning makes a big difference in engagement and in retention of the subject.

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How to Study for a Math Test

The Fall 2009 Calculus class at Muskegon Community College was tasked (by me) with learning how to study for a math test and then making presentations or videos to help other students.


The students started by doing their own Internet research, and then were placed in groups of 3 to focus on a particular topic. Each student was asked to interview a math instructor as part of the project to find out the details of the particular study strategy they were assigned.

Their projects generally fall into three categories:

  • General Organization, Note-taking, and Time Managment
  • Specific Study Strategies that can be used
  • Managing Stress so that you have a good test-taking experience

All of the projects can be found on their website: How to Study for a Math Test.


It’s a nice resource written by students for students, and I hope that many of you will pass it on to your classes.

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