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Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Algebra Online Course

I have a torrent going with close to eight Gigabytes of old Algebra books. What can I add?

 Nicholas Negroponte has a hunch, if he drops a bunch of cheap laptops in far away places, kids will teach each other. Wouldn't it be cool if that were true? I do believe that the limit to children are grownups; of course we are the only thing they have, and there are some things they cannot do by themselves.

 I searched for an Online Algebra Course with Python; no luck. I got sites with tutorials to learn Python, or online algebra courses, but I didn't find this particular combination. I have Pythonxy, and can use SymPy. I have a server that a friend is hosting in Chilpancingo, with Moodle.

Here I try a few ideas for my best course going forward.

It is so easy to get lost in code, my students do not even know how to use a computer proficiently. They live all over the state of Guerrero, and come to Chilpancingo, once a week. I already have some material in Algebra. What I want now is some online quizzes, homeworks, and tests, which they can take online. I would prefer that there is more than multiple choice. Some interactive window where they can play with algebra.

At the level of this note, I want some guiding ideas, for the construction of the online experience.

My students are high school  math teachers. They do not know how to program. When I was at Glenbard East, a friend told me that VPython was useful for Physics teaching. I studied a little. I am sure I can direct the students that way also, the problem is that they program even less than  I do, besides I won't be present.

I already took an Artificial Intelligence class at Stanford. I hope my students will take my class more seriously than I did mine! Without the physical presence of the instructor, we get lost. All the interpersonal gifts we have developed, go by the wayside.

The class has to be extra rewarding; they have to feel excited about the prospect of learning powerful tools to do their work.

Recently I heard that the Maricopa County of Arizona, considers Paulo Freire's book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", inappropriate for the Mexican American kids in their high schools. I beg to differ; Freire accomplished an important task, he made the students eager to acquire tools to improve their lot in life. Our students in Guerrero are also oppressed.. Professor Negroponte , also wants to empower the Wretched of the Earth, to move to the middle class.

¡Sí, se puede!

Nicholas Negroponte
Paulo Freire

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