N.B. I’ve failed, insofar, to incorporate mathematical language in my blogs. I think it’s important to use terminology in non-rigorous ways to reduce readers’ math anxiety and encourage mathematical play. I’ll attempt to correct my fault, in part, with this blog. (If you want more on math anxiety and the solutions that can be found in play, check this out; if you think mathematics is mutually exclusive of imagination, you need this)
To say that my Professional Learning Network (PLN) has grown as a result of ECS 210 would be an understatement. It has grown exponentially in the past two months, since it didn’t exist beforehand. However, trying to estimate how much effect the changes have had, and more importantly, how much of an effect they will have is a difficult task.
I was already on twitter in September. At that time, and still, I mostly used it to connect with my family. The only two people I followed who could be considered part of my PLN were John Allen Paulos (a mathematician heavily tainted by stats) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (a science-communicator, perhaps best known as recipient of the highly uncontested People Magazine’s Sexiest Astrophysicist Award). Thanks to ECS 210, I’ve begun following math Educator Dan Meyer, our own Mike Capello, local journalist Emma Graney, and various peers from UR’s Education Program.
I still don’t feel comfortable tweeting about educational topics – with the majority of my followers family, I’m worried I’ll bore them. As a result, I tend only to participate in class when I can tweet someone or reply to someone directly (That way it won’t show up in my family’s news feed). I’ve considered creating a “teacher” account, but I know myself, and it’ll likely go underused. I think I’ve still a ways to grow on twitter.
Blogging, however, was a brand new experience for me. I’ve helped to run websites before, and I’ve studied a bit of html and CSS over at codecademy, so I’ve really been enjoying playing around with some of the technical pieces (If you check out the mouse over text for most of the links in this post, for example, I’ve tried to be fun). I do blog posts for class, I respond to my peers for class. What really strikes me is when people read my blog on their own, and comment without coercion. I received an absolutely lovely comment from Ms. Kayley Murdoch just this evening, and I don’t think it was for class. That means so much more to me – that somebody might care about what I have to say for it’s own worth.
I feel incredibly more engaged with education as a culture thanks to my online presence. It builds a certain confidence to know that teachers are out there, struggling, looking for help, and finding it through the web. I discovered the articles in my Nota Bene above through twitter, where I also learned about Tiny Math Games, a classic problem solving algorithm, and one of the shortest math publications of all time; I even found support for my math assignments.
I’ve read more articles, seen more points of view, and considered more new strategies since I started engaging with education on the internet than ever before. To put it mathematically:
I see the internet as having been instrumental to my growth over the past two months, and I predict it will continue to be so… As soon as I figure out how to code some superscript pop-out windows (like Randall Munroe) I think I may even start blogging for its own sake. Then, if I overcome my twitter inhibitions, there will be no stopping me.