if it’s hard, we’ll add the visuals

Posted on February 14, 2014

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Watching the pretty awesome algebra2go video on conversions.   Here is my conundrum.   Okay, first that he goes rolling all the way through multi-step and multi-dimensional conversions in the same fell swoop, though that has its advantages, and  if I’m a teacher I can break it up — and a student could, too.   (My ideal “curriculum with everything” would have the “power user one fell swoop” videos as well as the ones broken into concept-constructing segments.)   

    Secondly — and I noticed this with ALEKS, too — what’s with having really cool graphics to show what the *volume* conversions mean… but with the initial “convert 3,500,000 inches to miles” we simply get a mess of conversion formulae and statements like ‘because there are 12 inches in a foot.’

   Yes.   I am fully aware that most people do know this.   However, would it *hurt* to have a picture of a ruler?   Would it hurt to spend 5 seconds displaying that proportional relationship?   I can *promise* you, there are many students who don’t really “get” why you would multiply the feet by 12 to find the inches… and then some-shocking-integer-fold more who don’t get why you’d divide inches by 12 to get the equivalent in feet… and too many who actually don’t even know that you’re finding an equivalent, whatever that is, not an answer to a multiplication or division problem that the teacher has glibly told you the rules for when s/he wants you to do which.

   Just sayin’.   ALEKS, too, sprinkles (even more sparingly — and it doesn’t have any videos) a few visuals … but only here and there, in the ‘harder’ parts of things.   If you are missing the concept, giving help at the advanced stuff is not too likely to trickle down.   

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