Monthly Archives: October 2013

SCORM Objects and Camtasia Quizzes in Instructure Canvas

So, what exactly is SCORM?

Yeah, I don’t know, either.  I can tell you that SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, but other than that, I really have no idea.

Why would someone want to use SCORM?

Many textbooks these days have publisher-provided SCORM content.  So, if you want to import pre-made content into a Learning Management System, such as Instructure Canvas, SCORM is one way to go about doing that.

However, the reason that I wanted to learn about SCORM is because I wanted to create quizzes in Camtasia and have grades read to the Instructure Canvas Gradebook.

So, can Instructure Canvas do what you want it to do?

Absolutely not!  Instructure Canvas will allow for importing of certain SCORM objects, but not all.  In addition, there are security problems with allowing SCORM content to write to the Instructure Canvas Gradebook.

Oh well.  Better luck next time.

The Problem with Math is English

There have been several separate occasions in my math classes this semester where a student has asked me a question about a vocabulary word and I simply just didn’t know the answer.  I took 3 years of Latin in high school and I was an English teacher at one point, so I generally can guess the meaning of a word from the root word.  However, some words just have me stumped.   My new ‘go to’ tool in class is dictionary.com.  Let me give you a few examples of some words that I have looked up during class this semester.

Linear Algebra

In linear algebra, we were talking about inverse matrices and a student asked me what it means to be an inverse.  I explained to him that it means that the inverse matrix, if it exists, is the matrix that when multiplied by the original matrix yields the identity matrix.  Although that explained what the inverse is mathematically speaking, that really didn’t give any insight into why we call it an inverse matrix.  It turns out that the word inverse comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to turn upside down or inside out.’  So, conceptually, the inverse matrix can actually be thought of as the matrix that is used to turn a matrix inside out in order to get the identity matrix.  I thought that this was a very interesting way to think about inverse matrices.

Math for Elementary Teachers

In my math for elementary teachers class, we were talking about subtracting whole numbers.  When I learned about subtraction, I was taught that the first number in the subtraction problem is called the minuend, the second number is called the subtrahend, and the result is the difference.  Apparently, minuend and subtrahend are not words that are taught to most students these days, or they have simply forgotten the terms over the years.  Anyway, during class, a student asked me why we use the words minuend and subtrahend.  We looked it up on dictionary.com, and it turns out that subtrahend comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to be subtracted from another number’ and minuend comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to be diminished or made smaller.’  So, after looking at the definitions of the words together in class, I feel as if my students got a better understanding for why it is so important to teach children the proper math vocabulary.

Everyday Math (Liberal Arts Math)

In my everyday math class, we were talking about discrete and continuous random variables.  A student asked me why I was defining a discrete random variable as being a random variable that as one that can only take on countable values.  The student said that it was confusing because discrete generally means to do something carefully or quietly.  I immediately brought up dictionary.com on the computer and showed the class that the words discrete and discreet are two different words.  The majority of the class was shocked and several students even mentioned that these types of problems with the English language aren’t even being addressed in the English classes that they are taking this semester.  I’m not an English teacher, but I would think that if students don’t know some basic vocabulary words, they aren’t going to be turning out very high quality papers for their classes, either.

In summary, my whole point is that using a tool as simple as dictionary.com during my classes has helped spark some discussion in my classes and has helped to bring a new perspective to some of the mathematical vocabulary that is used in the courses.

Nevermind is a Very Rude Word

I would like to make the case that the word ‘nevermind’ is quite possibly one of the rudest words in the English language  In fact, if you check the dictionary, the definition of the word actually states that nevermind is a word that is usually used in negative contexts.

So, why am I ranting and rambling on about this word? Well, last week I was in my office helping a student on a problem on a take home quiz. I know, I’m nicer than I should be, as I shouldn’t have been helping the student on a take home quiz to begin with. However, I knew it was a hard problem and I had given other several other students who had come into my office earlier that day a hint, so I thought that I should give this student a hint as well. But that’s beside the point right now.

Anyway, what happened next really made me angry: I gave the student the hint and the student kept on asking for more and kept on asking how I got a certain number in the problem. So, I decided that I would elaborate a little bit on the situation to try to provide insight into how the problem might be solved. And half-way through my explanation, the student utters the word, ‘nevermind’ and starts stomping off the other way. I started to say something nice like, ‘Well, what don’t you understand at this point?,’ but then I stopped myself and started yelling back at the student, ‘Yeah, you’re right. Nevermind. I tried to help you and if you’re going to be rude and interrupt me while I’m trying to help you, then nevermind. I’m not going to help you!”

The worst part of all is that all of this happened with less than 15 minutes left before class started and I really didn’t have time to calm down before class started. Obviously I’m still alive and made it through the class. However, it made me think long and hard about what exactly made me so angry. It couldn’t have just been that the student kept on asking me for help on a take home quiz even after I had already given a hint. It couldn’t have just been that the student interrupted me while I wasn’t explaining something. And it couldn’t have just been that the student waited until 15 minutes before class to come to my office to ask a question about the quiz. No, I realized it was the word ‘nevermind’ that is what made me so angry.

Let me put it this way: Suppose you are a talking to someone who is hard of hearing. You ask them a question and they don’t hear you the first time. So, you ask them the question again and they still don’t hear you. Then, they say, ‘Could you please repeat that again?,’ and you since you’re getting frustrated and don’t want to repeat the question a third time, you say, ‘nevermind.’ Think about how small and degraded the hard of hearing person must feel at that point.

Another one of my students told me that she was at work last week and she was working a department at her store that she usually doesn’t work in. She was just filling in for someone who was sick. A customer asked her where something was and she said that she thought that they didn’t have the item anymore, but if they did, it would be down a certain aisle. The customer yelled at her, ‘Nevermind. You don’t know.’ Again, think about how the word ‘nevermind’ made my student feel, even though all she was doing was trying to help this customer.

We all need to be careful about what we say. Just the smallest word can really set the trigger off for someone. And one of those words for me is the word ‘nevermind.’