The Benefits of Online Office Hours

I recently read a post in a Facebook Group by a math instructor who described her office hours as "throwing an hour of my life away every week." This comment upset me much. I have an average of one student show up for my online office hours each semester. However, I never feel that holding office hours is a waste of my time. I feel that holding online office hours has helped to increase overall student satisfaction in my courses. From the student perspective, I believe there is something psychological about knowing an instructor is available to help, even if the student doesn't ask for help. And from my perspective, hosting the online office hours is not an inconvenience to me at all. At my college, we use Zoom, which has a web version and a mobile app. I tend to open the Zoom session on my phone so that I can hear the chime if a student enters the meeting. Then...
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Student Engagement In and Out of the Classroom

On November 7, 2014, I attended the ETOM Conference at St. Clair Community College in Port Huron, MI. One of the underlying themes of this year conference was student engagement in and out of the classroom. As an instructor who hasn’t taken classes in quite some time, sometimes I forget how difficult it is to be a student in the 21st century. Between the rising cost of college, the changing nature of technology, and the demands at home, it is often a struggle to engage students in the classroom. This conference helped give me a different perspective of how I can look at my classes in a new way. The opening session focused on Open Educational Resources and how the cost of textbooks has an impact on which classes students take and how engaged the students are with the college. The statistics are clear that higher textbook costs lead students to take fewer classes and sometimes not to take any classes...
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A #hernia2013 Update

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write this post because I thought it might end up sounding bitter, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not bitter about anything.  I am just writing this to try to inspire those who might be struggling with issues in their life right now, especially around the Christmas season. For those of you who don't know, I started on a weight loss journey back in March 2013.  Since that time, I've lost around 60 lbs.  And since I had been on a diet before that, I've lost a total of about 90 lbs overall.  But this post isn't about the weight loss, it's actually about the side effects of the weight loss. See, what I didn't know about weight loss is that it can lead to a hernia.  Apparently, your intestine is held in place by a fatty membrane.  As I started to lose weight, the fat holding the intestine in place started...
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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....
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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...
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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...
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Diversity in Mathematics

Diversity in Mathematics Diversity is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  As a Korean kid in a primarily white neighborhood and surrounded by primarily white family and friends, I was often bullied.  Although, I’m sure it didn’t help that I was overweight as a child, but that’s a different story.  I know my parents tried their best to make sure that I felt included and whatnot, but I always felt racism and racial undertones a lot as kid, in school, in church, and pretty much everywhere I went on a daily basis.  To me, that’s not how America is supposed to be.  In my America, diversity is supposed to be a good thing.  In my America, diversity is supposed to be appreciated and welcomed.  To that end, I’m trying to do my part by integrating diversity in mathematics topics into my classroom and into my department.  Here are some of the things that I’ve done recently: 1.  Create...
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See you at #MichMATYC13

As part of MichMATYC's Fall 2013 Conference coming up on Friday, October 4 - Saturday, October 5, I was asked to create gift basket to be used as a raffle prize during the conference.  I gladly agreed to help out by making a donation!  A picture of the basket and a description of what's all inside it is below.  I hope to see you at the conference and good luck winning the raffle prize! Jon Oaks’ Favorite Things Basket This raffle prize is quite unique and includes the following items: Really Useful Boxes 16 Box Organizer Targus Back-Up Battery for Smartphones PNY 16 GB Flash Drive Pentel Twist Erase 9.0 mm Pencils A Gift Certificate for a 2 hour professional development consultation with Jon Oaks* *Offer must be redeemed with Jon Oaks before October 11, 2014.  Jon Oaks is a math instructor at Macomb Community College in Warren, MI, and the Professional Development Coordinator for AMATYC (The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges).  The topics and format (in-person...
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What I Learned at #BloggyCon13

This weekend I attended my first blogging conference ever: Bloggy Conference 2013. My intent for attending was as follows: I wanted to get tips for becoming a better blogger myself. I am considering having my students write blogs themselves (similar to this idea), as I truly believe that if my students write about what they are learning, then they are more likely to retain the information long-term. I have a few students this semester who are homeschooling their kids at home and have asked me for suggestions for teaching their children mathematics and I heard there were some home school bloggers coming to the conference and I thought that I might be able to network and get some ideas from them. The conference was at Cedar Point, a place that seems to primarily be known for its great Roller coasters. Cedar Point was a great place for the conference. The hospitality was great and I learned that there is so much more to Cedar...
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