ESCOT Summer Workshop 2001
Day 2

ESCOT Summer Workshop 2001 || Math Forum Workshops

Connections: Jody led us through connections.

Gene Klotz:
Part I - The Wonderful Story of Digital Libraries

SMETE Digital Library - The most comprehensive collection of science, math, engineering and technology education content and services.

The digital library initiative by NSF has started bringing people together to make modern tools, curricula, and active learning environments more accessible to students and teachers.

The Math Forum became involved in the second round of digital library funding with the JOMA project:

Another big problem that is not going to get solved is the sustainability model for digital libraries. The MAA is trying an idea of having a catalog of mathematics commercial products but this is as yet untested as a viable model.

Gene said that the "greatest achievement in his life" was to get NCTM and MAA folks in the same room to submit a proposal to NSF. The sad ending, however, was that the proposal did not get funded.

Mathlets is the name used for applets, javascipt, Shockwave, Flash and/or other interactive ideas. The idea is to help people who have good ideas by listing them in JOMA (Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications).

Chris asked what is being done about the lack of quality of materials in the collection. Gene responded by talking about a workshop that he attended on Open Course. There was a movement in Michigan called the Open Source movement. This has worked well in some areas, such as LInux, but in other areas it hasn't worked as well.

Part II - The Open Course movement:

This is about the Open Source movement. The Open Course folks want to do something similar but with an academic focus.

They want to have available tools that are inner operable and that people can share. They think that a measure of success in their achievement is if the Open Course movement were to have something comparable to the Open Source movement.

Gene passed out information on the Open Course Workshop held in Ann Arbor, Michigan in July, 2001.

The workshop explored the following issues:

  • What kinds of open course projects are feasible?
  • What are their potential benefits?
  • How do open course collaborations get started?
  • What is needed to make them self-sustaining and productive?
  • What technological infrastructure is necessary for their success?
  • What legal framework is needed?
  • What initial funding is needed and where will it come from?

Gene concluded by saying that he would be happy to share documents that he has on the topic if anyone would like further information.

Wes Shumar: ESCOT Integration Team - Evaluation

The attempt this year was to be more systematic using four sources of data. Last year looking at the preliminary data, they were looking at belonging, world view, and communication.

Belonging is an issue of boundary. It was noticed that groups that work well with each other have clear goals shared by all members of the team, clear roles and group process.

The worldview is an issue of boundary outside the group. Included are issues that must be negotiated between teachers, ed tech people, and developers. The last analytic category developed last year was communication with negotiation across boundaries. Wes referred to a diagram from Wenger's book, "Communities of Practice." He elaborated on Wenger's Model of Community Interaction.

  • Reification - forms, points of focus, documents, instruments, etc.
  • Participation - interaction, membership, mutuality, acting, etc.
  • Meaning/negotiation
  • Experience/World

Leslie asked for more explanation on the meaning of "reification." Wes responded that the act of taking notes is reification. The notes make concrete the situation but they are still an abstraction.

Wes noted that he will be referring to "conflict" not in a negative way as he presents these ideas but that there was a difference in opinion and he finds that very interesting to consider.

There was some indication that people preferred small groups. He said that the teams were relatively small anyway. He said he found comments that said small groups are good but not large books are bad.

The question of vision is interesting. We had face-to-face meeting at the summer workshop and/or beyond. One of the things that can be seen clearly is that the ones who thought things had been clarified in the f2f workshop, the groups were very positive about the latter work time and said that the process had been smooth.

Comments on the communication technologies - most people liked the IM a lot. This surprised Wes but overall as a group, ESCOT did not have any problems communicating through IM. There was less talk about email. That makes sense because email has become a baseline is our work and doesn't stand out as much.

Jody asked what Wes meant by groups who had not met f2f because she said everyone had participated in the f2f workshop. Wes thought that maybe it was more a group that had not worked out much in the f2f workshop.

F2F sets up certain kinds of relationships so that you have some idea of the emotional quality of the people who you are dealing with. Then later the IM banter makes a little more sense. There was discussion about different situations that happened and how effective IM was. Jeremy mentioned the facilitated IM that can happen if someone takes that lead. Leslie commented that with some people it doesn't matter as much if you have met them f2f to still have a productive team.

Chris noted the consensus building was valuable in IM. Mark said the advantage of email was that it gives you some time for reflection that you might not have with IM. Leslie agreed that sometimes she felt that she didn't have time to really think and make decisions during an IM session. Jeremy noted the forcing function of the IM session. Bill said that the IM transcript was much handier than email because everything was in one spot.

Mark said that if there was an agenda and/or open issue list. Wes mentioned an interesting feature was that there was not well-defined leadership in each of the groups but these roles emerged. Alex mentioned that it might be more of a comparison for IM is to compare it to phone conversations.

Chris mentioned that silence does not become awkward on IM while it sometimes is on the phone.

We talked about having side IM conversations along with the main one and how that was an added communication tool.

There were two kinds of role reactions. In some groups some people just fell into those roles and the group was happy. In other cases there were a number of comments that indicated that the roles were defined haphazardly. Some groups clicked and some did not and those that did not did not have anything to fall back on and the group members felt less positive about the group interaction.

The leadership question is directly related to the roles question. Some felt it was an obligation because things stopped when they were not active.

There were groups that didn't require leaders. Everyone was taking leadership roles. The leadership topic is a tricky area to understand because of many subtleties.

The developers work in a world very rapidly/the teachers work in a slower world and the ed tech folks work in the world more on the fast side.

Suzanne suggested that you could spin the world

Ann brought up the individual differences of personalities that affect response.

There were instances when the team member felt that their voice was not being heard. This was an issue of speed. The person with the idea did not feel that they were being heard. Wes isn't sure if this is a virtual situation or would happen similarly in a f2f situation.

  • Most groups reported very positive experiences and worked very well
  • Clear leadership and clear roles were important
  • Teachers' work is different from developers/ work
  • Status in the outside world influences working groups that are designed to be equal

Leslie commented that we have had our meetings in the developer type world rather than the teachers' world and a good contrast.

Jim Kaput said that amazing impact on their thinking

Ann said that it would also be of value for teachers to view the videos so

Jody said that the developers would have a different view of the classroom and that would be interesting, too.

Notes for Alex Repenning's presentation
ESCOT aftermath
    What did we find?
    Things we did not talk about in the final NSF report.
    Software components do not work like hardware components (forget the Lego analogy!)
    SW components got changed for each project
    Glueing the components together was more complex in most cases that producing components.

    Java Ever again?
    Good for conceptual development
    Applets are terrible for distribution: breaks, crashes, takes forever to load; 2% coding 98% testing, patching, hacking.
    Sun has produced a lot of hype but delivered damaged goods.
    Should file class action lawsuit.

    The post ESCOT AgentSheets
    Can produce complex simulations wrapped up as Java Beans( components)
    Less is more: we deconstructivised. Agentsheets by adding more and more constraints (agent that can't be moved, no tools,..)
    Flexibility is not always a good thing, making things confusing and unusable.
    Jim: scaling back on complexity on the TI project for the last two or three years.

    We succeeded but.
    • Agentsheets allows end-user to build components easily
    • But assembling components (in java) is trouble.
    • We tried tools like Jbuilder, visual Age, Beanbuilder.
    • If all a user wants is to hook up a slider to a simulation then components are like drinking from fire hose.
    The Hooking up of components were complicated, not for USERS

    Next idea: back to html
    • Create autonomous component applets
    • Use an html editor to do component layout wiring
    • can be modified by end-users.
    Set HTML parameters of cloudyfish.
    A demo that hooks up the sliders with agentsheets simulation.

    Slider components

    <applet codebase = "applet"
    code="uAgentsheets.SliderApplet.class" ARCHIVE =UaGENTSHEETS.JAR"
    WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="50" NAME = "NUMBER-OF-TRIALS-SLIDER" align="bottom">
    <param name = "propertyName" value="number_of_trials">
    <param name ="minimum" value = "0">
    <param name = "maximum" value = 100>

    No compilation needed.

    Java: bad.
    Flash Good. 4 works great. Compaq ‘s iPaq has 3 times pixels than palm.
    iPaq has wireless access, and a fast processor. Running scientific simulation.
    Smaller than IPaQ
    1GB disk.
    We will visit Toshiba media lab and business units in September.
    Blue tooth.
    Prices dropping.
    Jeremy: Consumer demand goes up.
    Chris: profit margin going down.
    Jody: not practical yet in school.
    Alex: Imode phone runs Java in Japan.
    Bill: cheaper to get an Ibook as supposed to a handheld.
    Docomo has 100 million users.

    Escot products: maybe….. Invited by Japanese government to present Agentsheet/ESCOT at largest IT conference in Asia (400k) people

    Growing Awareness
    Invitation by European commission: interested in end-user programming
    Mission: participatory design, end user development, adaptive interfaces have been proposed as techniques aiming at delegating some programming capability to the user. Research in this field may determine a real revolution in the way software is currently developed and an enhancement of its economical benefits.

    Next Idea 2: Flash
    Claim: every escot activity could be built with flash5.
    Experiment: we created one Flash version
    Never crashed-> no java loading anxiety.
    Worked on all browsers
    Loaded every time.
    Loaded 20 times faster.
    Less memory needed.
    Resizable! Works on handhelds and small screen computers.
    Initially we didn’t expect flash to have enough power to do complex things.
    Flash 5 is quite amazing.

    Loading java is slow, flash 5. can be scaled, run in full screen.
    New programming language for flash. Objected Oriented.
    Jeremy: flash may not be a conceptual clean language, but it works!
    Alex: more bad things about java…. Not loading....

    Chris: graphics editing is included.
    Alex: funding for this type of work?
    Eugene: new ideas for NSF, and attach flash in the proposal.
    • Great starting point
    • Development options.
      Desktops forget netscape.
      Handhelds: explore stable subsets, e.g Waba
      Way to produce stable deliverables.
      Probably requires commercial funding (not research)
    • PR strategy: flashsize small number of ESCOT activities
    • Priority #1 funding.
Chris and Jody:

Find design principles on problem solving and learning for individual ePOWs.

Coding scheme for EPoW evaluation.

  1. Methods: coding with inter-rater reliability
  2. Surveying all year 1 and year 2 Epows.
  3. Looking for measures that differentiate between EPows or are consistent across them.
  4. Compare results against student data
  5. Anticipated results: the importance of certain measures and their implications on problem-solving and learning
  6. We are looking for feedback on our analysis.
Chris: come up with measures that captures its characteristics rather than judgmental.
Chris: 2 pools of data. Students responses (effective of applets) Trade offs of various characteristics of applet for the learning experience.
Jody: Focus of learning is perhaps the pie chat rather than the fish component.
Leslie: Applets adapted to different groups of kids? For example: first applet worked well, and a strong group used it.. successful. Second applet may be not so good, and a different group of weaker students may not be so successful with it. Is it the applet or the group?
Anne: motivation factors are too general. What are the impacts of applets? Have 3 sets of people looking of the results and use the same coding schemes to do grading.
Leslie: Have master teacher to evaluate the applets.
Chris: have various groups of people to evaluate the applets: developers, teachers, etc.
Jeremy: Take three applets vary characteristics of applets to see which features makes a difference.
Jody: Teacher factor in the classroom for the applets.
Mark: use Mathlet evaluation system.
Anne: design intention.

  representation of math support for learning process
context free    
Three groups:
  1. Outlining an article for a math teacher journal.
  2. Work on teacher support area on MF site.
  3. Parameterize applets.
    Identifying variables
    Creating variations of EPows.
Jim Kaput and Jeremy Roschelle:

In the proposal stages the idea was to use the 5 NSF curriculum projects and so we worked with the ShowMeCenter to work on this idea.

They welcomed ESCOT by inviting us to their annual meetings, etc. The ShowMeCenter and the leaders of the main curricula projects seriously considered to look at technology as part of their curricula. Initially they all thought that they would be targeting a small part of the market. They thought that adding technology to their curricula would limit their market.

There has been a shift from that idea (technology limiting market access) to where now they are worried about including technology that is stable and will be around for awhile. They haven't made any major decisions on where they are going with the use of technology.

Gene said that awhile back he tried courting them and he said that he made zero impact on them. Some people are technologically indifferent. He feels they give lip service to the idea of using technology but he doesn't think normal courting will be successful.

Jim Kaput said that Jim Fey is interested in meeting with him in September to seriously talk about the possibilities. Right now they do use calculators.

Jeremy said that it is a two stage process. The publishers are also difficult to work with them. The publishers don't consider the need for ongoing support which is necessary if software is part of the package. Even if we convince the curricula authors to include technology, the next stage is to convince the publishers not to change things.

Another change in the course of ESCOT's three year life has been the addition of the testing and accountability issues. This is now a problem in several states and will continue to spread.

The idea of using ePoWs was the idea of being able to insert them marginally but not as a complete curriculum. Jim shared an experience this summer of breaking into a teachers' practice and making a difference is extremely difficult even if you have all of the district personnel supporting you. He has concluded that the major target should be to embed the tools into mainstream materials in order to effect change.

If you try to build software to take over the device, you run into a lot of logistical difficulties.

Chris stated that he is intrigued by the idea that publishers might be looking for something that would last for 6-7 years. What if we thought of hardware that is a specialized device that has no notion of reprogramablility.

Gene commented that we have a real tension between the publishing world and the software developing world. Things change so rapidly in the technology world. There are no long term models like in the publishing world.

Alex said that there are some places that can make stable software. His example was between postscript and java.

Jim said that there is also an alignment of conservative tendencies with the new accountability standards.

Leslie said that for teachers to be comfortable with complicated calculators they need training. It takes time to help teachers along because they don't have time to learn new things. The structure of the work day works against strange. It takes research and reflection to make this happen.

Jim says that this says a lot about what can be implemented in a "regular" classroom. His project produces highly scripted lessons including many details. The material is tremendously scaffolded. Initially everything is configured exactly as it needs to be.

Jeremy concluded that nibbles have been coming in which he describes as tentative explorations. He said that technology and curriculum is like the classic junior high school dance. He thinks it's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Chris mentioned that Jim has an interest in homeschooling and he asked if that would be a market. Jim said that he is not interested in dealing with that market because of the conservative tone. The market that he is interested in is the after school market which is working with students to bring them up to speed. Jim said that he will be pushing hard to develop versions of his product to be used for after school and summer programs.

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