Friday, June 26, 2009


Calculus notes from the Cengage team...

Calculus Courses
• Mostly 4 year schools
• Taught in the math department
• Required course for many majors
• Multi-term sequence
• Homework, but not necessarily graded

• Tenure-track math faculty
• Consider this "their course"
• Appreciate the beauty of mathematics

• Generally successful students
• Science, pre-med, engineering, physics, computer science, math
• Varied background: 20% no HS Calculus to passed AP Calculus
• Few have interest / love for math
• Generally looking for minimum work to make the grade

Key Problems
• Instructors: Diversity of students' math backgrounds!
• Students: Motivation, time management.

Developmental Math

I spent some time with the Cengage editorial team yesterday, and want to capture some key points.

Developmental Math Courses
Mostly 2 year schools
Many small sections
Students test into the course
Usually non-credit

A few lead instructors - full time
Many adjuncts - freeway flyers

Generally struggling in school
Many non-traditional students
Resent having to take the class
Lack basic math skills
Fear Math

Key Problems
Instructors: Time
Students: Fear, motivation, math skills

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Cengage recently announced that 250+ titles will be available as online books through CafeScribe. Krugman is available for $58.67.

It seems that the goal is to allow highlighting and annotation, and sharing of these notes among a community of readers. So far 11 folks have purchased Krugman, and one person has added two brief notes.

I'm skeptical. CafeScribe requires installing the MyScribe application. This required a 56.8 Mbyte download for Macintosh. The website and application appear both slow and clunky. The application crashed the first time I launched it, and the website gave we 404 errors.

Although it's promised on the homepage, I wasn't able to find a full demo book to download. At best I found a two page document, so it's hard to tell what full texts will look like.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Scribd provides online publication of books, artwork, reports, and so forth using iPaper technology. Documents may be public or private, free or paid.

iPaper is essentially an improved version of FlashPaper. It's got a clean interface, and seems to import documents flawlessly – more than I can say for FlashPaper. Make sure you check out the button with all the little squares, used for navigation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce

Options are good?

Just when Barry Schwartz has us convinced that too many options cause all sorts of grief, along comes Malcolm Gladwell to tell us that we really need a few choices.

Another outstanding TED talk at...

Friday, June 5, 2009


Although the CrunchPad seems to be a crude prototype, the concept is interesting.

Would students buy a similar device along with their laptop and cell phone? Instead of their laptop?