Mathematical Instruments: 21st Century Educator

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mathematical Instruments.

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Today:

David Wees — 21st Century Educator

What’s your blog’s name? Any other places (Twitter, Google+, Facebook etc) we can find you on?

My blog’s name is 21st century educator, which was really a hastily made decision. Were I to rename my blog, I can think of many other choices which would be better, but for now I’ve decided to stick with this name. You can find me on Twitter and Google+. My Facebook account is for friends and family only.

Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself? E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your background? Any scientific education?

I grew up in beautiful British Columbia, in a quiet place called Denman Island. I’ve since lived in Vancouver (where I did two of my university degrees), Brooklyn, London, and Bangkok, and I am now back in Vancouver. My educational philosophy is that learning happens best through a mixture of exploration, and guided exploration. My education background is that I have a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) (which would have been honours, but I didn’t bother to finish up the 4 elective courses I needed), a Bachelor of Education (Secondary Mathematics), and a Masters degree in Educational Technology. I have been teaching for the past 10 years, mostly mathematics course, but a few science courses as well. I have future plans to complete a PHD program as well, although I have not yet decided where, or in what.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs? When did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2005, and about the same time, I started reading other people’s blogs. I have always found it fascinating to connect with other people. Most of my reading has been on mathematics education, but I’ve recently started following blogs of mathematicians as well.

Why did you start? What do you write about?

My created my first blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends when my wife and I were about to move to London. I shared the link with my mother, who was my primary audience (she even commented on some of my posts!), and used the blog to share pictures and stories from our life in London. My next blog was about computer programming, and focused on the development I was doing in JavaScript, ActionScript/Flash, and PHP. It actually remains somewhat popular today, and I receive almost 1/3 of the hits to my site to my old programming blog. In 2008, I started an educational blog where I talk about technology, philosophy, and mathematics education.

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

The Internet is the most powerful tool for communication ever invented on this planet. When I do not have access to the Internet for small periods of time, I take the time to reflect and talk to the people around me more. When I do have access to the Internet, I try and make sure that the people who are around me take priority, and that the Internet is a tool I use for communication with people who are not present. I find the Internet incredibly useful as a way to learn about a wide variety of perspectives, and to share my perspective with a wide variety of people, and hence get feedback on my work. Without the Internet, I’m sure I would have not been exposed to the variety of ideas that I now know about, and I would be a far less effective educator.

What does the internet need more of?

There is a lot of dross on the Internet. We need better ways to rate the reliability of information on the net, so that people who are not as careful about checking the reliability of information they find are not pulled in by the scammers quite as easily.

Mathematicians on the web have…

Opened up a new era for mathematical collaboration. Some ideas will be much easier to solve with many people working on them simultaneously, as the sum of the abilities of the various mathematicians working on a project is greater than the individual parts. Similarly, we will always need some people working more in isolation who bring forward more complete ideas that aren’t influenced by the misconceptions of others. A great example of this type of collaboration is the Polymath blog.

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

I read an enormous amount each day as I am following several hundred blogs, a few hashtag conversations on Twitter (right now #edchat #mathchat but I also follow conference hashtags as they appear). See here for the mathematics education blogs I am following.

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