So in depressing news, we’ve passed a threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. What we as a species do with that information, and how we act from here on out is probably more important. But for those more scientifically minded, the question is not if, but when and how bad. Will it only be 25% extinction of extant species? Perhaps only 1 billion people displaced due to oceans rising around the Bay of Bengal? Or will it in fact be much worse? Well that’s depressing, but at least we’re able to read about whats coming unlike the poor, illiterate dinosaurs. Let’s hope we’re more proactive.

I found this interesting as I was looking at coming moocs one could take. Coursera is offering a sequence of courses, presumably aimed at ELL students. I think language learning in the online format is greatly under served right now. There are 4500ish colleges and universities in the US who could offer online ELL courses and an ever growing market of students worldwide. How many of those institutions could do it well is probably a much smaller number. But with modern technologies an ELL class or a foreign language class could be very successful, if faculty thought about how to leverage students bodies and available technologies. I think Coursera is making a very smart move. The mooc is probably a very good starting place, and then smaller, more traditional onlines could takeover from there.

And in the continuing American saga of trying to help people learn math I have two articles. The first concerns high school students in California who have created their own non-profit for coming up with modelling and curriculum to help teachers integrate modelling of real life examples into their math courses. I love the idea that they are taking the classes and are closest to the math and the real world, so they’re coming up with ideas to share with all. I hope some mathematicians bookmark their site. The other is an IES meta-analyis of math studies over the last 10 years. They’ve culled the reports from the 200 grants they supported and offer 28 highlights faculty could easily integrate into their teaching. They offer a lot of practical ideas for helping students with math, things like __ = 2+2 instead of 2+2 = __. Or bringing physicality of arm placement into understanding angles. Or thinking of fractions along number lines instead of as parts of a whole to help students understand that while 25 is larger than 5, 1/5 is larger than 1/25. There should be some great stuff for math instructors at all levels.

The last article is about flipped teaching. I’m always cautious when I speak to people about the flipped classroom, sometimes its because the videos involved in the flipping are still as dry as the textbooks. But the article focuses on Tyler Dewitt and a keynote he gave. So I checked out his webpage and think he does a lot of great things in his videos. They all focus on chemistry, and while I had to shake off a lot of cobwebs while watching a few of his videos, I think they were really done well. And if videos like this were incorporated into a flipped classroom I would be much more open to the idea.