Traditional whiteboards are a common medium for mathematics education, and are particularly suited to the high school and college level where conceptual understanding of the subject matter is emphasized above procedural understanding. Although considerable work has been done to apply sketch-based interaction to mathematics learning, very few have addressed this from the perspective of teaching mathematics in a conventional classroom environment. This project provides a set of design considerations for dynamic whiteboards in instructional contexts and presents an embodiment of these considerations.
Goals of the project are
Support mathematics instruction
Create a "better" presentation-environment
Stay in a familiar environment (input method)
Use digital teaching materials
I had the pleasure to be a short time member of the ILab at the UoC (University of Calgary) from August to December 2011. During my time in Calgary, I was able to gather some great impressions of the beautiful Canadian country. I shared the accommodation with my colleague Florian from Hagenberg and the two children of the owner. We were living about 20 minutes (by foot) away from the next C-Train station (the public train of the City of Calgary) where we had to take two stops to the UoC. In total, it took us about half an hour for one direction if we walked and about only 15 minutes if we were taking the bus to the station and had luck with the connection.
During my four months we visited the Rockies twice, one time on a private hiking trip with some people of the ILab, the second time during the SurfNet Workshop that was held in September at the UoC. We saw beautiful mountains, enjoyed the fresh air and even saw a bear with his baby. I really liked the landscape, first of all because it reminded me a little bit of Austria (the mountains, lakes, forests) and second because of (other than in Austria) the huge areas with basically no sign of any civilization.
We had an awesome Canadian summer with really nice weather and warm temperatures and also were able to get a little foretaste of the harsh winter. Everyone told us the real Calgarian winter starts at the end of January, and that we are lucky to leave before that. The winter started earlier than in Europe, but except for one weekend were the temperatures fell under -20° (Celsius), which felt like -35 because of the wind, it was not that bad. Maybe we were used to similar conditions, because we are Austrians. Because of the continental climate, it nearly never rained. Everything was pretty dry, especially the meadows that weren’t watered, they looked a little bit like a typical steppe.
The biggest differences for me between Canada and Austria were the imperial system (how many ounces do I get?), that everything was designed for using a car (e.g. for driving to the big shopping centers near the city boundary – with public transport almost impossible), the really big cars, the power sockets at the parking lots (necessary for starting your car during the cold season) and that everyone asks you about how you are, although they don’t expect a real answer, it is more like a greeting phrase.
My stay at the ILab, where I was under the supervision of Sheelagh Carpendale, Tony Tang and the rest of the ILab members, was very informative and interesting. I really think they are a great group with a lot of bright minds. They helped me a lot with my project and their feedback was very important. Outside of the official lab activities, we had a lab barbecue, a Christmas party, some hiking trips, visited a game of the Calgary Hockey and Football team, played paintball for one day and ate a lot of chicken wings during one of the many wings nights.
So if you have the opportunity to go to the ILab (or Canada in general), take the chance!