http://prezi.com/aww2hjfyil0u/math-is-not-linear/

Math is not linear. This Prezi file reviews a concept we all know is true not only about Mathematics, but also about statistics. I know, as I spend the first three weeks of a regular semester (or the first two class periods or so of the summer semester) providing students with foundational knowledge to help them to better conceptualize statistics. While this is happening students seem to beg for a step by step linear sequence, but statistics simply doesn’t work like that, as concepts and practices are often interrelated, and hardly linear. Of course, we all know that if students are missing a fundamental concept, whether it is order of operations or sampling error, their ability to understand statistical hypothesis testing is minimized, so there is some temporal requisites.

As I was looking at this Prezi demonstration, thinking about how math and statistics are not linear, I wondered … is this why I do not care for using PowerPoint in the classroom? As I thought, I realized it is precisely because PowerPoint doesn’t permit me to have the flexibility to circle around easily or in a visual way that the chalk and chalk board does. I also find that I tend not to provide enough background knowledge, or even, for that matter, go off on a student driven, yet appropriate tangent, those “Teachable Moments” where students seem to learn so much more in a 10 minutes than they often learn in an entire class period simply because they want to know the answer to a question. Yes, I have yet to find the means to build a PowerPoint slide that provides me with that kind of flexibility in teaching.

However, then I saw a student presentation using the software Prezi. (Prezi.com) This presentation software is, as you can see from the sample link above, more flexible and enables a less linear presentation and a more structural one. Though I will admit to not using it in teaching statistics … it certainly seems worth mentioning in the blog for those of you looking toward updating your technological presentations in your applied statistics classes. As statistics is not linear nor is Prezi, it very way may help students get a better “big picture” / “fine detailed” conceptual understanding of statistics.

I encourage anyone who has used Prezi in teaching applied statistics to share your experiences with us.

Today, we end our month of discussing technology in the teaching of applied statistics. I do encourage all of you to get “unplugged” at least for a little bit during this summer.

For the months of June and July we will be talking about how to teach the difficult topics in applied statistics. If you have a topic you would like for us to address, please let us know.