Good Teaching is Accessible and Open

2nd half of 14th centuryImage via WikipediaI don’t think Dave Arnold planned on being an innovator in education. The way I understand his work is that he had problems to solve with his math department and they are using every tool at their disposal to solve them. Not math problems, but teaching and learning problems; some that are unique to our area (connecting to people in remote areas) and problems that everyone face (the cost and quality of education). The textbooks did not seem sufficient and they were too expensive, so Dave Arnold, Bruce Wagner and others in the dept. wrote their own textbooks that include online help and examples and quiz banks. I had the pleasure of seeing one of these textbooks in a meeting yesterday. They are written by “The College of the Redwoods Mathematics Department” and they are available at This 612 page Pre-Algebra textbook is available for $14.52. That is a physical book, not an ebook.

Beyond multimodal teaching
We met yesterday to talk about some logistical issues with his class. There is something about this class that transcends all the discussions about online, face-to-face and hybrid teaching modalities. The Math 50 Calculus course that Dave is teaching in the Fall is offered live in the face-to-face classroom, as live interactive teleconference being sent out to two off campus sites, as a webstream from a web page, via cable television and “on-the-air” (yes, they still do that here) through Access Humboldt and KEET (a local public television station). All of these options have a phone number and email address for students to ask questions live. These broadcasts are being archived and close-captioned with a copy going to the library. If that wasn’t enough, Dave is offering three office hours a week through CCC Confer (Elluminate) which is web conferencing software to connect with students and answer questions.
How innovation happens
All of this has evolved over time. My point here is that technology was not the solution in itself. What happened was that over the years, a dept and a teacher was presented with very particular problems and engaged the campus and community to create opportunities and solutions. The local high schools have cut back on Calculus. More and more k-12 districts are relying on the local community colleges to step in.
All of the solutions and opportunities that Dave Arnold has decided to use in his course not only solve the problems he and the dept. were looking to solve, but it just so happens to make the course more accessible and open to a wide variety of students. This is why I am so excited about his courses; I got involved in education in the first place to see this happen. We have to be the ones who open the doors.

College of the Redwoods offers three semester calculus sequence
This press release went out yesterday announcing the class.
I am expecting that we are going to see enrollments from high school students, local engineering firms, and others.

Links to the textbooks
Oh, yes – the textbooks are also available for free to students online. They can get a hard copy or a CD at the bookstore
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