On July 7th I spent the last part of the bonus I got for finishing my Dudoc PhD within time: I was able to go to ICME-12. I went there to present my paper (co-authored by Paul Drijvers, as he’s supervised me well, making me an independent researcher) on the effects on a digital intervention on algebraic expertise. This topic also was the title of my thesis. ICME-12 took place in Seoul, South-Korea, a large and bustling city. Compared to the scale of the Netherlands, everything was pretty large. The population, inner Seoul almost 10 mln,greater Seoul almost 30 mln. The size of the buildings. The amount of coffeeshops is staggering. This post only gives a short and incomplete impression of the conference.
To avoid a jetlag the first day was spent visiting a local market and walking the large hill in the centre of Seoul. After this I registered for the conference. The first real conference day started off with the opening ceremony and a first plenary. The first plenary was, of course, a local affair on “Mathematics Education in the National Curriculum System” by Don Hee Lee. It gave an impression of maths education in Asia. It started off a series of plenaries throughout the week. One of the plenaries that stood out for me was that of Etienne Ghys. The rewarding topic was well known, but what I especially loved was the ease of presentation. Standing there relaxed, walking around, slides timed to perfection (and also translated to Korean), and great animations. This is what a good presentation should be. I am curious if less known, and perhaps boring topics, could also be given this royal treatment. It was a shame the plenary by Jo Boaler was cancelled because of illness. Although I’m sure one of her student did a good job in reciting Boalers’s work, I prefer real presentations. I opted to go to a different Regular Lecture.
Throughout the conference I attended Topic Study Group 19 (TSG19) on analysis of uses of technology in the learning of mathematics, chaired by Weigand and Borba. I must say that I knew about most topics already. Some examples of nice project results, to me, were the Virtual Math Teams, now with Geogebra integration. Also, a mobile app -resembling geocaching principles I should add- with maths assignments, stood out. It was especially nice that they had added four assignments within the COEX venue in Seoul where the conference took place. I also was able to present my work (slideshare). However, most papers were summarized by team members from TSG19.
I also attended a Workshop session and a Discussion group. The first was about “How Representation and Communication Infrastructures can enhance mathematics teacher training” and yielded recommendations for teacher training. The latter was about “New Challenges in Developing Dynamic Software for Teaching and Learning Mathematics” and consisted of many short presentations on tools, authoring and assessment. To me, the most interesting discussion was at the end of the second session. Although designers of Sketchpad and Cabri painted a bit of a caricature of open source software, stating that it was only chosen because it was free, these comments did spark a dialogue about the costs of designing good software. I wish there would have been a bit more time to work this out.
The final plenary was given bij Werner Blum, whom I know from the modelling cycle he did with Leiss. This cycle actually had a prominent place in a recent review I did of a thesis. This talk was titled “Quality Teaching of Mathematical Modelling – What Do We Know, What Can We Do?” and described the most important criteria and showed some examples (at the secondary level) of how teachers have successfully implemented criteria for modelling in their classrooms. The last Regular Lecture I attended was by Ilana Horn who talked about “Teachers Learning Together: Pedagogical Reasoning in Mathematics Teachers’ Collaborative Conversations“. I still have to see whether I can use some of these ideas for pre-service teacher training.
The ICME-12 closing ceremony boasted the seriously impressive Korean dancegroup Noreum Machi. In 2016 ICME-13 will be in Europe, Hamburg. Looking forward to another interesting encounter with research on mathematics education.