Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Decade of IBL Workshops

This past month a team of 41 participants, professional developers, and evaluators converged at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for another IBL Workshop, supported by the National Science Foundation.  This year marks the tenth year, since the first workshops were planned, and hundreds of participants have been implementing IBL, in a variety of forms, to thousands of students.

Attending a workshop is one of the best ways to get going with IBL for math instructors.  Math faculty can work intensely in the summer with experienced IBL Workshop staff,  build courses collaboratively with peers, and take advantage of follow-up support for the following year.  Thereafter, participants can engage ongoing activities and support via the IBL community.  Hence, attending a workshop has many benefits, including higher quality initial implementation of IBL, building connections with other IBLers, and access to the IBL community in the long run.

Interestingly, faculty have targeted a variety of courses.  In the past, the recommendation has been for new IBLers to start their IBL careers in upper-level math courses.   The reason for this is that it is easier to implement IBL in courses, where the students are more mature and there are fewer issues like the coverage issues.  The reasoning is purely based on pragmatic implementation issues, and is still relevant today.  It's relatively easier to implement IBL in upper-level courses, all else equal.  For many, this is not possible or desirable.  As IBL has spread, instructors have been interested in learning to implement IBL in a broader array of courses, including courses for non-math majors.  This makes sense, as some instructors teach at 2-year colleges or have specialized teaching areas. About half of the instructors indicated participants targeting courses for freshmen or sophomores.  Courses participants work on at IBL Workshops include:

  • Math for liberal arts
  • Calculus
  • Precalculus
  • Math for elementary teaching
  • Elementary statistics
  • Lower division Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra (lower division)

IBL is a system for teaching that applies to all levels of Mathematics.  Participants are verifying this by voting with their feet.  Gone are the days of "IBL is for math track students."  Today, IBL has evolved into a broad, flexible framework.   If you are interested in attending an IBL Workshop in the future AND teach college-level Mathematics, more workshops are planned for summer 2016 (pending funding).  Details are forthcoming and will be posted here and sent out via AIBL listservs and the MAA.

Photos from the 2015 IBL Workshop