Sunday, 10 February 2013

Creating inclusive mathematics notes using pandoc

For my pcutl portfolio we have recently been considering inclusivity and diversity. One particular issue that has grabbed my attention is distribution of teaching materials. In particular some students (some with Dyslexia for example) find reading plan black on white pdfs difficult. As such they'd rather have notes in a format that they might be able to modify.

As a math teacher there's not much we can do about distributing pdfs made with LaTeX apart from making the LaTeX code itself available.

I looked around a bit and discovered pandoc which is awesome. It allows you to create multiple formats of any particular file. I discussed this with my pcutl group at some point and here's a pic of the main idea we put together:

This works pretty well and I've been using it for a while. In particular it's great for mathematics as pandocs "flavour" of markdown allows for LaTeX.

It started taking me a while to "bash" my way through "pandocing" all my files in any given folder so I wrote a python script that will take all markdown files in a particular directory and spit out html, pdf and docx versions of the file.

Here's a video demoing the script:

The github directory can be found here:

If anyone has any other neat things like pandoc I'd love to hear about them...

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Books and Papers I'd have liked to review

This is the 8th post in my blog series reviewing a bunch of education literature. If they're of interest here are the previous posts in the series:
  1. "When good teaching leads to bad results: The disasters of well taught Mathematics courses" by Alan Schoenfeld
  2. "A quick-start guide to the moore method" by Mahavier et al.
  3. "The inverted classroom in a large enrolment introductory physics course: a case study" by Simon Bates and Ross Galloway
  4. "Approaches to Learning: A Guide for Teachers" by Jordan et al.
  5. "A Characterization of Social Networks for Effective Communication and Collaboration in Computing Education" by G. Gannod and K. Bachman.
  6. "Bloom's Taxonomy Interpreted for Mathematics" by Lindsay Shorser
  7. "Enhancing University Teaching: Lessons from Research into Award-Winning Teachers" by David Kember and Carmel McNaught
In this post I won't be reviewing any particular piece of literature. In fact this post will be the last one in this series as I've run out of time and momentum. I spent the past week working like crazy on my pcutl portfolio and so I didn't have the time to blog about some of the texts I've read through.

In this post I'll simply list some literature that I'd have liked to blog about if I had the time.


  1. "The effects of the classroom flip on the learning environment: a comparison of learning activity in a traditional classroom and a flip classroom that used an intelligent tutoring system" by Strayer
  2. "Inclusion and Diversity, meeting the needs of all students" by Gravestock
  3. "Problem-Based Learning: An Inquiry Approach" by Barell
  4. "Teaching for Quality Learning at University" by Biggs and Tang
  5. "Problem-based Learning: Case Studies, Experience and Practice (Case Studies of Teaching in Higher Education)" by Schwartz et al.
  6. "The Moore Method: A Pathway to Learner-Centered Instruction" by Coppin et al.


  1. "Technology in the classroom: Burning the bridges to the gaps in gender-biased education?" by Plumm
  2. "The Ef├»¬cacy of Podcasting Technology in Instructional Delivery" by McCombs and Liu
  3. "Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning" by Dabbagh and Kitsantas
  4. "An introduction to threshold concepts" by Cousin
  5. "The behaviourist approach: the basics" by Aidan Sammons
  6. "Evaluation of the IBL Mathematics Project: Student and Instructor Outcomes of Inquiry-Based Learning in College Mathematics" by Laursen et al.
  7. "Why and how mathematicians read proofs: an exploratory study" by Weber et al.
  8. "Extreme Apprenticeship Method in Teaching Programming for Beginners"
That is just a small selection of papers and books, I'm sure I'm missing out a bunch of excellent ones that were pointed out to me on G+ and elsewhere.

I thought I'd also include a section on blogs. There are some awesome bloggers around that post some great stuff about education, I most certainly will forget a bunch of great ones but here they are (where possible I've also linked to their G+ profile, that's probably where I met them).


  1. +Theron Hitchman's blog: Circles and Tangents
  2. +Dana Ernst's blog:
  3. +Stan Yoshinobu's blog: The IBL Blog
  4. +David Richeson's blog: Division by zero
  5. +Raymond Johnson's blog:
  6. +Patrick Honner's blog:
  7. +Bret Benesh's blog: Solvable by Radicals
  8. +John Baez's blog: Azimuth
I'm sure I'm forgetting some great ones that I probably check quite regularly...

There's also a list of resources that Dana Ernst put together that I'd recommend taking a look at here.


I've enjoyed reviewing papers and blogging about them. I might well continue to do so. If it's of interest the post in the series that got the most reads is my review of a paper offering evidence for a flipped classroom.

In all the posts of this series I gave a mark out of 10 to each paper as far as usefulness to my PCUTL portfolio is concerned. Without a doubt the most useful piece of literature is "Approaches to Learning: A Guide for Teachers" by Jordan et al.. I really recommend that book: it's great.