Interactive Problem Solving: Online Econometrics, Day 2

I am very happy to report that the two biggest problems I had on Monday have been solved. The quizzes we put together for each of the class modules to test engagement with the videos are now working flawlessly. I don’t know why we couldn’t correct mistakes before, but Instructure did something to their servers to fix the problem. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of it.

Second, a very pleasant Zoom support person pointed me to a place in the application settings where I could turn on “Enable dual stream for dual monitor”. This lets me see the whole class on one display and share my slides on my second display. I was also able to turn on a setting that showed everyone’s name under their video. I’m notoriously awful at remembering names, and I shouldn’t have a single awkward “What was your name again?” moment this term.

I opened today’s class by going over the only question they had real trouble with on the module quiz. I broke the solution into pieces and had different students explain each step. In hindsight, I wish I’d had a student that got it wrong explain where they went wrong, since watching someone else solve a problem isn’t optimal–It’s always better to give a student a slight redirection and have them solve it themselves.

For the bulk of the class, we worked through three more problems. I would present the problem and give them 5-10 minutes to try solving it on their own. I’m not sure if this was optimal, but it didn’t seem too short or too long. Next we went around the room working it step by step and everyone had to participate. I would rather have had them work in pairs or groups of three, but we don’t have the technology to do it smoothly yet.

The last 10 minutes of the class I taught one of my favorite lessons: The Monty Hall Problem. I start by laying out the problem and seeing what their intuition is. Instead of jumping straight to the answer, we try to figure out together what’s wrong with the wrong answers. That’s a lot harder than understanding the correct answer. The Monty Hall problem has a lot in common with the Old Woman / Young Girl Illusion in that it’s easy to flip-flop over what you think the correct answer is. With a bit more time, I think it would be valuable to put the problem in terms of conditional and marginal probabilities. This part of the class is all about building “good” intuition and mapping the real world to precise mathematical terms.