A Webcomic Presentation for SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive is one of the major conventions for innovative techniques in pop culture. For 2011, I've submitted a proposal of my own related to the Create a Comic Project: "Interactive Comics: Techniques to Enhance Math Education." This year, from what I can tell, it's the only submission dealing with webcomics and one of the few touching on comics in general.

In order to be selected, proposals have to earn a positive response from the public in addition to the judges. I'm hoping you'll take the time to register with SXSW's Panel Picker and vote for it so webcomics can be represented alongside of SXSW's other major technological innovations.

Here's the presentation description:

Comics have a long history of use in education and promoting understanding in a wide range of topics from English to history to public health. This presentation covers multiple levels of the employment of comics in math education, beginning with simple classroom activities, moving into mathematics pedagogical research methodology, and delving into advanced cognitive research to explore the mechanisms of how comics reinforce instruction.

As a teaching tool, comics are inherently well suited for patterns, geometric shapes, and visual representations of data. They can be a form of stealth teaching – engaging students to think creatively about mathematics, helping instill intrinsic motivation and improving long-term retention.

Accurate assessment of math attitudes and learning environments is a key challenge in addressing discrepancies in knowledge and performance. Comicvoice, a research method using comics to collect individual perspectives and has demonstrated utility in exploring similar public health topics, has strong applicability to this problem.

Navigating the symbolic language of math is a known barrier for many students. Current research into how the brain translates concepts and similarities suggests that comics provide a pathway for alleviating this barrier through the very nature of being “sequential art.” By traversing through each of these stages, a holistic picture of comics’ place in the development of advanced math pedagogical techniques becomes clear.