Tri-C Math Prof's Video Series Garners More Than a Million Views
December 04, 2014
Aaron Altose does things by the numbers.
The assistant professor of math at Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus teaches roughly four courses per semester, for example.
He has been teaching at Tri-C for eight years.
He has made 250 instructional videos, which are posted on YouTube.
Collectively, those videos have also crossed the threshold of 1 million views. That may be de rigueur for cat videos, but it’s notable for a series of instructional videos on a subject that many people try to avoid.
“It was thrilling,” Altose said about watching the views rack up.
Altose started making the videos to avoid the redundancy of some of his after-class study sessions.
“We were just going over problems over and over,” Altose, 36, said. So, he decided to make online videos that describe course concepts. His students could brush up on their skills whenever they wanted.
While the videos have proven useful to students in Northeast Ohio, they have also racked up views from all over the world.
“I get analytics, so I know where people are watching — India, for example. It’s interesting to see people’s reactions,” Altose said.
Altose posted his first video in 2009 for students in his Algebra 2 course. He created the MathWithMisterA channel on YouTube as a convenient way for his students to find the videos.
When the videos began generating the kind of traffic that made them attractive to advertisers, Altose set up a Google site where his students can access the videos without having to view the ads or generate revenue for Altose. Any money he receives from the videos he reinvests in the project, Altose said.
“The math that I was doing, anyone should have access to it,” Altose, who lives in Burton, said.
His YouTube channel now as more than 3,200 subscribers.
Altose’s videos cover topics like factoring polynomials and solving quadratic equations. The videos are graphically simple, done on a writing tablet with Altose narrating.
Before coming to Tri-C, Altose worked in information technology at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, but he found the job was isolating and didn’t like it. So he went back to school, enrolling at Cleveland State University and earning a master’s in math. He started teaching at Tri-C in 2006.
He said math has always been his favorite subject. As a kid, he would entertain himself with flash cards and multiplication tables.
“I have a mathematical way of seeing things,” he said.
He has an unconventional way of teaching the subject, though. “I am trying to draw out what the student already knows . . . People are designed to understand math,” he said. “I don’t want to be in front of a class performing math problems.”
His approach is much more interactive. One of his first projects after coming onboard at Tri-C was to design a classroom that was more of a studio, fostering collaboration. And, essentially, he tricks his students into learning math by presenting problems that are not math problems on the surface, but rather life problems. Altose believes there is not necessarily a right way to solve a problem. He lets his students find their own way to the solutions.
Using a grant from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Altose is also designing math curriculum for non-science students.
For Altose, it all adds up.