Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Virtual Math!

Here is a current update of an earlier post here:

For the last few years, the Mathematics Department have been running online versions some of our freshman and sophomore level service courses (110.108-9 Calculus I-II, 110.201 Linear Algebra, 110.202 Calculus III and 110.302 Differential Equations). Designed and implemented inhouse, these course run for seven weeks in the summer, co-instructed by two of our graduate students each, and are identical in every other way to the in-class versions we run during the regular semesters. This year's version start this next week, on June 15th.

The design philosophies of these courses center around two fundamental principles:
  1. The courses sacrifice nothing, both in content and in implementation, from the standard in-class, lecture-based version of the course (which ran concurrently in the summer).

  2. The courses feature live, online lecturing, as well as live recitation sessions, as a core part of the instruction (currently we are the only implementation of online education using fully interactive and live lecturing, I believe; Tell me if I am mistaken. It's hard to keep up).

The implementation of this endeavor is facilitated by a software package called Elluminate Live! (ELive!), a virtual classroom environment that features (screen shot at right):

  • an online virtual whiteboard which acts like a chalkboard.

  • streaming audio,

  • Powerpoint-style slides that can be superimposed on the whiteboard and written over,

  • Classroom attendance moderation,

  • full student interaction including notification of a "raised hand", side chatroom (fully monitored by the instructor, voice and/or whiteboard enabling for each students or students,

  • full recording of live sessions for asynchronous reviewing later, with time stamps for accompanying notes.

Course document management is handled via the WebCT course management software. Homework is done the old fashioned way, but submitted via fax and/or email and graded electronically, and exams are proctored locally. For more details, see the Math Department's webpage.

Past results have been excellent, and this summer we are offering four of our courses in this format (all of the above with the exception of 110.108 Calculus I). I can provide tons more information is anyone is interested.

Thought I would throw this out there again. Cheers....


tanman said...

I had a TA use Elluminate Live for a review session for my Honors Multivariable class a few years ago - it's a really cool technology, especially since we could hear the TA talking while he was writing on the whiteboard, and we could ask questions orally and point to/make notes on the board. Seems like this would be far better than most online pre-recorded video lecture or text chat-based classes

Richard Brown said...

Ahh. The essence of our version of online instruction. We are encouraging even our TAs of regular in-class courses during the semester to use ELive for review sessions and such.

It's great to hear your endorsement of the practice.