Tips and Tricks for Teaching Math Online

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Ideas, guidelines, and best practices for teaching math online posted by a community college professor.

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Tips and Tricks forTeaching Math Online : 

Tips and Tricks forTeaching Math Online By Fred FeldonCoastline Community CollegeFountain Valley, CA April 29, 2008

Slide 2: 

Hello, and Welcome ! Coastline is one of 3 colleges in the District We focus on the nontraditional students and methods of instruction 84% of the math department is enrolled online

Slide 3: 

Why Do Students Take Classes Online? What Are the Success and Retention Rates? What’s Different About Teaching Online? How Much Time Does It Take? Should I Use a Course Management System (CMS) or Start From “Scratch”? How Do You Pick a CMS? You’ve Got Questions…

Slide 4: 

If You “Build It” Will They Come? How Do You Retain Students? How Do You Create a Community of Learners? How Do You Supplement the Course With Your Own Material? How Do You Keep Students From Cheating? Questions… (Con’t)

Why Do Students Take Classes Online? : 

Why Do Students Take Classes Online? Students self-select into online courses Survey says: I enrolled in this class because it was closed at Coastline. Agree: 7% I enrolled in this class because it was closed at another college. Agree: 2% I enrolled because I wanted an online course. Agree: 86% (Source: Survey of Fall 2005 Coastline College DL students)

What Are the Success and Retention Rates? : 

What Are the Success and Retention Rates? Equal to or better than site-based classes Why? Students who are highly motivated and have the right skills self-select into class Online format fosters more independent learning Instructor gives more attention to some students who might otherwise be ignored Students schedule study time with less distractions, greater concentration Students study and interact with anyone rather than just who they sit next to in class

What’s Different About Teaching Online? : 

What’s Different About Teaching Online? CON: There’s a learning curve Probably more time-consuming You see less students face-to-face Number of e-mails increases More work must be done up-front You become “addicted” to the computer

What’s Different About Teaching Online? (Con’t) : 

What’s Different About Teaching Online? (Con’t) PRO: Increased flexibility Travel to and teach from any location Feeling of community is possible!! Equally rewarding and enjoyable Number of students you can reach individually increases Students can collaborate easier Students can be asked to do more on their own--the role of authority is more spread out

What’s Different About Teaching Online? (Con’t) : 

What’s Different About Teaching Online? (Con’t) PRO (Con’t): Assessments (such as homework & quizzes) can be automatically graded, saving time Changes to your course “on the fly” are possible You have time to think and research before answering questions Students are expecting more technology Number of voicemails decreases Supplemental and enrichment material can be more timely--and look better too (see following examples)

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Answer: 5th Square No. 4th Triangular No. n th Square No. n -1 Triangular No.

A Fly in the Room : 

A Fly in the Room Two walls and the ceiling of a room meet at right angles at point P. A fly is in the air one foot from one wall, eight feet from the other wall, and nine feet from point P. How many feet is the fly from the ceiling?

Answer : 

Answer A 3-dimensional box with the point P in one corner and the fly in another is shown. Use the Pythagorean Theorem first to get the diagonal on the bottom, then again to get the distance x to the ceiling. The answer is 4 feet.

Arc To Area : 

Arc To Area The arc below has a measure of 40 degrees, and its endpoints are at (1,5) and (5,3). Find the area of the circle that contains the arc.

Answer : 

Answer To find the answer you don’t need to know where the center is, you just have to find the radius. Draw a picture, put a point about where the center might be, draw a triangle, label everything you know and go from there. You can use the Law of Sines or split the triangle in two (a 20-90-70 triangle) and use trig to get the length of the radius, about 6.5382, so the area of the circle is about 134.28 square units.

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Mathematical Misfit Which fits best: a square peg in a round hole, or a round peg in a square hole?   To be more precise, if you take a circle and fit it just inside a square, or take a square and fit it just inside a circle, which fills up proportionally the most space?

Answer: Take a Square whose side = 1 unit, and a circle which just fits inside. Area of Circle/Area of Square = (1/2)2 / 1 = /4 = 0.785.Take a Circle whose diameter = 1 unit, and a square which just fits inside. Area of Square/Area of Circle = (1/ )2 / ( (1/2)2) = 2/ = 0.637.Since /4 > 2/ , the round peg fills up proportionally more space and therefore fits better in the square hole than the square peg fits in the round hole! : 

Answer: Take a Square whose side = 1 unit, and a circle which just fits inside. Area of Circle/Area of Square = (1/2)2 / 1 = /4 = 0.785.Take a Circle whose diameter = 1 unit, and a square which just fits inside. Area of Square/Area of Circle = (1/ )2 / ( (1/2)2) = 2/ = 0.637.Since /4 > 2/ , the round peg fills up proportionally more space and therefore fits better in the square hole than the square peg fits in the round hole!

The Shrinking Watermelon : 

The Shrinking Watermelon Yesterday you bought a huge 100-pound watermelon that was 90% water. You left it outside in the hot sun. Some of the water evaporated, so it is now 80% water. How much does it weigh now?

Answer : 

Answer The 10 pounds of fruit that didn’t evaporate is still there. That now must represent 20%, or one-fifth, of the shrunken watermelon. So the watermelon must weigh 50 pounds.

Slide 21: 

From Images of Mathematicians on Postage Stamps: The Impossible Figures of Oscar Reutersvard, Sweden, 1982

How Much Time Does It Take? : 

How Much Time Does It Take? Equal to or more than site-based classes To minimize that: Don’t “reinvent the wheel.” Use a Course Management System (CMS) Share online material with other faculty in your department Discourage the use of e-mail; encourage use of the discussion board

How Much Time Does It Take? : 

How Much Time Does It Take? Respond to e-mails with, “That’s a good question. Could you do me a favor? Other students may be wondering the same thing. Could you please post your question on the Discussion Board? I promise to reply right away. Thanks!” Then do so. Prioritize student contact and your time as follows: (1) Discussion Board (2) E-mail (3) Voicemail

Should I Start From “Scratch” or Use a Course Management System (CMS)? : 

Should I Start From “Scratch” or Use a Course Management System (CMS)? Absolutely! Available FREE from a variety of publishers pre-loaded with textbook-specific content and numerous features. Here’s what to look for:

How Do You Pick a CMS? : 

How Do You Pick a CMS? Internet-based, available from any computer Easy to register for, easy to use Textbook-specific instructional material including videos, interactive exercises and tutorials Algorithmic assessments that can also be printed out in hard-copy Gradebook with full edit/import/export capabilities Communication features including e-mail to all or select students, live chat, and asynchronous, threaded discussion

How Do You Pick a CMS? (Con’t) : 

How Do You Pick a CMS? (Con’t) 7. Attractive design 8. Flexibility - Works right “out of the box” plus allows for extensive customization, enhancement, and modification - Works in a variety of instructional modes including online, traditional classroom, and hybrid environments 9. Tech support included free, by e-mail and phone 10. Parent corporation welcomes input and provides frequent updates and improvements 11. Free to students, free to instructors, free to the college, with purchase of a textbook; or access is available separately

If You Build It, Will They Come?How Do You Retain Students?How Do You Create a Community of Learners? : 

If You Build It, Will They Come?How Do You Retain Students?How Do You Create a Community of Learners? Your participation is key Students will “follow your lead” Require a Student Bio be posted the first week Discourage other forms of communication and focus on the Discussion Board Visit Discussion Board every day, before you open your e-mail, before you check voicemail Thank students by name, acknowledge their involvement, make every message positive

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) : 

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) Post items that invite and encourage students to visit the Discussion Board: Extra Credit problems “first-come, first-served” Require students to explain their thinking Hints to succeed in the class, “hot tips” for exams Current articles or other items of interest (see examples) Comics and cartoons (see examples) Helpful links such as: How To Type Math On a Keyboard http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.typing.math.html Graphing Calculator Instructions http://www.prenhall.com/divisions/esm/app/calculator/

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) : 

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) Online Netiquette http://www.onlinenetiquette.com/netiquette_101.html Biographies of Famous Mathematicians http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/history MathWorld http://mathworld.wolfram.com Math Reference Tables http://www.math2.org Music and Math http://www.mindinstitute.net/MIND3/mozart/mozart.php OnLineConversion.com http://www.onlineconversion.com

Slide 30: 

Recent Time magazine article: Subjects in an experiment did math problems and made fewer errors with a pet in the room, compared to with their friends, their spouse, or alone!

Slide 31: 

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog!”

Slide 32: 

Adapting to Technology

Slide 33: 

Adapting to Technology

Slide 34: 

Adapting to Technology

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) : 

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) “Reach Out” at regular intervals Send e-mail to all students 1-2 weeks after semester begins Send e-mail 1-2 weeks later, to students with little or no activity, asking how you can help Send e-mail before the Midterm, with study suggestions and wishing them luck Post “Tips for the Midterm” on the Discussion Board (e.g. discuss the most frequently-missed problem from last semester) Send e-mail before drop deadline encouraging catch-up or suggesting withdrawal

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) : 

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) Be flexible Have a schedule students should follow, but allow full credit for quizzes and homework (algorithmic), no matter when they’re done Have several different forms (I have 6) of the Midterm and Final for flexibility Expect and allow some students to get a late start Expect and allow some students to finish late (give them an “F” then change their grade later)

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) : 

Building a Community of Learners (Con’t) Encourage student-to-student interaction Form groups Homogeneous or random? Assign peer-evaluated projects or papers Praise students for helping each other (public acknowledgement on the Discussion Board or privately in an e-mail) Choose a student or group of students to be in the “hot seat” for a question (students need to learn how to explain their thinking, justify an answer, and com-municate mathematically)

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material Some suggested products: Screen capture programs like Camtasia and SnagIt at www.techsmith.com or ScreenWatch at www .screenwatch.com Movie-making software from Visual Communicator at www.seriousmagic .com Smart boards and tablets from Smart Technologies at www2 .smarttech.com and The io2 Digital Pen at www.logitech.com Create a video in your college studio or a Podcast from home Use a Tablet PC to “ink” your lectures and review sessions Microsoft PowerPoint or Movie Maker plus a webcam, digital video cam, or your digital still camera and a microphone Web conferencing technology like WebEx or GoToMeeting or CCCConfer (in California)

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) Tablet PCs available from Toshiba, Fujitsu, HP, Gateway, and others I use a “pure slate” Tablet from www.motioncomputing .com

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) Solve problem and show your work then print to PDF and attach the file to Discussion Board message, e-mail to students, or post to course Website:

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) See actual video at:http://web.ccc.cccd.edu:8080/ramgen/2/math/math100_calculator.smil

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) The presenter created a video showing students how to use MyMathLab to be successful in the course See actual video at:http://dl.coastline.edu/classes/internet/math100/mymathlab.asx

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) : 

Supplement the Course With Your Own Material (Con’t) Instructor-created video on curve fitting and regression analysis See actual video at:http://www.coastline.edu/departments.cfm?LinkID=890

How Do You Keep Students From Cheating? : 

How Do You Keep Students From Cheating? Make online assessments like quizzes and homework worth a small part of their grade Quizzes and homework are algorithmic Add Projects for part of their grade Students in one class watch the PBS Life By the Numbers series featuring Danny Glover and write a 2-3 page paper Another course (Math for Elementary Teachers) visits K-8 classrooms to observe, to deliver a math lesson; each student writes a report that the entire class reads and discusses.

How Do You Keep Students From Cheating? (Con’t) : 

How Do You Keep Students From Cheating? (Con’t) Midterm and Final Exams are open-ended, free-response and worth a total of 60-70% of their grade; ID is checked Have multiple versions (I have 6 different forms of the Midterm and Final each) Require students to show work on test Anecdotal evidence: student work is authentic Scores for online work matches scores on Midterm and Final taken with me or by Proctors who check ID

Thank You! : 

Thank You! Fred Feldon Math Department Chair Coastline Community College ffeldon@coastline.edu Check out a live course! Visit http://www.coursecompass.com Login: coastlinemath100 password: student100 For Quantitative Reasoning (a Liberal Arts Math Course)

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