Technology in Locally
and Remotely Taught Mathematics
Courses
Bob Margolis
Faculty of Mathematics Computing
Open University
r.j.margolis@open.ac.uk
Abstract
This paper discusses a number of issues
that arise when locally or remotely
taught mathematics courses use computerbased
technology. The main question addressed
is:
``given a course to teach,
what are the most appropriate methods
and software tools available?''
By reference to some current and
planned United Kingdom practice,
various roles for computers are
considered: presentation of material,
tutorstudent and studentstudent
interaction and mathematical processing.
The strengths and weaknesses of
some existing software tools are
discussed.
The approach is to start with
the assumption that a course is
required covering a specified mathematical
area. As a first step, possible
media (in the widest sense) for
teaching the material are discussed
both for students taught by staff
on the same campus and for students
remote from the staff. Secondly,
the uses of email and other forms
of electronic conferencing are considered
for overcoming some of the problems
of remote students. Finally, the
use of a computer as a mathematical
tool for tackling problems is discussed.
Rather than discuss the ideas
in abstraction, a course on some
aspects of discrete mathematics
is used as a case study although
other subject areas are referred
to where necessary.
The thesis of the paper is that
making sensible use of computer
systems in teaching requires careful
planning and, potentially, the acquisition
of a number of skills new to some
academic staff. Nevertheless, the
possibility of increasing the effectiveness
of teaching makes the effort invested
worthwhile.
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