Mathematics Delivery using Online Distributed Learning Systems at RMIT

Gary Fitz-Gerald
RMIT University
124 Latrobe St, Melbourne. Victoria. 3000.


Distributed Learning Systems provide the opportunity to enhance the delivery of mathematics subjects using a variety of web-based tools that permit both staff-student and student-student interaction. Within the two main Distributed Learning Systems currently being benchmarked at RMIT, the tools available include: email, discussion lists, virtual chat, web-based shared workspace, joint document storage facilities, Maple and a variety of testing and survey capabilities. From a mathematics point of view most of the available generic testing tools are of limited use, but Weblearn - a product developed at RMIT - is an exception. In this paper I will describe in some detail the two main systems (SERF and Online@RMIT) currently being used by the mathematics department at RMIT, and how the available tools are used to support the delivery of mathematics subjects from within these systems. In particular, I will: (1) Describe the student-centred testing and feedback capabilities of the package Weblearn. This package is undergoing continual development at RMIT and forms an integral part of the Online@RMIT suite of programs - within SERF it is used as an external program; (2) Explain how we are currently using Weblearn to distribute "drill-type" and diagnostic questions in several of the large-enrolment first year subjects at RMIT; (3) Provide examples of how the mathematics department has commenced using the Distributed Learning Systems in their teaching programmes; and (4) Anticipate, based on the experience obtained so far, how we plan to use such Distributed Learning Systems in the future.

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