Configuring VLEs For Mathematics


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We present how to set up VLEs to accommodate mathematics learning. We concentrate on the popular open source Moodle platform and introduce input filters to conveniently write and display mathematical formulas. Moreover, we present techniques for doing interactive math questions in Moodle.

Presentation in the JTEL Summer School, 2009/06/05, Slovakia. Funded by Funded by

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Configuring VLEs For Mathematics

  1. 1. Configuring VLEs for Mathematics Matti Pauna & Olga Caprotti University of Helsinki Work co-funded by the EU project JEM-Joining Educational Mathematics ECP-2005-EDU-038208
  2. 2. Math in virtual learning environments !! Mathematical subject areas, e.g. physics, chemistry, and CS require correct displaying and interaction with mathematical content in learning platforms !! e.g. for a meaningful discussion in science courses learners need to be able to write math in a convenient way !! e.g. for a richer learning experience: !! calculate with formulas, !! allow answering to questions by formulas, !! displaying graphs, !! do animations
  3. 3. Mathematics on the web Support for mathematics has been disregarded by developers of web technologies: !! e.g. MathML, for displaying formulas in web pages, is still not supported natively by all the browsers. !! Content management systems, and Web2.0 tools (facebook, wikis, blogs) fail to include ways for rendering formulas. Special plugins and viewers are often required. Expert configuration and installation of fonts is also needed. WARNING: science on the web is largely inaccessible.
  4. 4. Online mathematics discussions With no convenient tools for editing mathematics, writing and reading a mathematical discussion becomes cumbersome
  5. 5. VLEs and Mathematics !! Most VLEs provide some functionalities to incorporate mathematical content and learning activities !! Blackboard provides so called “Calculated Numeric Response” question type !! Some VLEs are specially designed for mathematics !! MapleTA and STACK are automated assessment systems designed specifically for training in mathematics
  6. 6. Example: Interactive math questions in MapleTA
  7. 7. Read and Write Mathematics in Moodle
  8. 8. Moodle and mathematics
  9. 9. Writing mathematics in Moodle Moodle provides input filters to edit and render content in different formats, for mathematics: 1.! LaTeX notation: $$ sqrt{x^2+x+1} - sqrt{x^2-x-1} $$ 2.! Algebra input filter, ad-hoc: @@ sqrt(x^2+x+1) - sqrt(x^2-x-1) @@ 3.! WIRIS input filter, which provides a 2D JAVA editor with palettes of usual symbols. The source is MathML! 4.! ASCIIMathML, ad-hoc, renders as MathML: `d/dxf(x)=lim_(h->0)(f(x+h)-f(x))/h`
  10. 10. Filter configuration Usual way
  11. 11. JEM partner: DragMath
  12. 12. JEM partner: WIRIS input filter and editor Collection of palettes Palette
  13. 13. As of May 20, math plugins test package
  14. 14. TinyMCE with mathplugins See also
  15. 15. Issue: rendering Math !! JSMath is cross-browser, uses fonts !! LaTeX rendering via images, does not scale well but works across devices !! ASCIImathML is based on MathML, accessible, require clients tweaking The mathplugin detects MathML support and serves either MathML or an image as a fallback
  16. 16. Math-enabled discussions
  17. 17. Do mathematics in Moodle Tools and activities dealing with mathematics
  18. 18. Math experiential learning !! Dynamic Geometry graphs: !! GeoGebra filter !! Cabri filter !! Computer algebra system: !! WIRIS CAS !! JAVA or Flash applets
  19. 19. WIRIS Calculator
  20. 20. Math quizzes in Moodle !! Multiple-choice More interesting! generate questions from templates by instantiating parameters
  21. 21. Calculated and algebra question types !! Calculated question type allows to define randomized variables to be used in questions. The correct (numerical) solution depends on these values. !! Algebra question type allows also formulas as answers. The correctness can be evaluated point-wise or with a call to the open-source SAGE symbolic manipulation package
  22. 22. STACK questions in Moodle See Chris Sangwin’s tutorial !! STACK questions can also be integrated into Moodle via the Opaque protocol !! STACK provides rich capabilities for mathematics assessment: !! Maxima algorithms !! partial evaluation and grading !! different methods for evaluating the correctness of user’s answer
  23. 23. STACK question in Moodle It is an open answer
  24. 24. Other mathematical content !! Multimedia content is very valuable for explaining a concept or an application, e.g. !! movies !! screencasts !! videolectures !! Quick solution with today’s technology
  25. 25. Conclusions !! Limited off-the-shelf support for mathematics in browsers and web applications !! More and more solutions to ease inclusion of mathematics in learning platforms !! Web standards like MathML contribute to best practice