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Virginia Tech Math Emporium. Visit – March 2007. Located in a strip mall about 10 walking minutes from campus. Serves as “anchor store” of the mall. Entrance. Reception/security area - The Emporium is open 24 hours 7 days a week. 540 IMacs available, not only for math students.

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Virginia tech math emporium

Virginia TechMath Emporium

Visit – March 2007




Virginia tech math emporium

Entrance campus.





Virginia tech math emporium

A “pod” consists of six workspaces, each with adjoining desk areas.

Students ask for assistance by placing the red cup on top of their computer.



Virginia tech math emporium

  • Started in 1996 neighboring students.

  • Championed by Mike Williams, Math Professor and (at the time) Director of VT’s IT department

  • Initial motivation: Financial crisis at VT

  • First course: Matrix Algebra freshman course for Engineering students

  • Supported by the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT)


Virginia tech math emporium

  • Completely on-computer/online – no classes except for a short orientation session in the first week of classes

  • Considerable cost savings

  • Student success and retention somewhat similar to traditional classes; format does not seem very popular with students

  • Problem: topics of high conceptual demand (e.g., eigenvalues/eigenvectors)


Virginia tech math emporium

  • Support personnel (UG and GR students, instructors, professors) available Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

  • Teaching credit formula: 1 TLC = 2 hours on the “floor”.

  • One helper for every 24-30 students

  • Software and coursework developed in-house.

  • Needs careful planning – IT, crisis management protocols, lab has raised floor…


Virginia tech math emporium


Virginia tech math emporium

  • As of today the following courses are “taught” in this format:

    • Matrix Algebra

    • College Algebra

    • Precalculus

    • Calculus for Business and Life Sciences

    • Next: Mathematics for Architecture

  • Considered “worthwhile” when enrollment exceeds 500 students per year.

  • Not used for the Engineering Calculus sequence