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The challenges and benefits of using technology in Mathematics Support Dr. Ciarán Mac an Bhaird NUI Maynooth. 4th Irish Workshop of Mathematics Learning and Support Centres. December 2009 DCU
Overview • Use technology to provide extra resources and opportunities for ‘at-risk’ students. • Advantages: re-usable learning objects, students respond to perceived extra effort, 24 hour access for students, other learning benefits for students, encourages collaboration. • Disadvantages: software and hardware issues, internet access for students, impersonal, expensive costs?
Online Courses • Students who fail Mathematics Proficiency Test are enrolled on the Mathematics Proficiency Course: https://moodle.nuim.ie/2010/ • There is an additional Mathematics Foundation Course principally for non-Mathematics Students who are struggling with the mathematical aspects of their courses.
Easy to analyse records, the course is very easy to edit and maintain. Gives students organised access to material which otherwise would seem overwhelming and intimidating. • Difficulties maintaining high level of participation, students do not always see the relevance to their actual Mathematics modules. Technical difficulties, e.g. being able to view the videos etc. Courses are ‘faceless’, impersonal etc.
Workshops • Follow up workshops each week for students struggling with course material. • Students email tutor requesting issues to be dealt with. • Tutor uses ‘Sympodium’ to present the material. Students can sit and listen to the tutor, ask questions without having to take extensive notes. • Notes posted onto the moodle site for students to access.
Students highlight the benefits of this approach, report an increased understanding of the material because they can listen. They highlight that they can take notes of what the tutor is saying, questions that other students ask etc. • Others report that the handwritten notes are easy to understand, less impersonal than typed notes and the diagrams are easier to follow as they can see how they were produced.
This technology is also used in the First Science Mathematics Workshop. • This course is specifically designed to be student directed and is principally aimed at the weaker students. • The tutor presents issues raised by the students which are usually basic issues to do with their course material. • Examples Conference\Workshop4SciLimits.pdf Conference\Proficiency5.pdf • Main disadvantage is the initial cost of the unit, around €2000, but now being introduced to most theatres.
Other projects • Recording of screencasts and podcasts. • The main purpose is to provide extra resources for students. • Advantages: Re-usable Learning Objects, students can have open access to material, more ‘friendly’ medium, relatively easy to use the software, relatively cheap. • Disadvantages: Extremely time-consuming to create, students can have technical issues viewing the objects.
Examples • Screencast Conference\calculus2(3).wmv • Podcast Conference\8.6.mp3 • Go raibh maith agaibh uilig.