III. My Current Practice The task of updating and improving my online math system athttp://mathxl.comcontinues throughout the year.
Details are available at my faculty website, my Google Plus site and YouTube Channel as well as in my online classroom
This is also a 52 week a year task. Pearson Ed, our math textbook publisher who provides the site, regularly makes changes to its site that I need to keep up on. There are two MathXL updates in the month of July that I will need to master and then implement in my online classrooms in time for the Fall 2014 term.
I begin my orientation to the online classroom by welcoming Fall 2014 student in mid-August.
The Study Plan Manager allows the instructor to customize the assignments the system will assign. With the newest version of our textbook, Pearson has added an adaptive learning tool. This is not new idea. Thirty years ago Camosun ABE instructor Jack Crane had a similar paper-based system for teaching math. The computer connected to the Internet makes it far easier to create an adaptive, mastery based learning system.
When a student completes a pre-test it analyses their responses and assigns homework, not just on what they got wrong, but also on the concepts that underpin a particular concept. For example, if they have trouble adding fractions with different denominators, it will suggest they need to also do work on finding lowest common multiples.
Click on the Study Plan Manager menu item to access the settings for this tool. The Adaptive Study Plan button allows you to turn this feature on or off.
Mastery Settings allows you to select which which assignments you want the system to use and what the mastery level for each should be. The Assigned Homework option is turned off by default. I set Assigned Tests to 75& and Assigned Quizzes to 80%. The default for the Quiz Mes is set at 100%. The animator of today’s session, Donna Densmore, recommended allowing the student to get a least one wrong here, so I have set mine to 80%.
Coverage and Scoring allows you to choose which objectives of the course to include in the Study Plan as well as what questions to make available for practice. You can drill right down to the question level to decide which question to include. Donna recommends making all of the textbook content available to students, but then exclude the objectives that are not covered in the course. That way if a student want to practice concepts that are not directly covered in the course for review or personal interest, they are available to them.
We then saw a demonstration of how to create assignments mastery levels set as prerequisites before a student can attempt then. This is an area I am already familiar with. However, there looks to be a learning curve to properly implementing the new features described above. Looks like my summer is going to be busy getting my new classroom ready to accept student in mid-August.
Pearson, our textbook publisher, upgrades their MathXL system twice a year. Today I attended one of their Webinar animated by Donna Densmore. She showcased the new features that are part of the Summer 2014 upgrade for MyMathLab, MyStatLab, MathXL, and MyMathTest.
In addition to new support for tablets, there was an upgrades to the Study Plan Manager and the addition of a new Reporting Dashboard in the Gradebook area. Click on the News link at the bottom of the page at http://mathxl.com for a summary of all the new features.
MathXL uses Adobe Flash for its assignments. Flash does not work on most tablets. They now are making the assignments available with HTML 5 which does work. I have tested this out on my iPad and it works well.
A new feature allows you to assign Study Plan exercises before a student attempts a quiz or test. This would be particularly useful as a review before a major test. The student could be prevented from writing the test until they had completed the assigned Study Plan exercises.
The Reporting Dashboard, available in the Gradebook area, provided detailed graphical reports on progress in your online classroom. These reports can be shared with any colleagues who have a MathXL login id.
Tomorrow I attend a session on Strategies for Adaptive Learning. The old version of MathXL already allows me to pre and post-test students and then assign Study Plan assignments based on their results. I will be interested in seeing how the upgraded MathXL system improves on this.
Here you will find postings I have made about different professional and schedule development activities I have been involved in over my recent time as a college math instructor at Camosun College. You will also find posts at my Google Plus account. See below for a link to that.
I have been an instructor at Camosun College since 1987. In that time I have been an active participant in and evaluator of the use of educational technology to help faculty, staff and students gain digital literacy skills.
In 1995 as an outcome of my master’s degree, I began Learning Webs, a project to develop and deliver online instructional materials for adult upgrading students. These are currently being delivered both online and in a blended mode in partnership with local community learning centres.
In my spare time, I like to read fiction and biographies as well as restore vehicles. I recently built a shop to facilitate that passion. You can read about the summer 2011 project at http://www.carbucks.ca/?p=11. Next up is an 83 Honda Magna V65. At the time it was claimed to be the world’s fastest production motorcycle. While I still have a need for speed, that bike is now up for sale, as I has been sold so I can focus on more practical machines. In that vein, I also have two Triumph TR8s, an ’80 that needs a new water pump and paint job and an ’82 that is in ‘collector plate’ condition.
I love my iPad, but one of the frustrating things is not being able to access all my content in my online classroom at http://mathxl.com — at least until now. Steve Jobs decided early on that Apple iPhone, iTouch (iPod) and iPad products would not support Adobe’s Flash. This was despite the fact that many websites, including MathXL, use Flash as an integral part of their site. You can read Jobs’ rationale here. Steve is having the last laugh, from the grave, as Adobe will no longer release new versions for upcoming mobile devices, browser and operating systems.
So until Pearson updates MathXL to work with HTML 5, we are stuck with Flash. Fortunately there is a work around. iSwifter lets you browse flash content right on your iPad. There is a cost to the product. Last time I checked it was $4.99. After spending some time with it, I found it a bit awkward to use on the iPad. The multi-touch did not work as it does in other browsers. The big omission, however, is that it only works with a Wi-Fi connection and NOT 3G or 4G. Next I tested Skyfire for iPad. Skyfire won’t run at all with MathXL. It seems to be more games oriented. So back to iSwifter, that will at least let you into the MathXL classroom.