Department of Mathematics - College of Natural Sciences Colorado State University

Distance Mathematics Program

The CSU Distance Mathematics Program Expanding to Include Calculus

The CSU Department of Mathematics has expanded their Distance Learning Program to include calculus. This next step has taken months of preparation and planning. The current director is Dr. Steven Benoit who is a graduate of the department's PhD program. His advisor was Professor Vakhtang Putkaradze.

Over the past four semesters, the Mathematics Department has begun to offer five one-credit mini-courses covering Algebra and Trigonometry to a distance audience through CSU OnlinePlus. This format allows students who work or live away from CSU's campus to earn Mathematics credit toward a degree program. The extensive use of technology in these courses for our on-campus students made this a natural first step in building our distance program, with distance students receiving the same instruction, homework assignments, and exams that our on-campus students receive. Students also have access to live tutoring assistance through a web-based tool with whiteboard, video, audio and text. The program has served over 200 students to date, including students from as far away as South Korea, and the program is growing rapidly.

Development of distance versions of the Calculus sequence for Physical Scientists is under way, with Calculus I and II currently planned for launch in Fall 2013. These courses will offer students hundreds of video examples, online and traditional written homework assignments, and fully proctored exams, covering the same material as the courses for on-campus students. The class will be delivered in parallel with a classroom section taught in SMART classrooms that capture the lecture and students' questions for the distance students. Custom instructional material designed for the distance audience will supplement the traditional instruction. These extra materials will be available to our traditional students as well, supplementing their classroom experience. This program will significantly enhance the portfolio of degree programs that OnlinePlus can offer to students through a distance format and will hopefully provide a foundation for more distance offerings for the Mathematics Department.

Technological Changes Improve Delivery of Distance Courses

Changes to the distance learning program prompted improvements to the Weber 237 classroom with the use of technology and access to state of the art equipment. This classroom is a shared distance learning space with the Statistics Department. The classroom has two SMART boards installed for instructor use. The instructor writes their notes on the primary SMART board and then "moves" the notes to the secondary SMART board after they have filled the screen. A podium at the front of the room contains a computer for the instructor to use with the SMART boards, as well as a Sympodium. The instructor is able to write on either the Sympodium or the SMART board. They may also run data analyses or access internet sites from the computer and display these on the primary SMART board screen for students to view. The primary SMART board screen is captured to video during the taping process. New recording technology (Echo360) allows us to show the SMART board capture in a large portion of the viewing window, with a smaller picture of the instructor showing as well. This allows for a clearer display than what we've been able to achieve in the past with older recording technology, hence allowing the students to take more accurate notes. So far, student reaction to this new technology has been quite positive.

For a demonstration on how a Sympodium and SMART board interact, go to youtube for a demonstration:

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Department of Mathematics| 101 Weber Building | Colorado State University | Fort Collins, CO 80523-1874
Phone: (970) 491-1303 | Contact the Department |

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