Aug 252005
 
Authors: Amy Robinson

Sensing a need for more convenience and a desire to push the university further into the World Wide Web, CSU is offering online math classes on a large scale for the first time.

Specifically, students can now study algebra, logarithmic functions and trigonometry from the comfort of their residence hall, apartment or anywhere there is access to the Internet. For those who prefer the lectures and classrooms, those are still offered too.

"An overwhelming majority of students have requested online resources in our annual survey. The online environment gives students better access to instructional resources," wrote Lois Samer , co-director of the Individualized Mathematics Program (IMP), and Anita Pattison , IMP associate director, in an e-mail interview.

The new online offering is important because each student is required to take a total of three math credits to graduate.

"Funding has been provided from a variety of sources including a CSU Academic Enrichment Program grant, tech fee monies and contributions from the Department of Mathematics, the College of Natural Science, the Provost's office, ACNS and Facilities Management. Additional support is being provided by Texas Instruments and the CSU Office of Instructional Services," Samer and Pattison wrote.

The requirements of the online classes are easy. A student must enroll in IMP, which has been in place here for several years, and request to be in either the "student managed" or "instructor-led section."

The math classes available completely online include sections of Logarithmic and Exponential Functions (M CC 124), Numerical Trigonometry (M CC 125) and Analytical Trigonometry (M CC 126).

Once enrolled, a student can do all required homework assignments online, access learning materials and do review exams for each unit.

"Our new format requires homework and mastered review exams, and better ensures that students are learning the material. In the past, some saw our program as encouraging memorization rather than understanding," Samer and Pattison wrote.

Norberto Cruz , junior construction management major, echoed Samer and Pattison's written statements.

"I heard there is a whole bunch of computer homework which helps students out because they go over the material before they take a test," Cruz said. "I prefer the old way of IMP since I am finishing up a course from a previous semester."

Shawn Farnell , mathematics graduate student and IMP instructor, agreed with Cruz.

"The changes to the program are positive, not easier. It has become more structured. The changes prevent procrastination," Farnell said. "The workload is heavier and more like it should be for a three-credit course in five weeks."

Students taking M CC 124, M CC 125, M CC 126 also have the option to listen to and watch actual instructional videos. These remote access videos involve step-by-step descriptions of individual problems according to objective, Samer and Pattison wrote.

For College Algebra in Context I (M CC 117) and College Algebra in Context II (M CC 118) only the homework and review exams are available online.

"The plan is to have these courses completely online in Spring 2006," Samer and Pattison wrote.

Despite the luxury of wrestling with right angles and functions in the comfort of one's pajamas, all students enrolled in online math classes are required to go to the IMP Testing Center in Weber Building Room 138 to take all unit exams.

The tests in M CC 117 and M CC 118 courses are only available in written form at the testing center.

Tests for M CC 124, MCC 125 and M CC 126, on the other hand, are given solely on computers with randomly generated problems. An especially exciting feature is the Texas Instrument Calculator embedded on the assessment platform screen of the computer, said Dr. Paul Kennedy , co-director of the IMP.

Students are able to interact with this online calculator. The calculator will help to eliminate transcription errors when answering math problems, Kennedy said.

"We hope this will be the finest mastery-based pre-calculus program anywhere," Samer and Pattison wrote.

"In the words of one of our returning students who is completing his last trigonometry course: 'In this new course, I'm really learning the material,'" Samer and Pattison wrote.

To access course materials and learn more about IMP visit http://online.math.colostate.edu.

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