Math Department Combines Lectures with Online Lab

Byline: by Mallory Sunderland

Posted: April 14, 2013

The Wilson College Math Department, of the Mathmatics and Computer Science Department, is moving in a new direction. It is moving into the realm of online classes.

The new classes are not strictly online, but rather a hybrid of an online class and a traditional classroom. The professor lectures a traditional class, but all class work is done online. This includes tests and homework. There are currently two classes and 55 students using this format.

The online portion of the math classes is called MyMathLab. Students did not have to buy a textbook, but only had to pay a fee to use the site. The site has video lectures, many helpful practice problems and even immediate assistance and feedback for students.

Dr. Justin Lawrence first began implementing this new system for the Math Department. “I think the key benefit for this is the fact that you have access to an awful lot of practice problems and for each practice problem you have instant feedback,” said Lawrence.

Online coursework poses new issues for students

While online coursework seems to be the new trend, students have expressed some concerns about this transition.
“The homework is really annoying sometimes because of the way you have to type answers in,” said Allisyn Mahaney ‘16.

There is worry over how answers appear compared to traditional methods. In most math classes, partial credit is given for correct formats and answers. The online tools in MyMathLab, have different settings where parameters can be changed to allow partial credit for correct answers in multiple part questions. Another feature for both tests and homework is that answers can be slightly off (decimal places) and not count against the student.

Online class work can have other issues. “It went down on me one time. It was the night before it was due and I wasn’t allowed to have anymore time… I didn’t get credit for that homework,” said Mahaney.

Server crashes can happen with Internet sites, but the MyMathLab is hardly ever seen to be offline.“You very rarely see the website down outside of maintenance times,” said Lawrence.

Maintenance occurs only on weekends and during the early morning. If the website crashes at any other point, Lawrence is notified.

Last Updated: April 20, 2013

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