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WeBWorK symposium and mini-conference at Madison, WI (Mathfest 2008)

WeBWorK symposium and mini-conference at Madison, WI (Mathfest 2008)

by Michael Gage -
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Late afternoon on Friday, Aug 1, a small contingent of WeBWorK aficionado's gathered on the Memorial Union Terrace of the University of Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Mendota to drink beer, enjoy the beautiful, breezy summer evening and discuss all things WeBWorK.

On Sunday, the day after Mathfest, a working group of WeBWorK developers (many alumni of the AIM-WeBWorK workshop) gathered in U. of Wisconsin's Van Vleck Hall for a one day mini-conference to discuss progress and make plans for the future. John Heim, the technical support person for WeBWorK at Madison, hosted the event along with Joel Robbin and Matt Petro of the Wisconsin math department.

Also present were Mike Gage & Arnie Pizer from U. of Rochester, Gavin LaRose from U. of Michigan, Karen Clark from The College of New Jersey, Art Grainger from Morgan State University, Robin Cruz from the College of Idaho, Jason Aubrey from the University of Missouri, Bob Byerly from the Texas Tech University, Sam Hathaway- WeBWorK consultant and U. of Rochester alum, and Zsolt Lavicza representing the GeoGebra open source project.

Zsolt's presentation on GeoGebra can be downloaded from where other GeoGebra presentations are also stored.

Among other topics:

A beta prototype for facilitating interactions between GeoGebra applets and other java applets as well as flash applets was presented. While it still requires some technical skill to maintain this interaction the basic macros are ready for experimenters. The next step is to create a substantial body of compelling homework questions using this capability and then to refine the interface so that it is "foolproof" and works on all browsers all the time. :-)
(E-mail gage at if you are interested in writing such questions.)

The compound or sequential problem format in which new parts of the problem are revealed as the student answers the first questions correctly. Karen has used this extensively in classes and her experiences suggests improvement for the existing macros and pose questions about the best educational practices using this question type.

Gavin gave a report on the recent developments using WeBWorK for gateway testing. Jason offered information on creating screencasts for WeBWorK training and other potential uses of the internet to help communications among the WeBWorK community.