WeBWorK Consultants

report from 19-Jan-2011 workshop

report from 19-Jan-2011 workshop

by Dick Lane -
Number of replies: 0
I would welcome reports from those WeBWorK consultants who have already conducted a demo/outreach workshop. Outlines (tentative) for new ones would also be informative.

My report for 19-January-2011 has two parts:
a) [this posting] summary of activities
b) [next posting] description of configuration and materials

I broadcast (to my department plus some faculty in Physics and Computer Science) an email announcement [attached] two weeks before start of our Spring semester. Since a majority of respondents had attended my colloquium talk Online Homework for Math [http://lennes.math.umt.edu/wats/] in November, my outline for this workshop [http://lennes.math.umt.edu/workshop/] was a bit light about "Why might I want to use this".

We were very lucky on the agreed-upon day: I had used standard procedure in reserving my department's main computer lab but (on THE day) discovered our computer-systems person was independently changing that lab's setup drastically. Although the new setup was not complete, there were enough networked computers for the participants to use. I was able to track-down the department's portable projector and use it with my laptop. [Demo courses for participants were on my main server --- more about that in next memo.]

My initial plans were to have participants play student first before assuming an instructor role --- this is similar to the flow of activities described in part 5 of Mike Gage's "Getting Started with WeBWorK" [http://webwork.maa.org/pdfs/webwork_getting_started.pdf], but with "Tutorial" replaced by "Exploration". I planned to have participants play student by exploring Orientation and first half of Demo during a 20-minute segment --- that expanded to have two other sets also being explored and took about 45 minutes (including an extended discussion about Moodle, the math-ignorance of my school's "Moodle Partner", and my plans for some Moodle experiments). I think most followed my encouragement to try the main display modes (images, jsMath, MathJax) and to experiment with the Preview button. Eventually, I got everybody to login as a professor --- I had them examine some previously-seen problems but now from an instructor's perspective. I had them use the Classlist Editor to add a student and the Hmwk Sets Editor to add an assignment. I invoked "Edit this problem" in order to display the source and discuss the main sections of its programming (and finished by canceling without making any changes). My final in-WeBWorK activity involved use of the Library Browser to locate problems, create a set, and assign it --- some, but not all, had done that by the time I concluded the workshop with the final slides of my outline (pdf of problems, instructor view of student data, email, questionnaire).

I forgot to discuss "print hardcopy" and the current awkwardness that the PDF is displayed in current window rather than a separate window --- implication for students: unless they "go back", their session can be disconnected and time-out.