WeBWorK Consultants

report from April 1, 2011 Workshop, Columbia MO

report from April 1, 2011 Workshop, Columbia MO

by Jason Aubrey -
Number of replies: 1
I think Dick's idea of writing up reports here for the consultants workshops we hold is a great idea. So, here goes:

Mike May, Anneke Bart, and I held an outreach workshop as part of the joint spring meeting of the Missouri MAA and MOMATYC (MO Association of Two Year Colleges). The meeting was held this year at Columbia College in Columbia, MO.

For the first 75 minutes of our two hour workshop we had about 8-10 participants. But that number dwindled due (we think) to the fact that there were many other talks happening during our two hour block.

This may be something to consider when scheduling outreach workshops for MAA section meetings (or other meetings). It's hard to get people's undivided attention for that long during an active meeting.

That said, those that did attend participated very actively. So it was a good (if smallish) group which also happened to include David Bressoud, who was at the meeting giving the keynote address for MOMATYC.

Our presentation was organized as follows:

WeBWorK: What, Why? (Jason, 20-30min)
*Key features, testimonials
*Who uses WeBWorK?
*AMS Homework Software Survey

Hands on "Play" time (guided WeBWorK exploration led by Mike and Anneke, 45 min)

How to get your own WeBWorK course, further resources (Anneke, 15min)

Workshop survey (Jason, 15min)

For the hands-on part, Mike set up his MAA hosted course with student and professor userids for each participant, and he and Anneke led participants through the student interface, and instructor activities such as creating a hw set, etc.

I'm sure Mike and Anneke will chime in with more on that and their impressions of how it went. Overall, I think it was a very much a success - and based on our conversations, it looks like at least four of the participants already have or will soon request courses.

In reply to Jason Aubrey

Re: report from April 1, 2011 Workshop, Columbia MO

by Mike May -
Let me add a bit about "play time"

I am thinking of the workshop as aimed at people who are thinking of being the first person at their school to use WebWork. Thus I want things to be set in terms of the MAA hosted model, with some comments along the lines of "talk to us in a year, after you have run a course, if you want to build your own server."

I think the first point should be automated homework instead of a comparison of systems. (For teachers, that is the conceptually important issue. brand loyalty is much later.) I have a dummy class set up at MAA
where I have a bunch of logins. In particular, for X going from 1 to 24, I have adminX, studnetX, and taX. passwords are the same as logins.

Workshop participants start by logging in as a student and working at a simple assignment on product rule. We discuss as we go so they can see the student experience. Natural questions on grading and equivalent answers come up. Form the front projector, I have two browsers, logged in as a student for one and as an instructor on the other. I demo the process of sending an e-mail to the instructor and then receiving it and responding.

A second play assignment is to pick some topic and create a simple assignment for the students.

A third topic of play is roster management. I point out the file used to create the roll, but I comment that for the first class you do, it may be simpler to type.

Part of the theme of my playtime is that while I can see a lot of things I could do with WebWork, my first goal is to do routine drill work with my students and to get them to do those problems. That first goal is pretty easy to accomplish and worth the effort. Other goals can be faced on another day.

For implementation plan my recommendation is the following path:
1) Have a single early adopter use WebWork with MAA hosting for a standard course. (College algebra through calculus.) DO not plan to write any new problems.
2) When you have the experience of getting students to do routine problems without having to grade them yourself, smile and comment to colleagues.
3) When you have a few more faculty interested than can be handled by MAA, look for a server site in your region and see if they will host a few courses for you. They will probably say yes.
4) When there is some momentum talk to administration about the advisability of using a rival institution to host services for your students.
See if they will host a server for you.