A course which personalizes authentic math learning for each individual learner

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Wow, I'm really impressed with the ideas for this course. I had been assuming this would be a conglomeration of basic math topics which learners would need to step through linearly. But no, each learner gets a chance to figure out what they need to work on, and then works with someone to design a learning plan. That's just how it should work! I do hope we can solve the scalability issues with how to do this with many 100's of learners at a time. It is so just what people need!

And not only is the course personalized, the learner gets to work on an authentic math-related problem. Yay!

I agree with Wayne that the course will need a strong collection of tutorials to support the use of technology, which will be crucial to a learner's success. I would think that spreadsheet tutorials will be needed for openoffice.org Calc (and maybe including a version for LibreOffice as well...which comes standard on more recent versions of Ubuntu), and also for MS Excel..and any others which are commonly available (as a learner should be encouraged to use whichever they have readily available).

Are there useful, openly licensed tutorials for WolframAlpha? It seems to me that it would be pretty intuitive for someone who already knows math, in particular math symbols, but could be quite daunting for a beginner....but oh so useful once they get the hang of it. Do you use the Google calculator much in your math instruction?

I'm happy to help out. Let me know. I plan to check back often.


ASnieckus (talk)12:51, 16 March 2012
Edited by author.
Last edit: 02:49, 18 March 2012

Thanks, Alison! Yes, the tutorials will be important. We need to update our current Excel tutorials anyhow. And, I've been wanting to do a tutorial for OpenOffice. I'm not very familiar with LibreOffice- will check it out. As for WolframAlpha- will check. I agree it is a bit daunting at first.

I've not used the Google calculator much in our courses.

Help will be most appreciated!!  --BettyHD 14:49, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

BettyHD (talk)14:45, 16 March 2012

Just to clarify, LibreOffice is related to OpenOffice (wp says it's a fork of OpenOffice.org). As far as I can tell Calc works the same in both; I use Calc almost exclusively. The difference will come out in how you access various commands, as LibreOffice is standard in the newer version of Ubuntu (which has a different GUI). I think we can use the WE community to help us determine whether one tutorial will work for learners using Calc in varying operating systems.

I did a search on "Wolframalpha tutorial". A few items came up, including the intro by Stephen Wolfram, but nothing that's specific just to math. I think it'd be pretty simple to explain how to use it and the information available in the results screen.

In the version of this course at ESC, do you find that learners need help with how to type an equation into the computer (or calculator, for that matter)? Do you explain this in your Excel tutorial?

Just some further thoughts.


ASnieckus (talk)11:45, 17 March 2012

From a course design perspective, it would be relatively easy to develop a generic spreadsheet resource with "activity tracks" for different spreadsheet software applications (Excel, the LibreOffice and OpenOffice suites.)

Similarly, I think it would be worth the effort to have a generic suite of tutorials with assessment and activity tracks for different subjects, eg Math, Statistics, Accounting etc. In this way we will be able to reuse the materials for multiple contexts.

There are a number of resources we could use as a starting point -- for example, Module 4 of COL's Computer Navigators Certificate Course. These materials are available under a CC-BY-SA license and would be relatively easy to convert into wiki format.

Mackiwg (talk)12:22, 17 March 2012

Great suggestions on developing the spreadsheet tutorials. These will be helpful for many learners. Can you talk more about teh activity tracks?

--BettyHD 14:52, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

BettyHD (talk)02:52, 18 March 2012

Hi Betty,

The activity tracks sound more elaborate than what I'm suggesting ;-).

Imagine a wiki learning page, for example, teaching how to enter a function in a spreadsheet. The page may include a demo or screen cast. At this point we can provide three links to separate subpage - one for each of the different software packages.

Similarly, a task oriented activity embedded on the wiki page might include optional streams for each of the software packages, or subject specific examples.

Structuring the course in this way (i.e. separate wiki sub-pages for the different software packages) will make it easier to reuse the materials for different contexts.

So nothing too elaborate -- just thinking carefully about how best to structure the wiki pages to maximise reuse and to minimise upstream maintenance.

Mackiwg (talk)09:33, 18 March 2012

Hi Wayne,

Great idea--do one tutorial, with branches or on-the-page selections (e.g., click the appropriate down-arrow) for different situations (different software as well as different learning tasks). It seems quite doable, and as you say would likely be easier to maintain.

I took a quick look at the current CNCC spreadsheet materials. Nicely done. Betty indicated that ESC has an Excel tutorial which needs updating. Shouldn't be too hard to take the best parts of each and put them together into one tutorial, which can be added to as the needs arise. I will likely have a need for a spreadsheet tutorial for an intro stats class to start in Sept, so we can try out the branching for differing learning tasks :)

I'm very willing to help with this.


ASnieckus (talk)12:26, 18 March 2012


The latest version of the CCNC materials are not too bad and wouldn't be too hard to wikify. If we configure these for multiple reuse scenarios, I think it can support a wide range of learning contexts.

Thinking out loud -- I would prefer a subpage solution rather than using a "down arrow" for a target on the same page. This would make it easier to transclude. For example -- there could be a Spreadsheets for Statistics course (basically a transcluded duplicate of the generic course pages, and then incorporates transcluded pages for the stats activities if you know what I mean.) Much easier to maintain.

Thanks for your offer to help here -- would be a great project for the WE and OERu family.

Mackiwg (talk)13:05, 18 March 2012

Yes, I see what you mean. Definitely the way to go for courses which support different contexts.

I'm wondering if we need a fully separate course...learning pathway....for people using different spreadsheet software, at least for the very basic stuff. As we get into it, we'll have to see if there are situations which would make sense for the learner to choose activity directions or screenshots specific to the software they are using, and then that bit gets transcluded into the page. This method would only make sense if it's more common than different.

I haven't used Excel in quite some time, so I'm not sure how different the learning content will need to be.


ASnieckus (talk)08:01, 19 March 2012

Yes- this sounds like a great way to organize the spreadsheet tutorials and activities.

BettyHD (talk)00:15, 22 March 2012