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Ask and Ye Shall Receive

I have been teaching my course online for over a year now. Until this semester, I did not require typed up solutions. I felt that I needed to give them guidance. Or at least an alternative to word processor hell, as I like to call it.

Markdown was my path out. I thought it was simple enough with embedded latex for them to use. I started writing up some guidelines and then started to write up my solutions that way. After an hour, I realized it was still too complicated.

But I had latched onto the idea of typed up work. So I booted up NeoOffice and realized one can insert equations easily enough. This made me feel better as OpenOffice is free and cross-platform. Thus any of my students could use it if they did not have MSOffice already.

So I simply made it a requirement and went on with my life. My students all complied without a word of complaint. Done.

It looks better and they actually are writing more of an explanation than a chain of equations. Better for me and better for them.

Ask and ye shall receive.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Thomas Park | February 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    While writing math expressions in NeoOffice is still slow and clunky compared to writing them by hand, do you think this can have unintended positive effects for learning? It can force students to take their time and reflect, be explicit about the order of nesting etc., and cause them to prefer to reason by text instead of just writing out a chain of equations as you say.

    Because I don’t think we’re too far off from iPads being ubiquitous, enabling students to handwrite their math expressions again. And these can be OCRed like so:

  2. mythiclogos | February 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Great point. I think that is one reason why I decided to go with type written work. It is a fine balance between burden and forcing them to think.

    Old tech meets high tech to drum out current tech. Yeah, typing equations has its pedagogical value.

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