This is an online supplement designed for a calculus course taught at the University of British Columbia. The site contains course notes, interactive labs, and in-class demonstrations. The topics covered include differential and integral calculus, differential equations, and series.
Type of Material:
Interactive Java applets with text.
This material can be used as a supplement to a Calculus course, as a source of in-class demonstrations. or as a source of labs.
Java-enabled Web browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To supplement a traditional course in Calculus with interactive online materials.
Target Student Population:
Undergraduate students taking a course in Calculus.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
College Algebra and concurrently studying Calculus.
Although this site is designed around a specific course taught at UBC, this learning material is well suited as a supplement for any first year Calculus course. Even an introductory Ordinary Differential Equations course might find it useful. The site content is contained under three headings: Course Notes, Labs, and In-Class Demonstrations. The topics and labs under the first two of these headings are accompanied by extensive explanatory text with graphs and an occasional imbedded interactive applet. There are nearly three dozen topics under Course Notes. Some of these examine theoretical concepts like The Definite Integral, while others like The Area Under a Curve present and explore specific examples. Often, these topics include a series of questions for guided instruction. There are six labs, each with accompanying question sets. Some are simply straight-forward math problems to be solved, while others use applets to allow student experimentation with parameters and graphs. These labs were originally designed so that students could save and submit their solutions. That functionality is no longer available. Lab topics include the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Probability, and Modeling with Differential Equations. The third content heading on this site, In-Class Demonstrations, contains only applets with no explanations except for the applet title.
The selection of topics in both course notes and labs section of the site supplements mostly the integral calculus part of a standard calculus course plus some topics on number series. The differential calculus part is not touched at all. It would be nice if the site included some material on that area of Calculus.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Students with the patience to read through the explanations in the Course Notes and Labs will be rewarded with well-designed examples and problem sets. The interactive applets will greatly enhance student interest and understanding of concepts. Advanced and motivated students will find this site useful for self study. However, the site will be most effective if students are under the guidance of an instructor.
Some of the applets could be demonstrated by an instructor in class to enhance a regular calculus topic presentation.
Solutions to the problem sets contained in the Notes and Labs are not provided. Some topics contain few if any applets.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Site navigation is straight-forward. The applets are simple and easy to use.
Some of the In-Class Demonstrations are fairly useless without accompanying instructions. For example, Center of Mass.
The web design of the site could benefit from navigation buttons taking a user to different levels of the site.
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