Maria Emelianenko
Department of Mathematics
Pennsylvania State University
Portfolio Home Teaching
Public use of
Digital media
Reflection on
I taught
Out-of-class information available to my students
I started using technology back in 2000 when teaching College Algebra classes and I've used it in many contexts ever since. Although various subjects sometimes require completely different sets of tools, there are common practices that are useful each time it comes to teaching a class. These are, for instance, the ways of organizing the course material and making it available for students outside of class. Here are some of the methods I've been using:
  • Developing course web sites: Web pages for all my current and former courses are available in the Courses Tab. Here's the link to the most recent web site (in fact, this is the course I'm teaching this semester):

    Math250 Spring 2004 (this link opens in new window)

    I found keeping a course web page extremely useful, since this is the most efficient way to organize all class information in one place known to all class participants. More details are provided below.

  • Posting homeworks and solutions online saves a lot of time and paper when it comes to distributing assignments to students. I usually post homework a week before its due date and post a PDF file with its solution afterwards. This way, students can review the solutions and their mistakes at home and I save valuable class time by discussing only the problems that worry them the most. Examples of homework assignments and solution sets can be found in the Digital materials section.

  • Posting class reminders and announcements helps class organization. In fact, not only it keeps students up-to-date with what's going on in the course, but it also helps organize instructor's time. I started using an online schedule for my course this semester, which greatly simplified pacing and planning course activities. In addition to that, for the week following the first midterm, I've made an Appointment schedule to meet with students and discuss the results of the midterm. Since the schedule was available on the web, students just had to look at it and pick a convenient free 15-min time slot during each of the days provided. As soon as a student would make me aware of his choice, I would update the file, so the sign up process was pretty much automated.

  • I always put some extra resource and applications links to supplement the material. These are among the best motivators I've found so far. With the load of required material math courses have, many interesting theories and applications are left aside, while some students would really benefit from the motivation they provide. Of course it would be too optimistic to assume that all students are curious enough to peruse this information in their free time, but now and then I get positive comments which make me believe these resources do serve their purpose. Have a look at the Links section of Math250 web page.

  • Posting gradelist online is very important in order to let the students know of their progress. In appliance with the University codes, I always remove the identities and order the list by the last four digits of SSN. Here are some examples from previous years (links open in the same browser window).

    Math 251 Fall 2002 gradelist
    Math 250 Spring 2004 gradelist

  • Coupling course website with Angel proved to be extremely useful in lots of aspects. Angel provides many wonderful features which facilitate the process of maintaining course information, collaborating with students as a group and individually, assessing them through online quizzes and getting feedback from them through online surveys and quick polls. I've been pleasantly surprised with the abundance of tools the Angel team implemented and made available to teachers at Penn State. I've used a couple of web-based learning systems before, such as Quiz Wizard and self-developed chat rooms, but only Angel made it possible for me to use the whole set of features I liked, such as discussion board, online quizzing with formulae support, performance assessment etc. These and other items will be discussed in more details in the Innovative technologies section.

    The examples provided here do not exhaust the list of out-of-class information. Other online materials can be found in the Digital materials section of this Portfolio.

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