Math 8 End-of-Semester Reflections

0) Have you submitted responses for weeks 5 through 13

I have handed in responses for weeks 5,9,10,11,12 through the html editor. For chapter 6,7 I experienced problems with the editor so they went in through e-mail.

1) How has your view of yourself in relationship to mathematics changed over the course of the semester?

I have discovered a whole new manor of looking at mathematics and also aspects of life. There is another dimension to go to where the problem can be solved.

2) For you, what are the most positive and the most negative aspects of the course? Would you suggest any major changes in structure or emphasis?

The most positive aspect of the course was that it provided a valuble lesson in analogy. Issues can be unravelled if we compare them to things we are certain of. This of course is primarily evident in Flatland. The most negative aspect of the course for me was that the mathematics got over my head when I had to devote some of my energy to other things. At this point I felt that it was quite hard to get up to speed. It took me re-reading a chapter many times before I finally began to fully understand the lectures again.

3) Comment at length on the concept of the paperless course. What are the advantages or disadvantages of this approach? In what ways could such an approach work in other courses?

The concept of a paperless course was a very positive aspect of my mathematical experience. At first I was daunted by the prospect of relying fully on my little gray box to transmit my work but, by now I think it is highly efficient. The most amazing aspect of the paperless course was that it added a new "dimension" (forgive the expression). One was able to read other peoples' work and think about how they interpreted things. One could therefore find out quite alot about someone through reading their responses, almost get to know them. Notice I use almost here because that is where I think there is a flaw. When I read someones work I meet then two dimensionally, on the screen, if we discuss I meet them three dimensionally. Herein lies the potential problem. This has been on my mind as I think about writing an e-mail or a letter. While an e-mail is direct, free, immediate, and endless, it is far less personal than a handwriten letter. So if the paperless course were repeated, as I think it should be, it must be repeated with sections. It is not enough to discuss on the computer, that physical interaction is key to the overall progress of the class.

4) Comment on your experiences with the technology used in the course. What can be done to make things easier in the future?

Perhaps if in the first or second week, a section (see above para) was used in a computer lab to explain the process of submitting a document to the web.

5) Describe your experience with the weekly assignments and the "response from Prof. B." feature. Comment on the public nature of these interchanges, and the possibility of linkings among student work and communication with the other class members. To what extent did you read the submissions of other students (and/or the professor's responses)?

I found it quite easy to slip behind on the weekly assignments. The prof. B responses were really useful and insightful. I felt like if my work was responded to then it should be at least thought provoking. It was also great to have a sort of personal relationship with the prof. outside of class, without the intimidation of a formal conversation.

6) Describe in some detail your activities as part of your final project team.

The final project, for me, was a really great experience. I was interested to read what Lisa, Anya and Brooke had written and give then small pieces of advice during our meetings. I got quite excited when writing my story,(I never thought I would ever be at all excited holding a book entitled "Partial Differential Equations"). So that was neat.

7) In the old days, the final project was mostly an individual effort, on the order of a ten-page paper. How would you characterize the experience of working on a team, and how did that affect your effort in the final project?

Working on a team was helpful, in that I gained an overall knowledge of literature beyond 3D. However, my project was a seperate entitiy unto itself which was quite similar to a ten page paper so my effort was comparable but, the knowledge gained was greater.

P.S Thanks for a very enlightening course, I'll look out for Ma08 on the net in 1998, Hugh.

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