0) Have you submitted responses for weeks 5 through 13?


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

Essentially, I have gained more appreciation for the ability of an individual student to investigate interesting, rewarding subjects in mathematics on her own time, without necessarily needing remarkable technical expertise. That is to say, math can fun, interesting, important, and challenging without being inaccessibly abstruse. Dimensionality is an excellent way of showing this. The basic concept of dimensions is fairly accessible, and I found it easy enough to roll up my sleeves and start doing my own investigations.

This has precipitated an important change in the way I perceive myself in relation to mathematics. I find it much more plausible that I can actually make a contribution to mathematics in my studies of it, whereas to this point I have primarily been a sponge of mathematical knowledge discovered by others. I'm looking forward to doing more math, and I made a point of signing up for Prof. Banchoff's section of math 9 next year.

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?

I found that for me the most beneficial parts of math 8 have been those parts most closely related to the mathematics. I particularly enjoyed Prof. Banchoff's lectures on the mathematical topics, the proofs he presented, and the like. I tended not to be as warm and fuzzy about the continuous intrusion of humanities material into the course. I don't mean to suggest that the literary and philosophical turns the discussion often took weren't interesting and worthy of study, but I didn't expect to spend as much time on them. I was under the impression that our approach would be more mathematically rigorous, and am somewhat disappointed it wasn't. I think the course could stand some more direct, forthright, naked math, with proofs and all.

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

I found the paperless course an excellent experience on the whole. It made my experience in math 8 singularly different from any other academic experience I've had. The most striking difference was that I was able to read the work of my fellow students. I enjoyed seeing what other people had thought of the same material, and reading the responses to the chapters often proved a wonderful supplement to the reading.

Customarily the work of other students is forbidden the other students in the name of academic integrity. The assumption is that if a student examines another student's work, (s)he is likely to steal some ideas. In this course, however, we were encouraged to address each other's work. This gave the course a significantly less competitive environment, and I felt as though "we were all in it together" in an abstract way. This was a very good thing. It also gave me a lot of respect for the intellectual capabilities of the other students. Usually you can easily get through a course without learning a thing about anyone in it.

I imagine this approach would work better in some disciplines than others. If the assignments in question are of an objective nature (ie, distinctly right and wrong answers, with work shown), having students' homework publicly available as soon as it is handed in would be counterproductive. However, in my philosophy class (PL21, Science Perception and Reality, Prof. Nick Hugget) we are using a similarly paperless format (Usenet) for a large portion of our class discussions, and the medium is proving very fruitful in my opinion. Many a worthwhile discussion has taken place that simply would not have in a traditional environment.

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

I was familiar with web authoring technologies, ftp, and the like before taking the course. They were not much of a shock. It would be nice if the webserver for math 8 were capable of serving java applets, however; that proved a rather difficult obstacle to overcome.

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 yu read the submissions of other students (and/or the professor's response)?

I would have liked it if the weekly assignments had been somewhat more focussed (eg, on a narrower range of subjects) and less monotonous. It frankly got to be something of a drag to always have a remarkably similar piece of homework awaiting me every single week this semester. That said, I must admit that I enjoyed the freedom given me in responding to the chapter. I thought that the publicity of our work was actually wonderful, and I don't think it was necessarily injurious to the shrinking violets of our class; it was made fairly clear all along that you could hand in a response on paper if you didn't want to put it on the web. I also thought it was nice to be able to hand in homework from home; as the campus becomes increasingly networked, I imagine that this obvious convenience for instructors, TAs and students will become more widespread.

I tried to read at least a handful of the responses each week, although I wasn't particularly strict with myself about it. Whenever there was a link to Prof. Banchoff's response, I would read it.

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

I was primarily responsible for compiling, writing up, and proving the elements of our geometry. This occupied the vast, vast majority of time I spent on this project. I also wrote the main page of our group (which was trivial), and helped out a bit in putting certain elements of the project in web-worthy form.

7) In The Olde Dayes, the final prject was mostly an individual effort, on the order of a ten-page paper. How owuld you characterise the experience of working on a team, and how did that affect your effort in the final project?

I tend to work harder on group projects, because I know that not just my grade is at stake, and I don't wish to bring the scorn of my peers upon me. I would say this was definitely the case in this project. I worked much harder on the geometry than I probably would have if it had just been a piece of paper that no one but me and a TA would ever, ever read. The fact that our final projects were on the www, and that the world was in some senses watching, made me want to do a better job than I probably ordinarily would have.

Prof. Banchoff's response