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
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
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
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
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
Prof. Banchoff's response