Electronic Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

Orlando, Florida, October 31-November 3, 2002

Paper P014

Using a Companion Web Site to Enhance Learning in a Numerical Methods Course

Nora Strasser

Friends University
2100 University
Wichita, KS 67213
Phone: (316) 295-5879
Fax: (316) 295-5404

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To facilitate student understanding in Numerical Methods, a companion web site was created using Blackboard. This web site was used in a traditional course to enhance student understanding. The web site emphasized visualization and hands-on demonstrations of techniques.

First, a Mathematica notebook was written for each of the major topics in the course. These notebooks consisted of a description of the Numerical Method being studied, a program written in Mathematica to perform the method, a demonstration of the program, and an assignment for the students to do. Students were able to download the notebook from the course web site, but would have to run the program on a computer that had Mathematica installed on it.

To enhance visualization, Java Applets were linked to the web site as well. The search engine, Google, was used to find applets that were appropriate for the given Numerical Method. Once an appropriate applet was found, a link was created to the course's web site. It is important to check these links and update them on a regular basis. Finally, if an appropriate Java Applet was not available, the search was extended to other types of web sites that could enhance student learning.

Numerical Methods is a course that benefited from this design. Since Numerical Methods is highly dependent on computers, the use of the web site enhanced the importance of this link. Students were able to explore each method with a minimum of programming skills. This allowed students to focus more on the mathematics and less on computer programming skills.

Keyword(s): Internet, numerical methods, Java, Mathematica, Blackboard