I'm preparing a talk on "Moodle for math and science" for the Southern (US) Moodle Moot 07 in February. Like most teachers, I work in a vacuum except for occasional contact with a few other (likewise isolated) teachers, and with the moodle.org forums. So I rely on YOU to tell me how you're dealing these challenges.
Drawing graphs and diagrams in Moodle is a challenge for the teacher, but a much greater challenge for the student. Here are my thoughts.
As a teacher, I can create a drawing in a generic drawing program (like Open Office Draw), or I can use a program specialized for math, (like GeoGebra, for graphing and 2-D geometric constructions), or I can use a screen capture program to capture someone else's diagram or graph. I can also use a pen tablet and draw the image by hand. In each case, I must export an image from the program and upload it to my course so that I can link to it from an activity or resource. There are many steps, and most of them are made outside of Moodle.
Incidentally, I recently discovered how to embed dynamic GeoGebra worksheets as an alternative to static images. This is a very appealing option.
The student has access to many of the same diagramming and graphing tools, but unfortunately has nowhere to store the images, unless they are embedded in a document submitted as an "upload assignment." The student cannot, for example, include a diagram in an essay question on a quiz or lesson, or in a journal entry, online assignment, blog entry, etc. (Admittedly, a single image can be included in a forum post).
What's the solution for the student? Again, is it paper and pencil?
I have been using PAD (Physics Applets for Drawing) to fill the "interactivity gap" when questions were about making diagrams, vectors and so forth. http://www.wku.edu/pads/
Unfortunately, for you, most of my stuff is in Swedish. But here are some links:
These are some vector examples from the PAD homepage that I have put more feedback into:
I've created a Flash graphing tool that can create linear lines and inequalities. I could easily alter it to submit the equation of the linear line or inequality. If there is enough interest maybe I could add this as a question type for quizzes.
You can find the Flash file on my website: http://www2.woehler.us/cms/?q=node/131
If nothing else you could use it to quickly create inequality graphs for your screen shots. Let me know if you think this has some potential.
I tried your flash demo. It works nicely. But how exactly can a student "submit" a graph produced by your Flash file? Say the student is doing an online assignment which asks the student to graph the inequality 3x + 4y > 7. The student makes the graph. OK, now what?
Currently I don't have any client/server interaction, but when a graph is drawn I do have all of the information that could be sent to the server for grading such as the slope, y-int, etc... to the server. If people are interested in this I am open to ideas of the best way of implementing this: SCORM, Quiz questions, etc....
Insert the Flash file into a short answer question and feed the question ID to the flash file as parameter.
The other option that may be better would be to develop a new question type that would deal specifically with graphing.
With such a library, you can also just record the source data (as a string response for a interaction in SCORM, for example) and use it to recreate the graph at will. For example, with the function grapher you only need to record the parameters. No Flash, no Java, no need for server side graphic synthesis.
IMHO fact that Moodle does not provide a way to examine the SCORM tracking data such as interaction responses is a problem that can only be resolved by adding functionality to Moodle. If the data is recorded in the database, you should be able to get to it through some custom reports. Note that there is an IEEE standard (1484.11.3) that specifies an XML schema for this data, so at the very least it would be nice if Moodle could capture the data in an XML instance and then make that available. The XSD defined in the standard is freely available (but one has to pay for a copy to read the standard text to really understand how it works). Using a standard schema also means that it should be easy to create XSLs to generate pretty reports.
Until and unless the LMS supports meaningful recording and review of SCORM data, you're kind of stuck with hacks to try to provide a way in the SCO itself to do it. One slightly risky technique (because reusability of the content on another server becomes problematic) is to use HTTP or XMLHTTPRequest to invoke your own server site service to record the data. A perverse idea, if your Moodle server also happen to support a secure version of formmail, is that you can in theory post the the data from inside a frame in the SCO to a server-based formmail handler that will email it to the instructor. I'm sure other Moodle users have already figured out ways to do more elegant workarounds for stuff other than SCORM content.
Thank you. That is exactly the kind of clarification I was hoping for.
Thank you. That is exactly the kind of clarification I was hoping for.
The main problem, as I see it, is the lack of file attachments in the activities that are mostly used by science and math teachers: essay questions in quizzes and lessons, online assignments and/or journal entries. If these activities had file attachments, here's an example of how they might be used:
The HSU file manager block (also known as "My Files") offers a solution. I have experimented with this in Moodle 1.6.3 and it works just fine.
Consider the example of the geometry construction essay question:
- The student creates the ggb file and uploads it to his personal file area
- The student checks the box "share with teacher"
- The student copies the link location (right mouse button) and pastes it into the essay question, possibly as a hyperlink:
- When the teacher goes to grade essay question, he clicks on the link and downloads the file (other file types may be viewed directly in the browser0.
Incidentally, I filed MR-8229 "Allow students to attach files to essay questions, online assignments, and journal entries". All the social activites allow attachments, why shouldn't the traditional activities allow them?
Great forum topic. The graphing tool I include for my students in all my Internet and hybrid math courses, is a program called MathStuCalc. It is a very complete and easy to use on-screen graphing calculator that helps the students in the plotting and in the analysis of graphs of functions; but what is very important: It does NOT do the algebra for them. I do not accept any longer the use of the standard TI’s hand held graphing calculators in any of my classes, and require my students to use the on-screen calculator which for them is a huge savings since they get MathStuCalc for free.
The great advantage for me as on-line instructor is that the student can easily obtain either a JPG or a bitmap of any of the activities they performed (just by right hand clicking on the calculator’s key-pad and selecting “Save Display as…”). The image comes also with the expression the student typed, so for me it is very easy to find any syntax error and guide them to correct it. The student attaches the image to an e-mail or pastes it on a document that is sent to me or loads it in an assignment. Here I am appending some images of different activities:
a) creating a table of x/y values , plotting them and checking with the use of the graphing tool the correctness of their work by plotting the actual function and seeing that it goes through the points.
b) Studying modulation of the cosine function.
c) Finding the best fitting exponential expression to a set of data points.
d) Visualization of area between curves for my calculus classes.
The program was written by Greg Mushial (email@example.com)(a PhD in Math and Delphi programmer). He allows free student usage of the program for a full year. So what I do at the beginning of each semester is to get from his website the most recent version of the program, I place it in my website, and give a link to my students inside the course. The students can download it to their computers or run it directly from my site. The “year” clock starts at the time I download it, so the students can use it with no problem for the full semester.
Here is a link to the info page (which has the 1-year free trial download link). I have no idea if it will run in a Linux machine (and I am curious to find if it does –so please let me know), but I know it runs great in all my Windows laptops and desktop computers at home and at the School.
Thanks for the great resource and for those screen shots. I'll definitely look into MathStuCalc.
The pop-up window that asks the student if s/he wants to run or download is most likely a "Security Warning" window from "Windows." Since an "exe" file is being invoked over the Internet, Windows is alerting the user about it, and making sure that the user understands the risks of running software that is not in the user's computer. I don't think that can be changed from anywhere else but (may be) from the users' computer at the security level.
If the student downloads the program in his/her own computer, then s/he can access it just by double clicking in the icon, and no questions will be asked. Most of my students prefer to download it, I am not sure why; may be they want to be able to use it even if they are not with an Internet connection...
Sorry I could not help with what you wanted .
I have some examples and discussion at
on how to use MathML, Jipsen's TeX like notation, and .png in
transparent layers. Also Jipsen's graphs can be used in the
same web page.
Your MS Internet Explorer plugin configuration can be checked at