To access the slides and audio (not synchronized), you can go to http://www.immagic.com, click on the Moodle Moot 2007 tab, then scroll down to the 'Moodle Moot Albuquerque Abstracts' box in the second column.
If the immagic site is too slow (it took about 20 minutes to buffer the audio when I tried it), you can also access the talk here.
During the talk, I do several live demos (e.g., applet-based science simulations). Unfortunately, you won't see them in the slides.
Sounds great and yes your website loads up at an incredibly S....L....O...W rate. Every page of the site is the same. Even with serious levels of patience, I could not find the pages you refer to and finally went for the direct access route to hear your lecture on Math and Science with Moodle. One of the first issues you bring up is the lack of ability (as with all virtual classroom programs) for Moodle to have a scientific editor.
Since science and math have a "language" all their own and the concepts covered are difficult enough without including the daunting task of becoming an expert technical typist added to the list, how does one overcome this obstacle in an online environment so that effective learning of the real subject can occur. Or simply, how can we communicate. (Can you tell I'm a bottom line kind of lady?) Do you create a "special" agreed upon new language that is user friendly? Do you throw your hands up shaking your head and say NEVER as upper admins hammer at your door for global education (and the income it brings to the university). Do you experience serious miscommunication problems as your students open their PowerPoint presentations and mysteriously see that the sigma symbol has been replaced with a smiley face or theta has been replaced by a little clock on their computer because they do not have the symbol font on their computer. There is a host of problems that occur when teaching a math or science course online. Sometimes, this occurs even in a Smart classroom where the administrator has unwittingly deleted "unneeded" fonts from the server (eeek!!!). Are all Math and Science instructors stuck in the dark ages when it comes to presenting our material?
I'm glad you are active in the Moodle project and hope you will point out the pitfalls of many virtual classroom programs that have come down the path. Personally, I made it a requirement that students have a scanner (cheapest at the time I was teaching) for uploading their communications. Today students can use pen tablets (mouse included) and/or a scanner. Each has it's pluses and minuses. I also designed a portion of the online class around the book so that questions could be easily posted in a chapter and section sort of way to cut down on inputting the initial question. Responses could be typed in an agreed upon abbreviation (i.e., S(a,b) would be the integral from a to b). I had both online and on site classes that had websites associated with them. On-site classes allowed me to address new abbreviations were in class. I cannot even fathom the daunting task of teaching an online chemistry class without insisting on scanners for all. I'm not sure that the incorporation of software like Mathmatica or AutoCad would be a "must have skill" prereq would be a viable option, but it would certainly be a viable skill in the after school market and thus may be warranted.SO HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE in math and science.
By the way, the slow site is the Moodle Moot site, where you can find all the talks (audio, slides). The direct link is to my site
A shared online whiteboard with drawing tools and text options. I struggled using the mouse to use the drawing tools, but it would be possible with a graphics tablet.
I don't think this is realy the answer but may be worth knowing about.
Something within moodle seems to be the answer so that what ever tools you use are available to the pupils when they need them but a way to create content in the same way ofline for those without Broadband may be necessary.
I only teach Maths and Science as 11 to 16 years old but I have held back on online work due to the problems of working with existing/familiar tools, Hence no algebra, geometry or chemical equations.
May be working in a vector drawing environment for ease of editing might be the way forward, creating the drag and drop elements that you need in a toolbar.
There are online shared graphics utilities that may be more useful than skribl that I am hoping to use when I teach vector graphics in ICT, but I can't remember the name but can look it up if you think it might be worth a look.
As you say, the real solution is something inside Moodle (an integrated WYSIWYG equation editor). Until then, the second best solution that I can think of is a Web-based WYSIWYG equation editor that can output LaTeX, such as sMArTH promises to be. The LaTeX output provides a bridge to Moodle. Students could use such an editor to write their math, then (at the last minute) create the LaTeX output and paste it into an HTML area in Moodle. The equation editor could run under the same Web server as Moodle, so that it would always be available to students.
I speculate that most math and science courses (not only yours) are collections of static resources, with few if any meaningful activities. For these courses, Moodle is being used as a "course management system," rather than a "learning environment." Without students being able to write in the specialized language of their discipline, no real learning takes place inside Moodle.
There are several other partially-WYSIWYG math editors mentioned in this discussion. For example, sitmo. To be suitable for use by learners, a mathematics editor should be fully WYSIWYG, platform-independent, and free. It should also integrate with Moodle activities (i.e., its output should be acceptable input to Moodle). For example, consider a math quiz with an essay question requiring the student to enter a math expression. How would you integrate the sciencepad equation editor in this scenario?
What about having the skeleton expression, but instead of the markup, it would show it in context of the equation? So the student would see all of the symbols, but they would plug in the actual numbers for scalars, constants and coefficients, and the letters for variables.
The user interface would allow the user to use the mouse or the keyboard to navigate through the expression. In the case of a summation, they could navigate to the index, plug in "i = 0", navigate to the top, plug in "n", then add the expression. This may involve inserting another expression, and they would navigate that one is wll.
Sorry if this doesn't make sense. I agree with you that we will never have online math activities until this problem is solved.
That works if you are inserting terminal symbols (like numbers, as in your example). But what if you needed to insert non-terminal elements. E.g., how would you imagine constructing the following?
I've been always interested in collaborative learning using collaborative programs like Vyew, etc. I'm wondering whether any of you guys have tried them out on students. If possible, I will hope to get some feedbacks from you guys here.
I have used both Vyew and Elluminate (vRoom version is a free 3-seater, Lite Office is a $50/month 10-seater, then big$ for more seats and Academic version). I prefer the vRoom personally, but my situation is such that I work more in a tutor format than in a large class setting.
As for using the whiteboard in either one for writing , a mouse will do and a tablet is fantastic, of course. I have a Wacom Intuous 3. Editing is not as easy as in a graphics program. In a graphics program you can just pick up an 'eraser' from the program's tool set or if you have a tablet just flip to the other side of the pen and erase just like on paper. It is precise and you can get in to even very tight spaces. In vRoom and in Vyew, every time you 'lift the pencil' you actually have a separate object. To modify an equation you have to select and group the parts you want to remove, right click, and select delete. If what you want to edit is not fairly boxy in shape and not closely nestled to other lines you need to keep, the process can be tricky. In instances where lots of editing by the students (or me in a demonstration) is a high likelihood, I application share a graphics program. I can turn control of the 'mouse' over to the student and let them drive. The application share capability is available in Elluminates vRoom and in their Academic Edition, but not in the Lite Office at this time. Vyew, is supposed to have application sharing, if I am remembering that corectly, but it has been a while since I used Vyew.
By the way, I use Paintshop Pro as the graphics program. The students do not have to have it on their system since it can be application shared from mine. You can pick up the older version 8 for under $20.
On the other hand, there's an Open Source conference server called dimdim that just announced an alpha release of Moodle integration on April 16. With dimdim, you can have as many conferees as you can support with your server AND Moodle integration. I'll be watching this forum for reports of users who have successfully installed the plugin.
And for those willing to wait and see, there's the possibility that Marratech may be offered by Google as a free service.
I use Elluminate within Moodle ALL the time and it is a brilliant way of having the asynchronous materials available alongside the live classroom as I constantly refer to the moodle course materials as I am teaching live.
I also use it like this so that my pupils HAVE to log in to the Moodle course to access the live link (although ofcourse they could ultimately save it in their 'favourites').
So this should NOT be a showstopper for you!
If you want any more help, please get in touch!
I use it via a link too. I work with 4 to 7 year olds, some of them pre-readers, as well as the older kids. If the little ones have no trouble figuring out how to click the link to enter the classroom, I don't think anyone will. LOL
Val, I am so hungry to find other teachers who know these tools. I would love to meet up with you. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to meet with you in my vRoom or yours to chat about techniques and such.
Integration via a link can hardly be called "integration." But I do understand that it's my only option with vRoom.
The main reason that a teacher needs Moodle to track student activities is because the activities are done assynchronously. You are not there with them to see them actually do it, so you need the system to do that tracking.
A live, online classroom like vRoom, however, is synchronous. You are personally there. If you do use the free 3-seater vRoom you sure don't have more students than you can easily take attendance for. If you need a classroom with many seats, try the Lite Office version which will hold 10 students for $50/month. For more than ten, the Academic version is best. If you are thinking of that Academic Vesion as something that only your class is using, yes, that would be expensive. But the Academic Version is not designed to be a one teacher tool. It is designed for school-wide use therefore the costs are spread out over the many pupils that it will accomodate.
At the very least, try the free 3-seater vRoom as an open office hours tool. If you already have listed an e-mail or IM link, it is not that different to add a vRoom link. The advantage with the vRoom is that when a confused student arrives you both have a well-tooled white board to work visually if needed. You have a voice communication system and/or text chat. and you can load up any powerpoint slides, videos, Flash simulations, files, etc. that you need to help make an explanation as easy as possible for your student.
Dimdim Integration with Moodle is ready and the Dimdim Moodle Integration pack is available at http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=176809&package_id=228683&release_id=501528
Dimdim is added as an activity within moodle and Dimdim Web meeting can directly be invoked from the Moodle itself. Please tell me if you face any problems/issues.
Thanks and Regards,