I've just joined Moodle very recently, ie today, and wanted to let this forum know of my plans to link Moodle with a computer algbra system. There are at least two reasons for wanting to do this
(1) To provide a CAS enabled chat space so that students and teachers can discuss mathematics in an active way with expressions being evaluated with a CAS system in the background, and plots being generated dynamically.
(2) To extend assessments to include CAS.
The basic idea is that a student provides their answer, this is subtracted from a teacher's answer and the CAS simplifies as far as possible. A zero solution indicates the two are equivalent. There is a lot more to this, but I'm leaving the details for later. However, this is something the AiM community have been doing for 4 or 5 years, (see http://maths.york.ac.uk/moodle/aiminfo/ ) Of course, a lot more can be done including
- random questions
- worked solutions
- questions with non-unique answers which require properties from an answer. This is something I'm very interested in, to try and generate some mathematical detabe http://web.mat.bham.ac.uk/C.J.Sangwin/Publications/Emac03.pdf
There are lots of technical details, which I'd be very happy to talk about in due course. I don't want this to be a long initial posting. This is simply to open up discussion about using computer algebra through a VLE, to altert others to what I am doing, and to encourage people to join in. Some technical thinking so far:
- There are a number of CAS systems around. I want to make sure that Moodle can operate independent of which CAS is used, as far as is possible. Actually, for learning and teaching only a small subset of CAS commands are really useful. The syntax for these is very similar amongst CAS systems. The open source CAS maxima will certainly be one I'm including early on.
- I notice that Moodle already has an algebra filter that works via TeX. Great, I've done exactly the same in my prototype code! However, I filter through TtH to produce raw HTML, rather than using Perl. This isn't perfect, but does avoid pictures.
I'm not in a position to release any code yet, although I've been working on a project to provide this link, and intend to release prototype code soon.
The experience of the AiM community has been very good indeed, and I hope we can recreate that functionality within Moodle. Please do comment. Does anyone else have similar plans? Is this useful?