Home » Pilot Online Course in Applied Calculus Will Give Every Student a Virtual Front Row Seat

Pilot Online Course in Applied Calculus Will Give Every Student a Virtual Front Row Seat

Pilot Online Course in Applied Calculus Will Give Every Student a Virtual Front Row Seat March 8, 2013

This summer, ACM will offer Calculus: A Modeling Approach, a pilot online course for students who want to apply mathematical tools to “real world” problems in economics, biology, environmental studies, and other fields in the social and natural sciences.

With two professors, a maximum enrollment of 20, and a participatory format, every student will have a virtual front row seat in the class. The course, set to run for eight weeks from June 17 through August 9, will also offer students a lot of flexibility to go with that personal attention.

ACM Online Course

The pilot gives students a chance to take a course during the summer, regardless of where they are living, and to enroll in a class that either might not be offered on their own campus or that doesn’t fit into their schedule during the regular academic year.

The class is open to students enrolled at ACM colleges, with at least one spot reserved for a qualified applicant from each of the member colleges. Recommended credit is equivalent to a regular semester-length course. The deadline for students to apply for the course is April 15.

“In addition to offering an excellent learning experience for students, the ACM Board of Directors had other consortium-wide benefits in mind when they initiated this pilot project,” said ACM President Christopher Welna. “We hope to use the course to explore ways that ACM faculty can develop online instruction tools that enhance and extend, rather than diminish, the distinctive and high-quality education offered by our liberal arts colleges.”

Kristina GarrettKristina Garrett

Mathematics professors Kristina Garrett (St. Olaf College) and Chad Topaz (Macalester College) signed on to develop and teach the course, and active student participation will be integral to the format. An online discussion forum will be active throughout the course, and students will have substantial face-to-face time with the professors. Each week, during regularly-scheduled appointments, Garrett and Topaz will meet with students by video conference in small, tutorial-style learning groups.

Chad TopazChad Topaz

With the course’s mix of synchronous and asynchronous elements, students will be able to do most of their work each week at their own pace and on their own schedule. For example, students will go online for the course’s pre-recorded lectures and accompanying materials (see a sample segment of a lecture on the course webpage) and to complete the quizzes, homework assignments, and tests that are part of each course module.

To make sure all of the technology and software works smoothly, IT experts Nancy Aarsvold (St. Olaf) and Barron Koralesky (Macalester) have provided key support to Garrett and Topaz, and will coordinate the technical helpdesks for students when the class is in session.

Students can apply online for Calculus: A Modeling Approach. To participate in the course, students will need approval from their faculty advisor, and they also should check with the registrar and/or business office at their college to find out about any campus registration or billing procedures required for this course.

This pilot course has received partial funding from the Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) project, an ACM program supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which is aimed at developing successful models of pedagogical and scholarly collaboration among faculty at ACM colleges.


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