Beginnings: OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry and Schoology

Many instructors are content to teach the same material in the same way year-after-year. Lecture notes only need occasional updating, tests can be pulled out of a filing cabinet. A few questions are changed and the test is given yet again. Sure, occasionally a new edition of the textbook adds a section or changes a homework set. Ruffles the feathers a bit, and then the routine returns.

I tend to shift and jump to new technologies and approaches that cause me to have to rework and reinvent my whole work flow. Rebuild homework and tests. This summer I am pilot testing OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry.

Right off the bat there was a complication with using the online version. While the PDF is gorgeously laid out replete with homework set problem numbers, the online edition still lacks polish. Including numbering the problem sets. Since I use Schoology Basic as my learning management system, I needed a way to tell the students which problems to do in a text without numbers.

So I copied and pasted selected problems from the text into a Schoology assignment (no worries, the text is Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licensed). But the equations are set using MathML and the MathJax stack. I use MathJax in my own pages. And while MathJax has a context menu that would let me access the MathML, Schoology is not running MathJax on its pages to produce math. My current kludge is a screen region capture and inserting an image into the assignment in Schoology. Beginnings are always a tad awkward and clumsy.

Perhaps I will find a more elegant solution at some point and look back on this as being the usual substandard work processes of a beginning with new technologies. Perhaps I will not. Either way, once again I am working without the net of being able to fall back on existing materials used in prior terms.

If a new text is not sufficiently disruptive, the course will be using Desmos graphing calculator for the first time. Might as well change everything. Perhaps the year will come when I will be too old to cope with seismic shifts. Perhaps that year is this year. I do not fear being wrong, I embrace being wrong. What I count on is an ability to toss out what isn't working and make changes as I go.

OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry. Textbook content produced by OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. Mar 11, 2017


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