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Instructing Courses With Mathematical Content Via The Web And Computers

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.598.1 - 6.598.4

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Glen Smerage

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1520

Instructing Courses With Mathematical Content Via the Web and Computers Glen Smerage University of Florida


Engineering courses involve mathematics in presentations of theory and skills, demonstrations, exercises, and work by which student learning is evaluated. The Web, a personal computer, and mathematical software are excellent means for incorporating mathematics into courses. During the past four years, the author has developed and applied approaches to employing those means in courses with significant mathematical content. A Web based system for course delivery has emerged with the following major components: electronic knowledgebase, computerized problems, exercises, and solutions, a Web site, and a learning studio. The system has been employed successfully in five semester presentations of a course on biological systems analysis at the University of Florida and at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. It is now being applied to a new course on quantification of biological processes. The system, illustrations from the biological systems analysis course, and experiences of the author are presented in this paper.


Knowledgebases (textbooks) need not be electronic, and some people find curling up in a chair or on a couch with a computer unappealing. Nevertheless, the author believes electronic media are attractive and effective for knowledgebases. Electronic knowledgebases may be used for learning, lecturing, and reference with several advantages over printed knowledgebases.

One advantage is the parallel, rather than serial, architecture available in electronic documents via hyperlinks. Elective movement about a well linked knowledgebase is efficient and effective for the user, and parallel writing is richer in diversity and potentially communicates more effectively and efficiently than the printed page. Another advantage is the opportunity for active and better communication and demonstration of concepts and skills via animation, simulation, live demonstration, and video. Authors may more easily alter and expand existing components of a knowledgebase and add new components without incurring problems in the format of the whole document. Passive verbal and mathematical texts and graphics are readily created via word processing, equation editor, and graphical softwares. Active presentations require other softwares and considerations.

Mathematically, an electronic knowledgebase may contain active as well as passive components. The passive mathematical text common in engineering knowledgebases is readily composed via the equation editor in the word processor used to compose passive verbal text. Active mathematical components may be accomplished via commercial mathematical software; of several products available, the author chose Mathcad3 as most suitable to his writing, mathematical, and instructional styles. Active components provide students interactive, exploratory learning through changing parameters and conditions of analyses and performing simulations. Interaction and exploration promote interest and insight, enliven learning, and add breadth, diversity, and strength to learning experiences in comparison to passive, printed knowledgebases. Graphical output available in mathematical software further strengthens the quality of active mathematical components and the learning process.

"Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ” 2001, American Society for Engineering Education"

Smerage, G. (2001, June), Instructing Courses With Mathematical Content Via The Web And Computers Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015