The Fourteenth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

Using WebCT Instruction in Courses You Never Thought You Could

Sarah J. Greenwald
Department of Mathematics
326 Walker Hall
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

How can we successfully use WebCT instruction in settings in which one might expect it to be ineffective in meeting course goals? We will look at examples of effective WebCT instruction in a variety of such courses, for example modern algebra, linear algebra, a liberal arts mathematics class, and a senior level course on women and minorities in mathematics with significant mathematical content.

WebCT is a collection of WEB-based Course development Tools. It allows instructors to create secure course content pages, discussion groups, and online quizzes. Since WebCT quizzes give instantaneous feedback to the student and can be set to repeat problems until students have mastered them, it is natural to use in settings such as precalculus or calculus in order to drill basic skills.

WebCT instruction can also be effectively used in a variety of other courses with very different course needs. For example, in a first proof-writing course, such as modern algebra, creative WebCT quiz questions can be used to teach proof-writing skills by complementing standard problems sets and lectures (see for example http://www.mathsci.appstate.edu/~sjg/class/3110/mathfestalg2000/quiz3.html). Also, because of its limited calculation and formatting capabilities and less than ideal interface, it might seem ineffective to use WebCT in a linear algebra course. Yet, with some creative maneuvering, this can be highly effective.

We will look at examples of these kinds of instruction along with the advantages, limitations and effects on teaching and learning in the classroom. We will also discuss student reactions, problems that were encountered, and suggestions for improvement and successful implementation.