Guide for New Teachers

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The following is a guide for teachers new to iMath. This guide covers the basics required to setup and productively use iMath as part of a course.

Contents

Getting an Account

The first step is to get a teacher account from one of the iMath administrators at NKU. Email Aimee Krug (kruga1@nku.edu) with a request for an account.

Once the account has been created login [[1]]

Exploring NorseMathology

If you have a username and password, go to the link above and login.

You can explore my courses. Choose to enroll in one of the courses below, enter the CoureID and the enrollment key and you should be able to read materials and take homework (go ahead, it won't bother me.)

  • Math 129 CourseID = 3, Enrollment Key = 271828 (digits of e)
  • Math 119 CourseID = 9, Enrollment Key = 119119
  • Math 109 CourseID = 8, Enrollment Key = 109109
  • Math 115 CourseID = 2, Enrollment Key = 314159 (digits of pi)


Then go ahead an create a course, try to add some (inline) text and an assessment. Don't worry too much about the course settings - they can be changed later, or we can ditch the whole class. Instructions follow.

Creating Your First Class

  • After logging in follow the link that says Go to Admin page
  • Under the Courses heading click the button that says Add New Course

Configuration

The new course setup page has a variety of options, those listed below are the most common ones used. Defaults are typically acceptable for other options, check the extended documentation for more information about the other options.

  • Course Name - This is the name of the course as it will appear for both the instructor and students
  • Enrollment Key - A numeric key used when registering for the course
    • The enrollment key is a way control who can register for a course. It is optional, but I find it useful to have.
  • Allow Students to self-unenroll - Check if students should be able to un-enroll from the course without getting instructor permission.
  • Student Quick Pick Top Bar Items - Check any links you want to students to have quick access to
  • Instructor Quick Pick Top Bar Items - Check any links the instructor should have quick access to

Finishing

After clicking submit iMath returns to previous admin screen. The newly created course should be listed under courses.

Note the following information is required for students to be able register for the course:

  • Under the Courses heading there will be a course id list for the newly created class
  • Both the course id and enrollment key will be needed by students to enroll in the course

Adding items to the course

After logging in all of your course will be listed under the Courses Your're Teaching heading. Click on the course you want to work on.

If this is a newly created course you will have menu bar on the left side of the screen, and the right side will be empty.

Adding a Block

A block is a container for grouping other items such as class notes, assessments, etc. Blocks provide a way to organize items into sections or categories, which can make course management easier.

To add a block select Add Block from the Add an Item.. drop-down menu.


You will be brought to a screen allowing you to configure and create the block. Aside from the title the only important thing to configure is availability. Under the Show heading you can make the block hidden so it cannot be seen by students, always available, or only available to student during certain dates. (I find always available the useful choice in most circumstances.)

Choose how you want the block to appear to students. I usually choose a folder, but that is personal choice.

There is also a checkbox labeled Make items publicly accessible. By checking this box items in the block will accessible without logging into iMath. This might be useful if you have a set of class notes created within IMath and wish to allow public access to these notes. Note: even if this box is checked any assessments within the block will not be viewable without logging in.

Adding items to a block

Once you have created a block it will be shown with it's title. Inside the block there will be an 'Add an Item.. dropdown which you can use to add item to the block.

Adding inline text

Inline text can be used to add notes or announcements for students. In addition you can attach files to the inline text such as pdfs, images, or word documents.

To add inline text select Add Inline Text from one of the Add an Item.. drop-down menus. If you want to add the item to a block make sure you add use the block's dropdown menu.

iMath's text editor allows you to format text, and create lists and tables. You can also add latex formulas and plots of graphs.

iMath also allows you to select that dates that the inline text will be available to students.

Upload a File

To upload a file click browse by the new file label, and select the file to upload. Enter the description in the field below and click the Add/Update Files button. If you don't press the button then the files will not be uploaded when you submit the inline text item.


To add a LaTeX formula

You have several choices, depending on your knowledge of LaTeX.

  • If you know some LaTeX: The sigma icon with the + symbol opens a math box. Just type in common LaTeX commands. Upon exiting the box you will get the LaTeX output. (You also get the math box by typing a ` symbol.)
  • No LaTeX? Choosing the icon with a sigma (but no +) will give you a palette of mathematical symbols that you can then choose to create your mathematical formulas. I have no experience with this editor, but hopefully it works as well as the rest of the program.

To add a graph.

Click on the graph icon. This will place a graph symbol in your text. Now click again on the icon and follow fill in the form to get a graph. Some notes:

The blank for the x- variable appears twice. Where it appears just after the function blank, you are entering a domain for this single function - it can be left blank in most cases. Further down is a blank for the x and y variables. This defines the area of the graphing window. Once you have the graph you want you choose add graph.

Note that you can choose between a rectangular, polar and parametric plots. you can even mix them together in the same graphic. (See below.) I find this very useful when creating graphics in my class notes.

You can add several graphs to the same graphic. If you add a graph and it is not what you expected, you can edit the commands, the choose replace selected graph, to get the new - hopefully correct - graph.

You can also place closed and open dots and arrows on the end of your graphs, making it easy to create split-graphs for one-sided limit problems, or add an arrow to point out a feature of the graph.

Importing Materials from Others

If there is a course already created and you would like to steal material from that course, from within your course, go to the Course Items part of the menu and choose Copy. this will bring up a list of courses from which you may copy materials. Choose the course to plagiarize, and then the materials to copy (by default all the materials are selected, you may use the check box at the top to turn this off.)

If you want change the settings at the bottom of the page, then Copy, and you should be automatically returned to your main class page and the items chosen should appear there.

Adding assessments

Assessments can be used as homework assignments, quizzes, or tests. Assessments are one of the more difficult things to create in iMath.

To add an assessment select Add Assessment from the Add an Item.. dropdown.

First you will need to fill out the assessment title, summary, and instructions for students.

Assessments also allow you to configure what dates they will be available on.

In addition assessments allow many other configuration options

  • Require Password - require students to enter a password to take the assessment. Typically left blank
  • Time Limit - set the amount of time in minutes the students have to complete the assessment
  • Display Method - determines how the students will see the test
    • Full Test At Once - Displays all questions at once, the student can choose the order to complete them in
    • One Question At a Time - Display questions one at a time. Once a student submits an answer they cannot go back to the previous question
    • Full Test, Submit one at time - Displays all the questions at once, but allows questions to be submitted individually.
    • Skip Around - Displays a side bar listing each question, students can select the order they want to complete the questions in

Other options are available including setting the amount of points per problem, penalty for a missed attempt (this only applies if you allow a question to be attempted multiple times), Late passes and associated penalties.

Adding Questions to the Assessment

Once you have finished with the initial options click the submit button, and you will be taken to the Add/Remove Questions page. Here you can add questions from the existing libraries of questions or create your own questions.

To find a library click the Select Libraries button. This will open a new window with a tree view of the libraries of questions available. Expand the tree as necessary and select the libraries that you would like to use. Then scroll to the bottom and click the Use Libraries button.

You can then use the search box to search for questions by name.

  • If you want to see a list of all questions available leave the search box blank and click the search button

Each question will have a preview button that allows you to view the questions. Note that most questions use random number generators so the numbers each student sees will be different.

Check the box corresponding to each question that you want to add and then click the add button at the top.

You will then be presented with a screen that allows you to set the number of points each question is worth, the number of attempts a student is allowed to try on each question, and the number of copies of the question to add. Click submit when you have finished filling the form out. You will be brought back to the Add/Remove Questions page. If you are finished adding questions you can click the Done button, and the assessment will be created.

Adding Forums

You can also add forums that students can post to. A forum is created by select Add Forum from the Add an Item.. dropdown.

The configuration is the similar to the configuration for linked text. You can set the title and summary, dates available. You can also configure if you want to allow anonymous posts, receive email notifications of new posts, if students can create new threads, and if students can reply to posts.

Writing Questions

This guide is not intended to deal with writing questions, but you can see the links below for details. I want to put up a few comments for those who may want to know the basics.

  • The prerequisites are some general knowledge of programming and LaTeX. The programming appears to be PHP, but for anyone who has done much programming the syntax is familiar.
  • There are a wide variety of question types possible. For those just starting to write questions the number and calculated types are easiest to write. At some point you will want to write function type questions (symbolic) -- study a number of examples first.
  • If you decide to write your own questions, I would advise choosing similar problems to use as a template.
  • It is fairly easy - but time consuming - to add hints to your problems. See Aimee Krug or the links below for details.
  • If you have a function-type problem which will no accept the correct answer, you might want to set the domain variable or the tolerance variables.
  • There is a lot of documentation at the links below.
  • The WAMAP [2] site has a tutorial class on everything from getting started to writing problems. There is also an active forum at the site where you can ask questions or suggest improvements. You will need to request an account - feel free to mention my name (Aimee Krug)

Useful Links

Kudos

Thanks to Chis Fronk for writing most of this material.

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