Synchronous chat and electronic ink for distance support in mathematics

Loch, Birgit and McDonald, Christine (2007) Synchronous chat and electronic ink for distance support in mathematics. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 3 (3). pp. 1-5.


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For online mathematics instructors, synchronous communication can be a challenge due to the need for specialized symbols, graphics, or notations to explain key concepts. While software tools exist to support such communication, they can often be cumbersome and time-consuming for users to adopt in online exchanges. As one way of addressing this problem, Birgit Loch and Christine McDonald investigate the feasibility of employing a freely available chat client for the teaching of mathematics to distance students. The distinctive value of this chat client comes from a handwriting or 'electronic ink' tool that allows users to create and edit mathematical formulae and diagrams rapidly in real time, thereby allowing for a more fluid pace of communication. To assess this tool, Loch and McDonald conducted a pilot study in two undergraduate mathematics-based courses taught at a distance; in this study the authors used the client in a series of online tutorials with student volunteers, and they then evaluated the quality of communication in the tutorials as well as the results of a survey administered to the students. The results indicate that while the tool may require some practice to use, it was sufficiently flexible to accommodate both textual and graphic-based communications; moreover, the students found it a valuable resource for online tutorials in the discipline. The authors conclude with a recommendation of this convenient tool as a viable option for online mathematics instructors.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This paper originally accepted for ICTM3 (3rd International Conference on Mathematics Education, 30 Jun-5 Jul 2006, Istanbul, Turkey.) The two versions are sufficiently different to warrant both versions being made available. Authors retain copyright of journal article.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Maths and Computing
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:50
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:39
Uncontrolled Keywords: electronic ink; synchronous chat; distance education
Fields of Research : 08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0805 Distributed Computing > 080503 Networking and Communications
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies

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