> Kirby Urner Posted: Sep 26, 2011 5:02 PM > > > > Jerry Uhl was one such person, and my respect for > for him is boundless. But, did he change the nature > of the calculus curriculum in any large and important > way? I am guessing "no", for two reasons. > > First, had Uhl succeeded, I think we would have > ave heard a lot more about him and his program. > Second, there is the basic question of what is > s fundamentally wrong with the calculus curriculum. >
I'd like to address this thought, since it hits home and misses many of the issues involved in trying to reform a dinosaur with the massive inertia that Mathematics Education has.
As far as I know, The Calculus&Mathematica project is the lone remaining project from the NSF Calculus reform movement in the late 80s and early 90s. It is still being taught at the university of Illinois both on campus and off through Netmath. It has been extremely successful there, and qualitative studies have shown solid results in the carry over skills that students carry over to their other studies such as engineering.
The reason it hasn't spread to other institutions has nothing to do with it's effectiveness. It has to do with the difficulty and cost of adoption which thus far has been too much of a barrier for the system to go much beyond the walls of Algeld Hall at the University of Illinois.
The system as it stands currently has many points of friction. First, in order to adopt this system, a professor or department has to get Mathematica in the hands of students and teachers, then they must put together a learning management system to handle handin and handback. But even beyond the support and cost upfront, now an instructor must manage 40 to 50 mathematica notebooks everytime a homework is due. All of this is simply too much to ask.
My team and I are doing something about this. This January we are launching "Making Math" which takes the materials produced by Jerry Uhl and company and repackages them into a distributed online system that includes a high fidelity online version of mathematica, web based learning management tools, mathematica enabled forums, and gives instructors the ability to edit and add content.
Now suddenly with the friction points gone and added features the materials that Jerry Uhl produced will be readily adoptable by anyone with a web browser.