l-r: Mindy Ogden, Jamie Mulholland, Matthew DeVos (centre, in pj’s) and Veselin Jungic are promoting a new online math program in calculus.

No dress code for online math course

December 3, 2009

Veselin Jungic is always coming up with new ways to entice students.

First, the senior math lecturer introduced his cartoon superhero Math Girl and two animated short films to help explain difficult concepts to his first-year calculus class.

Now, he and lecturer Jamie Mulholland have developed an interactive online version of Math 150—Calculus 1 with Review—to help students learn the important but challenging branch of mathematics.

Calculus is compulsory for all undergrads pursuing a degree in the physical or applied sciences, but nearly one-fifth of students fail or have difficulty passing the course’s first semester.

Jungic and Mulholland hope the interactivity and convenience of their online course will significantly boost student success. In fact, they’d like to see the weakest math students enrol, since the online course mimics the in-class environment but is enriched with instant feedback on assignments, which are linked to discussion boards and chat rooms.

"The aim is to build confidence and comprehension," says Mulholland.

Assistant math professor Matthew DeVos is starring in several humorous videos on YouTube, at i.sfu.ca/TkgtIN, touting the benefits of the course, which starts in January 2010.

In one of the videos, filmed and edited by math department undergraduate secretary, Mindy Ogden, a pyjama-clad DeVos shows up on his bicycle late for the live class—something online students won’t have to worry about.