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A Computing Mathematics Success Story

By Frederico Almeida, Level 4, BSc (Hons) in Computer Science with Industrial Placement

Frankly, in the online teaching world, engaging us students can be an arduous task! This is a challenge, I’m sure all lecturers like Ovidiu Badgdasar, must be familiar with. Thankfully, his efforts, and those of the graduate students assisting him, have paid off with them delivering a very well regarded module by me and my fellow students. The module also had fantastic attainment and even the occasional 100% engagement!  I am all too happy to share their success.

How Did We Get Here?

In this module all the resources are also hosted in OneNote, but the notetaking features it offers enable the lifeless slides to be full of useful and lively annotations, which were made during the lecture; might I add! No extra work, all the notes and slides in one place. This is a lifeline to students like me, the extra examples, workings out, and sketches all one click away and not locked away in an 1h+ long lecture recording.

To get the most out of the OneNote it is best to keep it organised. Luckily, it offers familiar organisational concepts like Books – which you can share to the cohort of that specific module; with Sections – that Ovidiu uses to separate out his week’s materials; and Pages where he can simply drop his presentations or documents in any format and start annotating with OneNote on a printout version.

When you do get to annotating, it can be hard even with the best equipment to draw like you did with a pen and paper so his use of the Ink to Shape feature took the wonky lines and difficult to make out sketches, at times, to straight lines and clearer sketches. In addition, for those times when you need to draw a graph and be precise, you have a choice of grid or rule lines. Which he used to make his vector diagrams accurate and more easily understood by us all. Specifically, for Modules like these OneNote offers catered features that facilitate the writing, visualising, and solving of formulae. Though this has not had much use in the lectures so far, it has come to my aid in several study sessions.

Taking It to The Next Level

Resourcefulness and making the most out of the generosity of your students can take your classes even further! For example, Ovidiu assembled a small team of graduate students to volunteer setting up blackboard polls so lectures can flow even more smoothly and generate really good engagement throughout.  Especially during tutorials where most of the time is spent going through and solving examples. I believe learning is always enhanced by a few polls, it’s something we students often rave about.

Variety is also good so you might like to play a video to change it up instead? OneNote allows hassle free playing of video by letting you drop in a player as you would a picture anywhere, so easy! This lets students following the lecture in OneNote in real-time, or anytime afterwards, to easily watch the video too.

A Note On Accessibility

For students with learning difficulties and or auditory listeners, OneNote offers accessibility features like being able to change the page’s background to any colour that best helps visual stress, and the built-in voice recorder can offer great ease of access, especially helpful to those who only have access to a phone or tablet, and even, to listen offline.

Now Is Our Time

One of student’s biggest shared annoyances right now is remote learning technology getting in the way. Be it with how we engage with the material, how we take notes or how we keep ourselves engaged. I say let us rise to the challenge and continue to give it our best, let use technology like OneNote and Blackboard, to work alongside us and not against us. Let us play to OneNote’s great notetaking and resource management features and Blackboard’s Realtime interactivity. Let us share the success In Ovidiu’s Computational Mathematics module to all students.