Welcome to Spring 2019!

I'll be posting a few ideas/thoughts that came out of attending the JMM (Joint Math Meetings) in Baltimore last week.  There are some changes I am going to make to my classes this semester from what I've learned.  But first, I would like to answer a question that I received which wraps up my earlier blog posts about going OER.

The short answer is - after doing OER for a year, I switched back to a publisher's textbook.  Not Zill (at the time, it was $215 for our students) but Nagel with Pearson (for Direct Digital Access, the cost will be around $120 $103.99 for students).  The real reason I switched was because I was impressed with the robustness of the online homework with MyLab Math.  My biggest challenge with this class was correcting homework in a timely manner.  I posted solutions immediately after the due date, but students wanted their own work back, graded, faster than I was able to do so.  

My current setup is to have weekly assignments due in MyLab Math as well as 4 written homework assignments turned in by paper in class.   *** After attending the conference, I found out some of the capabilities of MyLab that I hadn't been using -- the ability to write my own questions and have students take pictures of their work and upload it to MyLab for manual grading later.  This way, students can keep their work to compare to my posted solutions while allowing me to see and grade detailed student work.

BUT... I think OER is still a viable option.  The Lebl book was, for the most part, a solid book.  There were times I felt the need to supplement with other materials.  The best resource (which we got author permission to use) was Paul’s Online Notes.  The HUGE deficit, in my opinion, was the homework set.  Some questions were amazingly easy, others very complex and difficult.  So I used Schaum’s  Outline of Differential Equations (available around $10-12) for homework sets.

OER is doable with those three references, and it is good for students to start getting used to multiple sources for a class, but the grading load (and my desire to have faster student feedback for homework questions) made me go back to a publisher book.  


  1. JMM 2019
  2. OER

Comments on this entry

  1. Brian Winkel

    I never thought of the fact that a commercial book can (1) offer better problems for homework and (2) can ease the grading. Thus, since time is money for the teacher as it is for students that is something to consider.

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    Replying to Brian Winkel

    1. Dina Yagodich

      We are using RedShelf -- part of an Opt In digital access platform our school is trying.  The cost per student is $103, which is, I think, a reasonable price for a college textbook/homework system.  I think it gives students good value and more rapid and complete feedback, and it does make my grading load much less heavy (we don't get TAs to grade :-) )

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      Replying to Dina Yagodich

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