Here and there
calculus problemsCourse tele-taught to high schol students
By Fariss Samarrai
people probably have never heard of the method of Lagrange multipliers,
but nine Albemarle High School students were frantically waving
to their U.Va. professor to ask if they could use the short-cut
calculating method on their next calculus test.
John Faulkner couldnt hear his high school students
he had turned off the audio to their classroom at the end of his
lecture but he saw on the video monitor at the back of
his Cabell Hall classroom that they were trying to get his attention.
He turned the audio on and they asked their question.
Yes, he said, you can use the Lagrange multipliers
the students said. Sweet!
are no ordinary high school students, and this is no ordinary
high school class. In fact, its a college class, Calculus
III, taught by Faulkner to his 33 U.Va. students on Grounds, and
broadcast live three times per week to nine highly achieving students
at Albemarle High School.
students had completed all of the calculus classes at the high
school, and they came to their senior year saying Whats
next? said Albemarle High School math teacher and
department chair Carla Hunt. We didnt have an answer
until this class was arranged with U.Va.
answer came from Steve Macko, U.Va. professor of environmental
sciences, and father of one of the students in Hunts Albemarle
class. Macko and others have used teleconferencing technology
in collaboration with U.Va.s Telemedicine program
to broadcast U.Va. classes to students at universities
in southern Africa. Knowing that his son Nikolas would have a
big block of his school day empty without a math class, Macko
got the idea to use teleducation technologies to bring Faulkners
class to Albemarle.
tried to get Monticello High School involved with this too, but
there was a scheduling conflict, Macko said. But we
do have the capability to broadcast classes to three or four sites
off Grounds. This is something wed like to try in the future.
telemedicine program visually links Health System faculty and
care providers with hospitals and clinics around the Commonwealth.
It is a natural fit to use the same technology to broadcast U.Va.
classes to school systems. But one big technical glitch came up
for the Albemarle class: the high school did not have enough bandwidth
on its Internet connection to accept a live class.
and Eugene Sullivan, director of telemedicine, made a few phone
calls. Sprint donated high-speed phone lines to the high school
with monthly service. Publisher Brooks-Cole provided textbooks
to Albemarle teachers and students, at the request of U.Va. math
lecturer Daria Giffen.
things get done through the help, cooperation and enthusiasm of
a lot of people, Macko said.
far, the class is a success.
is the best math class ever, said Albemarle student Igor
Rapinchuk. No offense, Mrs. Hunt, he said, looking
at his teacher.
are highly motivated students, Hunt said. They love
Shih, an Albemarle student, said she is enjoying the college
experience and the one-on-one help she and the other students
get from Richelle Dietz, Faulkners teaching assistant and
a Curry School student teacher in Hunts class.
class is much more fast-paced and challenging than a high
school class, Shih said.
said he wishes his sons had an opportunity to take a class like
this when they were in high school. These Albemarle students
are roughly comparable in math ability to U.Va. students,
he said. There is a real need for this kind of opportunity
to bring the class to them.
disadvantage of a teleducation course, Faulkner said, is that
students at the high school do not have easy access to his office
hours. And hes also noticed that the Albemarle students
are somewhat reluctant to ask questions during class broadcasts.
did ask questions once when I visited them at the high school,
Faulkner said, so I dont know if the technology creates
a barrier or if they simply dont have questions during class.
said the students seem to shy away from having the video camera
focused on them individually. However, they are doing well on
quizzes and exams.
they had to make do without Lagrange multipliers on their most
was nothing on the test that allowed them to use the method,