Announcing Maple T.A. 10

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After lots of hard work, vast amounts of testing, and enormous anticipation, Maple T.A. 10 is now available! Maple T.A. 10 is by far our biggest release to date - and we’re not just saying that. When we compare the list of new features and improvements in Maple T.A. 10 with that of previous releases, it’s clear that Maple T.A. 10 has the largest feature set and improvements to date.

June Live Webinars

by: Maple

Maplesoft regularly hosts live webinars on a variety of topics. Below you will find details on some upcoming webinars we think may be of interest to the MaplePrimes community.  For the complete list of upcoming webinars, visit our website.

Bring Statistics Education to Life!

This exciting new webinar will demonstrate some of the ways that educators can take advantage of Maple’s symbolic and numeric approach for statistics education. Examples will include basic statistics theory including descriptive statistics such as measures of central tendency and spread, hypothesis testing, as well as discrete and continuous random variables.

Many examples presented in this webinar will be taken from the new Student Statistics package that was introduced in Maple 18. The Student Statistics was designed with classroom use in mind, and features detailed explanations and instructions, interactive demonstrations, and visualizations, all of which are great learning tools for teaching a course involving probability and statistics.

Symbolic Computing for Engineering

As engineering applications become more complex, it is becoming increasingly difficult to satisfy the often-conflicting project constraints using traditional tools. As a result, we’ve found there is a growing interest within the engineering community for tools that make engineering calculations transparent and capture not just results but also the knowledge and analysis used throughout the engineering workflow. Engineering organizations are achieving this goal by making symbolic techniques an integral part of their tool set.

In this webinar, Laurent Bernardin will demonstrate how to enhance the early-stage design phase by making mathematical computations explicit and transparent, and then integrating the results into an existing tool chain.

Multiple Choice Questions: Not So Ordinary Anymore...

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I think we all know the routine. We walk to a large classroom, we sit down for a test, we receive a large stack of questions stapled together and then we fill in tiny bubbles on a separate sheet that is automatically graded by a scanning machine. We’ve all been there. I was thinking recently about how far the humble multiple choice question has come over the last few years with the advent of systems like Maple T.A., and so I did a little research.

Multiple choice questions were first widely-distributed during World War I to test the intelligence of recruits in the United States of America. The army desired a more efficient way of testing as using written and oral evaluations was very time consuming. Dr. Robert Yerkes, the psychologist who convinced the army to try a multiple choice test, wanted to convince people that psychiatry could be a scientific study and not just philosophical. A few years later, SATs began including multiple choice questions. Since then, educational institutions have adopted multiple choice questions as a permanent tool for many different types of assessments.

One of the biggest advances in the use of multiple choice questions was the birth of automatic grading through the use of machine-readable papers. These grew in popularity during the mid-70s as teachers and instructors saved time by not having to grade answer sheets manually.

Until recently, there has not been much advancement in this area.  It’s true, Maple T.A. can do so much more than just multiple choice questions, so this style of question is less important in large-scale testing than it used to be. But multiple choice questions still have their place in an automated testing system, where uses include leveraging older content, easily detecting patterns of misunderstanding, requiring students to choose from different images, and minimizing student interaction with the system. Luckily, Maple T.A. takes even the humble multiple choice questions to the next level. Now you might be thinking, how is that even possible given the basic structure of multiple choice questions? What could possibly be done to enhance them?

Well, for starters, in Maple T.A., you can permute the answers. This means you have the option to change the order of the choices for each student. This is also possible with machine-readable papers, but this does require multiple solution sets for a teacher or instructor to keep track of. With Maple T.A., everything is done for you. For example, if you have a multiple choice question in Maple T.A. with 5 answer choices, there are 120 different possible answer orders that students can be presented with. You don’t have to keep track of extra solution sets or note which test version each student is receiving. Maple T.A. takes care of it all.

Maple T.A. allows you to create Algorithmic questions - multiple choice questions in which you can vary different values in your question. And you aren’t limited to selecting values from a specific range, either. For example, you can select a random integer from a pre-defined list, a random number that satisfies a mathematical condition, such as ‘divisible by 3’ or ‘prime’, or even a random polynomial or matrix with specific characteristics. It allows an instructor to create a single question template, but have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of possible question outcomes based on the randomly selected values for the algorithmic variables. The algorithmic variables not only apply to the question being asked by a student, but also the choices they see in a multiple choice question.

You can even create a question where every student gets the same fixed list of choices, but the question varies to ensure that the correct response changes.  That’s going to confuse some students who are doing a little more “collaboration” than is appropriate!

Some of the other advantages of using Maple T.A. for multiple choice are also common to all Maple T.A. question types. For example, you can provide instant, customized feedback to your students. If a student gets a multiple choice question correct, you can provide feedback showing the solution (who is to say the student didn’t guess and get this question correct?) If a student gets a multiple choice question incorrect, you can provide targeted feedback that depends on which response they chose. This allows you to customize exactly what a student sees in regards to feedback without having to write it out by hand each time.

And of course, like in other Maple T.A. questions, multiple choice questions can include mathematical expressions, plots, images, audio clips, videos, and more – in the questions and in the responses.

Finally, let’s not forget, in an online testing environment, there is no panic when you realized you accidently skipped line 2 while filling out your card, no risk of paper cuts, and no worrying about what kind of pencil to use!

References:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/dark-history-of-multiple-choice-ainissa-ramirez

http://xkcd.com/499/

http://io9.com/5908833/the-birth-of-scantrons-the-bane-of-standardized-testing

Announcing Maple 18

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This is one of my favorite events of the year. When we launch a new release of Maple, I get to see the work of so many talented individuals at Maplesoft come together in a form that I am sure will delight, and maybe even surprise you.

We are holding true to our principles with Maple 18. Hundreds of new mathematical algorithms further strengthen a computational engine that will help you tackle your toughest challenges. The user interface experience continues to become smarter, allowing you to focus on getting results without fighting with syntax. Connectivity options are again becoming richer.

A personal favorite of mine is the newly enhanced Explore functionality, which allows you to, with a couple of clicks, go from a mathematical expression to an interactive Math App. Math Apps allow you to explore the parameter space of the expression, gain insight into its behavior and even, in conjunction with Maple T.A., produce a gradeable Möbius App that allows you to assess a student’s interaction with the app and hence their understanding of the underlying concepts. The expanded Explore functionality is just part of a collection of advancements in Maple 18 that support The Möbius Project.

Overall, the new features of Maple 18 are quite numerous and I won’t try to list them all here. However, I do want to mention a few areas that have received special attention:

• Statistics: Maple 18 includes lots of enhancements to statistics computations and visualization, such as new time series functionality that allows you to find patterns, make forecasts, and visualize time-based data. For the classroom, a new Student Statistics package, together with a range of bundled Math Apps, provide a simplified and interactive environment for instructors and students alike.

• Physics: This package for representing and computing with concepts from general relativity to quantum mechanics continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with over 500 enhancements just in this release alone. We are convinced that this is the best computational environment available for researchers in this area.

• Engineering: Key enhancements for control analysis, signal processing, and code generation to Python and Perl are just a few of the new features that engineers will note and appreciate. There’s even import/export for STL graphics files, which, amongst other things, means you can now print out your favorite Maple plots on a 3-D printer!

I think you will agree that Maple 18 exemplifies all the effort and attention that we have put into it.  And there’s more to come - this release is just the start of a stream of product announcements that you can expect from us in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Maplesoft’s Academic Virtual User Summit and the...

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On Thursday, Feb. 27, we are hosting our first-ever Virtual User Summit.   This day provides Maplesoft’s academic community a chance to learn more about the different ways Maplesoft technology is being used in education and research, a chance to interact with Maplesoft employees as well as each other, and a chance to get a glimpse into the future of education.

The virtual nature of this conference is a very tangible example of how much technology has changed our lives.  No less dramatic is the effect of technology on education.  In the keynote presentations at this conference, you will learn about Maplesoft’s vision for the future of education. You’ll also get to see tangible examples of technology that is building towards that vision, including sneak peeks of some things we are working on.

Visit Maplesoft Virtual User Summit for the full agenda and to register.  “Doors open” at 8:30 Eastern Time and the keynote presentations start at 9:00.

We are looking forward to this chance to come together and share our passion for technology and technical education.  Hope to see you there!

Maple T.A. takes math contest online, doubles...

by: Maple T.A.

Maplesoft is a long standing supporter of the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician contest for high school students. For years, we have donated Maple as prizes to winners of the national and regional contests.

This year, being the 25th anniversary of Maplesoft’s incorporation, the company decided to support several projects that encourage the use of math amongst high school students and young adults. We dedicated a bigger budget towards projects that would enable us to make a significant impact on students and impress upon them the need for math and science in their future careers.

One project we undertook this year is giving an extreme makeover to the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician contest! With Maplesoft as a “Technology Sponsor”, the contest that was administered on pen-and-paper moved to a digital format. We donated our testing and assessment tool, Maple T.A. to administer the tests online, making the software accessible to every student that participated. This meant the students took an online test, and were automatically and instantly graded using Maple T.A.

The 2013 competition is underway, and the results are extremely positive:

• The number of students that participated in the contest doubled this year, with over 2000 students from over 150 schools participating.
• The competition introduced a second level of tests, making the competition more rigorous. After the first elimination round, eligible contestants moved to a second round with questions of increased difficulty levels.
• By avoiding much of the paper work and manual corrections, the organizers saw significant savings in time and money.

Custom test questions were created in Maple T.A., which were accessed by students from a server hosted by Maplesoft. The simple and easy to use interface of Maple T.A. enabled the students to take the test without spending time learning the tool. Maple T.A. supports the use of standard mathematical notation in both the question text and student responses. Maple T.A. also allows free-response questions, including questions that have more than one correct answer.

Who Wants to Be a Mathematician is a math contest for high school students, organized by the American Mathematical Society (AMS), as part of its Public Awareness Program. Ten students will be chosen for the semifinals and two will qualify for the finals to be held at the Joint Math Meetings in January 2014.

More information about the contest that is currently in progress can be found on the AMS website

English Language Proficiency Tests

by: Maple T.A.

We’ve recently added a new set of questions to the Maple T.A. Cloud for English language proficiency tests. These questions demonstrate how Maple T.A. can be used to generate text-based questions that take advantage of the randomization feature. These questions were created by Metha Kamminga, an Independent Learning Professional in the Netherlands. Metha is a strong proponent of Maple T.A. in Europe, and transformed the testing and assessment system in Delft University before her retirement.

TU Delft University aims to transform learning through the use of technology. Its ambition is to eventually offer fully digitalized degree programs and it believes that digital testing and assessment can play an important role within this process. They are using Maplesoft’s online testing and assessment suite, Maple T.A., to move their courses to a digital assessment environment. To read the full user story, click here.

Visit the Maple T.A. Cloud to access the questions mentioned above and to browse the full collection of questions.

14 Additional Clickable Calculus Solutions Posted

by: Maple

Fourteen Clickable Calculus examples have been added to the Teaching Concepts with Maple area of the Maplesoft web site. Four are sequence and series explorations taken from algebra/precalculus, four are applications of differentiation, four are applications of integration, and two are problems from the lines-and-planes section of multivariate calculus. By my count, this means some 111 Clickable Calculus examples have now been posted to the section.

Introducing Maple T.A. 9.5

by: Maple T.A.

I am happy to formally announce Maple T.A. 9.5! An expansion on Maple T.A. 9, this release is packed full of innovative features and new tools to assist academic institutions with a variety of different teaching and assessment tasks.

Ever have an issue on your campus where students are required to learn a new piece of technology, but you don’t know how to get them prepared for it? With Maple T.A. 9.5, we have included pre-built content to assist students in learning how to use the Maple T.A. environment, and students can take the new Readiness Test to educate themselves on how to use the system. Tasks such as enabling Java, navigating assignments, grading tests, searching for help, and much more are taught in an interactive setting, and give students the right information they need to become comfortable with Maple T.A.

We haven’t forgotten about instructors and teachers either. We have completely revamped our Instructor Examples to provide educators with a sample question of every single question type in Maple T.A. – that’s over 25 different examples! Instructors are given descriptions, feature lists, and examples for each question type. Additionally, we also created a new Sample Assignment that shows instructors what a typical assignment looks like. They can explore this assignment from both instructor and student viewpoints to test out different options and see what the experience will be like.

Essay questions have been foundational in Maple T.A. for several years now, and Maple T.A. 9.5.makes it even easier to provide feedback for students submitting essays. With the Essay Annotation feature, instructors have the ability to mark-up an essay with comments using a simple drag and drop tool. Using this new tool, your students will be able to see your comments and take note of any issues they had in their writing.

Power outages, automatic updates, computer crashes... we’ve all experienced these unpredictable events, and they can be catastrophic for students trying to meet due dates or if assignments are timed. To help with this Maple T.A. has expanded its Proctor Tools feature.  Instructors can now grant individual students with additional time or date extensions if there are ever any issues.

We’re also giving you a sneak peak at some up-and-coming technology: Gradeable Math Apps. As part of The Möbius Project, you can now embed an interactive Maple worksheet in a Maple T.A. question. Students can move sliders, push buttons, click on plot windows and much more directly inside of a Maple T.A. question. Students are then automatically graded on their interaction with the Math App – just like other question types in Maple T.A.

All these features are all for Maplesoft-hosted and self-hosted users, which also includes all the great stuff from Maple T.A. 9:

• New Question Repository
• Maple T.A. Cloud
• Hint Deductions
• Reworking Assignments
• MathJax Support
• Permanent User Deletion
• Customizable User Interface
• Multiple Instructors for a Class
• And much more!

At Maplesoft, we are extremely excited about Maple T.A. 9.5, and can’t wait for schools all over the world to begin using it!  And as always, we are very interested in hearing from you about your experiences with Maple T.A., as well as any suggestions you have for future releases.

by: Maple

Thirteen Clickable Calculus examples have been added to the Teaching Concepts with Maple section of the Maplesoft web site. The additions include examples in algebra, differential and integral calculus, lines-and-planes in multivariate calculus, and linear algebra. By my count, this means some 97 Clickable Calculus examples are now available.

In the Algebra/Precalculus section, examples of an

Platforms for next release

by: Maple

We conduct regular reviews of our platform support to ensure that we are focusing on the platforms that are most valued by our customers. Based on our most recent review, we will offer the next release of Maple on the platforms listed below. As additional versions of operating systems on these platforms are announced, we will take those into account as well.

Supported Platforms and Operating Systems
Windows
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2012
Windows 8

Linux
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
Ubuntu 13.10 (Planned)

Mac
OS X 10.7
OS X 10.8

Discontinued
Mac OS X 10.6
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 update 5
Ubuntu 12.10
Oracle Solaris 10 (the next release of Maple will not be available on Solaris)

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reply to this topic, or contact us directly at: maplepm (at) maplesoft.com

Animating a Related-Rate Problem

by: Maple

In a webinar on July 10, 2013, I solved the related rate problem:

Helium is pumped into a spherical balloon at the constant rate of 25 cu ft per min.
At what rate is the surface area of the balloon increasing at the moment when its radius is 8 ft?

A question in the Q&A at the end of the Webinar asked if it were possible to have an animation illustrate the expanding sphere and the rate of change in the surface area thereof.

The Möbius Project: The Next Phase

by: Maple Maple T.A. MapleNet

Technology is changing the face of education. An obvious statement, of course. Everybody from students to instructors to parents will agree. Over 40 years ago, the introduction of the pocket calculator allowed us to change the focus from menial calculations to applying our knowledge to solve problems and discover the power of mathematics.

Since then we have seen leaps from innovation to innovation. The personal computer. Computer Algebra systems. Tablet computing....

Introducing the Maple IDE

by: Maple Maple IDE

Everyone knows that Maple combines a smart user interface with a highly sophisticated mathematical engine, where common tasks are performed quickly and seamlessly with point, click and drag operations. Of equal importance, however, is the fact that Maple is also backed by a comprehensive programming language. Also called "Maple", this language combines elements from procedural languages (like C), functional languages (like Lisp) as well as object oriented languages (like C++...

Quandl library for Maple

by: Maple

Using the Quandl API, we have created a Quandl library for Maple.  The Quandl library for Maple provides easy access to Quandl’s repository of over 5 million time-series datasets from directly inside Maple, allowing you to utilize Maple’s robust tools for mathematical statistics and data analysis on Quandl’s extensive collection of data.  This library features a similar set of functionalities to the Quandl

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