Since discovering that Windows Messenger supports ink almost seamlessly, even to non-tablet machines, I’ve offered online help to more than a few far-off friends taking math classes (how does a math teacher end up with so many friends who are math-phobic and trying to pass a basic college math course for the n+1st time?). Giving this kind of help before was always hindered by the lack of an easy way to communicate mathematics online. Innovate, a “journal of online education,” recently published an article titled “Synchronous Chat and Electronic Ink for Distance Support in Mathematics” discussing the use of Windows/MSN messenger for distance communication between instructor and student in mathematics:
In the following pilot study, we investigate the mechanics of employing a freely available chat client (MSN Messenger) for the teaching of mathematics to distance students. The client incorporates an electronic ink function that allows users to directly post and edit mathematical formulae and diagrams while communicating synchronously, thereby avoiding the technological limitations noted by previous researchers. In this study we explore the benefits and the difficulties experienced by students and instructors in the use of the client, and we provide the results of a course survey in which students assessed the value of MSN Messenger for distance courses in mathematics.
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