Karishma

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14 years, 201 days

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These are Posts that have been published by Karishma

As we head back to school, I want to take a moment to thank all the math teachers out there who take on the demanding yet overlooked task of educating our children, teenagers, and young people. 

I'm where I am today because my calculus teacher, Prof. Srinivasan, was unwavering in her belief that my classmates and I could master any math topic, including calculus. Her conviction in me gave me the confidence to believe I could 'do' math. While Prof. Srinivasan made teaching look easy, I'm acutely aware that teaching math is no easy feat. Speaking with math educators regularly, I can appreciate how challenging teaching math is today compared to a decade ago. Not only do they have to teach the subject, but they must be able to teach it in-person and online, to a group of students that may not be up to speed on the prerequisite material, and in an era where disruptive technologies vie for their student's attention. No wonder math educators are so anxious about returning to the classroom this fall!

And while I wish I could abracadabra your worries away, what I can do is offer you the opportunity to use Maple Learn, a tool built to support the utopian vision of a world where all students love math. A world where math is for everyone, not just the gifted, and the purpose of math class is to explore and marvel at the wonders of the universe, not just get to the correct answer.

Slightly more concretely, Maple Learn is a flexible interactive environment for exploring concepts, solving problems, and creating rich online math content. I've seen educators use Maple Learn to help their students: 

I’ve talked to lots of instructors, in math, and in courses like economics and physics that use math, who have lots of ideas of how to engage their students and deepen their understanding through interactive online activities. What they don’t have are the tools, programming experience, deployment platform, or time to implement their vision. Fortunately, Maple Learn makes it incredibly easy to develop and share your own content, and all you need are your ideas and a web browser. But you don’t need to start from scratch. You can choose from an extensive, constantly growing repository of ready-made, easily customizable content covering a wide range of topics. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is, but since we are well aware that instructors are extremely busy people, we also have content development services that can help you transform your static content into interactive lessons.

If you haven't looked at Maple Learn, or it's been a while since you last saw it, you can visit Reinventing Math Education with Maple Learn for more information, including an upcoming webinar you might be interested in attending and a special offer on Maple Learn for Maple campuses. And if you ever want to discuss ways Maple Learn might help you, or have ideas on how to make it better, please reach out. I'm always up for good conversation. 

And for all the dedicated teachers who are taking a deep breath and heading back into the classroom this fall, thank you.

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Today is one of my favorite days of the year. After months and months of hard work by a lot of people, it’s finally arrived:

 

It's Maple launch day!

 

Yes, I am very pleased to announce that Maple 2022 is here.

 

As we’ve done in years past, Samir and I started this release by spending many hours reviewing feedback from Maple Primes posts, support emails, sessions with staff who regularly talk with customers and who use Maple themselves, and our own direct conversations with customers. Of course a year is never enough to implement every good idea, but our goal was to identity a feature set that would appeal to, delight, and hopefully excite our customers.

 

Ultimately, you will be the judge, but I can tell that there are some things in Maple 2022 that I am personally very excited about. These are “quality of life” improvements that have been requested by customs and make some things in Maple that were frankly kind of annoying a lot better. The rest of this post will discuss my favorite improvements in more detail (or you can watch this video), and of course, you can get much more information about these and all the other improvements in What’s New in Maple 2022.

 

#1 – Did you ever find yourself jumping back and forth between your Maple document and Print Preview, again and again, as you prepare your worksheet for printing or export to PDF? It can be a pain, especially with long documents that include plots, tables, and sections. So I'm happy to announce that Maple 2022 includes a new Print Layout mode. This new layout mode lets you see the page boundaries as you edit the document, so you can adjust your content as you go. In Maple 2022, what you see on the page is what you get when you print or export to PDF. Hurray!

 

 

 

 

#2 – Are you tired of explaining to your students why the graph of tan(x) doesn’t look right in Maple?  Good news!  With Maple 2022, you won’t have to have that conversation ever again. Maple 2022's new adaptive plotting algorithm means that when you plot tan(x), 1/(1-x), floor and ceiling functions, and most other curves with discontinuities, you’ll get what you expect by default – no more vertical lines, no need to specify the discont option, and it’s still fast.

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#3 – Did you ever run into a situation where zooming, panning, or resizing your plot didn’t actually give you the better view of the plot you were looking for? Now Maple recomputes and redraws when needed to give you what you wanted – a good look at your plot.

   

 

#4 – Are you a fan of the Plot Builder? If you are, I'm delighted to let you know that the Plot Builder in Maple 2022 now supports plotting multiple expressions together on the same axes. So don't hold back - use the Plot Builder to customize plots and animations of any number of 2-D and 3-D expressions plots and animations. (We also got rid of that annoying empty plot when you first open it, too.)

 

 

#5 - And, by popular demand, Maple 2022 now magnifies the text in the table of contents/search results when you magnify a help page. No more squinting to find the topic of interest. My eyes are much happier.

 

Those are my favorites, but there is a lot more in the release. To learn more about all the improvements in Maple 2022, visit What’s New in Maple 2022

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, at Maplesoft, I have the privilege of working with some of the most talented and creative minds around. My colleagues are constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can build and what our products can do.Christmas Wreath in Maple Learn

So to close out 2021, I wanted to share a video that one of our brilliant developers, Marek, sent the company. Marek emails a greeting every year wishing his Maplesoft colleagues a Happy Holiday.  Well, this year, he stepped it up a notch and created this superb video explaining "How to decorate for Christmas using Math", where he created a wreath using Maple Learn.

Watching the video brought a smile to my face, and I know it did the same for others.

I hope this video warms your heart as it did mine. On behalf of all of us at Maplesoft, Happy Holidays!

The most frequent question I get asked when presenting Maple Learn is: “How is Maple Learn different from Desmos?”  The second most frequent question is: “How is Maple Learn different from GeoGebra?”. And they are great questions! Why invest time in learning and introducing students to something new if it works and behaves exactly like something you already use? I certainly wouldn’t bother, and I can’t imagine that anyone else would either. So, in this post, I will do my best to articulate the differences as succinctly as possible, and we’ll be happy to arrange a demo for anyone who is interested in learning more.  Are you ready for another top 3 list!?

Disclaimer: Before we dive in, I’d like to start by saying that Desmos and GeoGebra are great tools. This post is not intended to disparage them. Rather my goal is to highlight the things that make Maple Learn unique.

So without further ado:

1. Maple Learn is the equivalent to doing math on paper, just better!

Maple Learn is akin to a digital math notebook. The canvas gives students the same feeling as solving a math problem on paper – the ability to work through a problem line by line, with explanations, notes, and additional calculations wherever they want them on the page – only with extras. Students can also use Maple Learn to perform tedious intermediate steps, see a graph to get a better sense of the problem, vary parameters to explore the effect on graphs and results, do a quick side calculation to double-check an individual step, and verify the final result.

2. Maple Learn takes a more holistic approach to learning

Where other tools focus predominately on visualization and getting the final answer, the Maple Learn environment supports much more of the teaching and learning experience.  Students can articulate their thought processes and mathematical reasoning using a combination of text, math, plots and images that can be placed anywhere on the canvas. Teachers can devise lessons in Maple Learn that focus not just on solving problems, but on developing skills in mathematical thinking, communication, and all the competencies and standards outlined in the curriculum. For example, instead of having your students work through the minutia of solving for x from two equations, you can create a document that focuses on having them set up the problem correctly, and then let them use the content panel to get the solution. Or you can use interactive supports, such as Algebra Tiles, to allow them to explain the concept of Completing the Square. Or give them an equation, and ask them to jot down features of the equation. The questions you can pose and the discussion that arises as a result is what sets Maple Learn apart from the rest. Because ultimately, the study of mathematics and science is about understanding, not the final answer.

3. Maple Learn is about math not commands

Maple Learn is an environment for learning math and math-based subjects, not about learning commands. So how do you perform an operation in Maple Learn? Easy! Maple Learn’s intelligent context-sensitive panel offers students a list of relevant operations to choose from, based on the mathematical equation or expression in question. This feature was first introduced in Maple over two decades ago, and it’s one of the most beloved features of students, teachers, and new Maple users, so of course we included it in Maple Learn. The context panel means that you and your students can focus on learning math not commands.

And here’s a bonus for making it all the way through:

4. You can pull math into Maple Learn really easily using the Maple Calculator

Let’s face it, for now at least, there will always be students who will feel more comfortable doing math on paper. It’s like tomato soup and grilled cheese – some things are meant to go together. So to make the transition from paper to digital easier, students can take a picture of their problem, or even their completed handwritten solution and bring them into Maple Learn instantly. That way, they can have the comfort of paper, AND the advantages of the digital environment. (I’d say something about having their cake and eating it too, but all this talk of food is making me hungry!)

One of the things I love most about my job is working and collaborating with math teachers across the globe. Every discussion leads to additional insights into the challenges facing teachers today, and new ideas on how to make Maple and Maple Learn better. And sometimes, I even learn some math I thought I already knew!

A few months ago, I introduced Maple Learn to a friend of mine who teaches high school math in Kingston, Ontario. I showed her how she could use Maple Learn to teach many concepts during our call, including Completing the Square. I walked her through Maple Learn’s free-form canvas and explained how her students could work through a problem line-by-line just as they would in their notebooks. I highlighted the live plot window and showed how her students could graphically verify that their solution was equivalent to the initial expression. And, I demonstrated the power of Maple Learn’s intelligent context panel and how her students could check their answers algebraically. I thought I had done a good job, until she said: “Karishma, that’s not how we teach Completing the Square anymore!”. Huh! I was floored. What I had shown was the way I had learned the concept so many years ago. I was surprised to learn that there was a new way.

My friend then introduced me to Algebra Tiles and how she used it to teach Completing the Square. Once we went through a few examples, I realized that I had never fully appreciated what I was doing when I completed the square. I had memorized a series of steps without really understanding what I was trying to do. The progression of our discussion naturally led to the inevitable question: “Karishma, does Maple Learn include Algebra tiles? Because that would be a game-changer for my students. Currently, we use physical tiles, but with remote learning, we need something digital.” At that time, my answer was ‘not yet’; however, with the introduction of image support last week, I’m happy to announce that Maple Learn can support algebra tiles and other interactive supports.

Here is the Maple Learn document I created on Completing the Square using Algebra Tiles.

Feel free to change the expressions listed in the document and share it with your students. To see algebra tiles in action inside Maple Learn, take a look at the short video that I created.  If you have any suggestions for improving this application, please feel free to let me know.

 


 

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