Department: | Mathematics Faculty Computing Facility | ||

Grade: | USG 8–11 | Reports to: | Director, First Year Studies/ Chair/ Department Director |

These positions provide a broad range of instructional support to faculty in the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics & Optimization, Pure Mathematics, and Statistics & Actuarial Science within the Faculty of Mathematics (the “Math” Departments). The courses to be supported will be determined by the Department Chairs and/or Director of First-Year Studies, in consultation with the Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies. All Instructional Support Coordinators are accountable to the Technical Manager of the Math Faculty Computing Facility; they take functional direction from the faculty members responsible for the courses they support.

The explosive growth of personal computing in recent years, together with the development of mathematical packages such as Maple and MatLab, make the use of computers in teaching mathematics courses attractive. The many demands on faculty, however, often make it impractical for them to allocate the time necessary to develop and maintain suitable courseware; indeed, simply coordinating large first and second year courses is a burdensome task.

The purpose of these positions is therefore to leverage faculty time and expertise by providing staff

- knowledgeable in both computer technology and the relevant mathematics who can collaborate effectively with faculty in finding, evaluating and implementing innovative and pedagogically useful ways of using computers to aid in the teaching of mathematics,
- with the organizational skills necessary to assist in the coordination and management of multi-section courses
- and the interpersonal skills needed to interact well with students one-on-one and in tutorials, and with graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants.

Math Instructional Support Coordinators are responsible for some or all of the following: developing course material under the direction of faculty, editing existing course material, assisting in marking assignments, archiving marks and course materials, and providing instruction on the use of software in computing labs. There is an emphasis on computer-based course materials, which involve both software development and the preparation of explanatory material, exercises, etc. delivered via the internet.

Organizational Relationships

Instructional Support Coordinators take functional direction from the instructors for the course(s) they support. They are responsible for training graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants in the use of courseware where relevant. Math ISC staff consult frequently with MFCF staff regarding the technical aspects of developing and maintaining courseware.

Math ISC staff work extensively with students in a variety of ways:

- present material in computer labs;
- work with faculty in preparing material for tutorials;
- work co-operatively with students and teaching assistants in tutorials;
- explain course material to students one-on-one (e.g., during office hours);
- via e-mail & news groups.

Other significant internal relationships: the Associate Dean of Mathematics for Undergraduate Studies, the Associate Chairs for Undergraduate Studies, administrative staff in the Math Departments, faculty undergraduate advisors, the Math Undergraduate Office.

Occasional interaction may also occur with the Department of Distance Education, Co-operative Education & Career Services, the Office for Persons with Disabilities, Graphics and members of the CS Instructional Support Group.

Significant external relationships: book publishers and the vendors of software whose products are or might be used by students.

In all of these the ability to listen attentively, ask insightful questions tactfully, convey interest, and demonstrate enthusiasm is crucial.

Description of the Working Environment

The Math Departments use a variety of hardware and software, which are continually evolving. A particular Math ISC staff member will need significant expertise in some (but likely not all) of the following:

Operating Systems: MS Windows (Nexus) and Unix.

Software: Maple, MatLab, R/Splus, Mathcad, UWonE, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, FileMaker, HTML/XML/CSS/Javascript.

Networking: the internet and file sharing, cgi’s, news groups, email.

Preparing courseware will involve small to medium scale programming with the software indicated and significant use of the web.

Math ISC are provided an office equipped with a personal computer and/or thin client and whatever software is required for the courses they support.

Challenges

- Implementing ideas for the use of computers to support the teaching of mathematics in interesting and robust ways.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the courseware developed and suggesting ways to improve it.
- Providing timely response in an environment of frequent interruptions.
- Adapting courses to new software and lab environments.
- Using the internet to deliver information efficiently.
- Coping with student use of student-owned machines.
- Maintaining a congenial and supportive relationship with students, faculty and other staff under all circumstances

A Math ISC may, in a given term, be responsible for supporting anywhere from

- one course having 1200 students, 14 sections, 10 instructors, 13 graduate teaching assistants and 57 undergraduate teaching assistants

to

- half a dozen courses of fewer than 100 students, one instructor and one teaching assistant each.

There are four computing labs, two of which contain MS Windows (Nexus) machines (30 and 32 seats) and two of which contain thin client terminals that access Unix and MS Windows Terminal Servers (30 and 34 seats).

There are eleven people in the Math Faculty Computing Facility, with whom Math ISC staff will have regular need to consult.

These positions have the following objectives.

- To leverage the time and expertise of faculty in teaching and evolving our Math courses.
- To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Math courses by the appropriate use of technology.