How Johnston Community College increased Maple usage on campus and beyond - Maplesoft

User Case Study:
How Johnston Community College increased Maple usage on campus and beyond

Lance Gooden, Department Chair at Johnston Community College in North Carolina, wanted to enhance math teaching and improve student learning with their Maple site license. The challenge, as with any new software implementation, was how to get vital faculty buy-in and grow usage from scratch.

With the help of the Maplesoft Client Success Team, Gooden built enthusiasm for Maple and increased the confidence and comfort level of new users with an ongoing series of onsite and remote training opportunities for faculty and students on campus and beyond.

The training gave math faculty and students more confidence about using Maple in-and outside the classroom. As well as encouraging widespread adoption within his own department - Maple is now used across all 200-Level Math Courses at the College - Gooden also succeeded in promoting Maple usage in math faculties at 17 other community colleges all over the state.

Lance Gooden is Department Chair of Mathematics and Engineering at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, North Carolina. He was first introduced to Maple over 10 years ago by his predecessor who told him, “You gotta keep using this!” Since then, he has devoted a lot of time to using Maple in his classes, from precalculus all the way through to Calculus 3, and he believes it has enhanced his teaching tremendously. Spurred on by this, he wanted to share his success with his faculty and inspire them to use Maple too. And so, he embarked on a project to expand Maple usage, not just in his own department but further afield to math faculties at other North Carolina colleges. Gooden shared this story at the Maple Conference in 2019 and you can watch his full presentation below.

Implementing technology like Maple into the classroom often requires a substantial change process, one that effectively alters the operating methods of the faculty and rebuilds underlying values and cultures. Gooden learned by experience that he could not increase Maple integration on his own, so he enlisted the help of Maplesoft’s Client Success Team and his highly motivated, passionate, and knowledgeable faculty.

Gooden believes, “Transformational teaching and learning in the 21st century classroom using technology like Maple begins with the instructor. It is not enough to simply provide the software or leave Maple in the hands of the students. To grow usage, you have to proactively inspire faculty members, get them excited about the software and get them using it in their lessons so the students can follow their lead.”

Early into the project, he quickly realized that to begin to improve learning and expand Maple usage, he would need to first increase the confidence and comfort for novice users. This would help to overcome any reservations that new faculty users may have when faced with the prospect of adopting new technology. Gooden knew that high-quality professional development held the key to minimizing apprehension, engaging instructors, enhancing their technical know-how, and easing Maple’s integration.

To that end, Gooden first set up a series of peer-to-peer training workshops for his colleagues to show them what Maple could do and demonstrate how it had enhanced his own teaching. Next, with Maplesoft’s help, a series of hour-long professional training sessions were scheduled for faculty state-wide over two months during the Fall semester. The training was delivered remotely via Zoom or in meeting rooms with a large central display and individual access to Maple on a laptop or personal device, so all trainees could get hands-on with the software. Over the course of the semester, as many as 17 North Carolina community colleges participated in the training with people joining from home or from similar room set-ups on their own campuses.  After each session, recordings and Maple files were made available to the entire math faculty and stored in the college’s learning management system (Blackboard) for future reference. Courses aimed to help faculty become familiar with the Maple interface as well as cover specific math topics such as Calculus 1 to 3, linear algebra, and differential equations.

With Maple in the hands of motivated and skilled faculty, teaching mathematics can be transformational.”

Following these training sessions, Gooden observed that faculty were more confident about using Maple and more effective at troubleshooting in the classroom. Instructors were also able to analyze the improvement in students’ conceptual understanding through formative assessments issued each semester. At the same time, student confidence grew – both in their own software abilities and those of the teachers.

Gooden maintains, “The support from Maplesoft has been truly phenomenal. They did an exceptional job with coordinating and conducting the whole training effort. The professional development was well received, and our instructors were extremely impressed by the support that was available.”

Gooden goes on to explain, “Training is still ongoing, so in addition to the support from Maplesoft, faculty now schedules 30-minute bootcamps delivered via Zoom at the beginning of each semester. These tutorials are designed to help students become familiar with the Maple environment and teach them the fundamental concepts and tools they need to become productive quickly. Further bootcamp sessions are scheduled throughout the semester. Delivered by a Maple expert, faculty can use these sessions to cover topics they might not be comfortable in teaching using the software. The faculty team also gets the chance to ask Maplesoft support staff content-specific questions during Zoom follow-ups and Q&As, which support the teaching of various disciplines.”

Thanks to this support and training, faculty and students are now also more confident about using some of the other tools and resources that Maplesoft provide.  This includes MaplePrimes, which they use to connect across the globe and pose questions to expert Maple users who are always quick to respond. Instructors can then use what they discover to enhance their teaching in the classroom.

Since the bootcamps, students have also started using the Maple Calculator app to bring the math they are shown in class straight into Maple. They simply take a screenshot of the problem and then use the app to interact with it, or send it through the MapleCloud and pull it down into Maple so they can solve, visualize and explore the math. This has helped to save them no end of time and frustration, as well as minimize transcription errors.

As a result of Gooden and his team’s ongoing efforts, Maple proficiency and usage has increased, not just in the math department at their own campus, but in 17 other colleges across the state. At Johnston Community College Maple is now used across all 200-Level Math Courses - Calculus I through Differential Equations - including the laboratory portions of the syllabus.

Gooden wholeheartedly believes that, “With Maple in the hands of motivated and skilled faculty, teaching mathematics can be transformational.”


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