Using Technology in a Differential Equations Course: Lessons Learned Implementing a New Paradigm
Historically, a first course in Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs) has been taught as a “methods course.” Namely, different types of differential equations are trotted out and the method of solution for each class of ODEs is presented. The student is then left to “master the method” by way of lengthy algebraic manipulations, a good dose of differential calculus, and of course, getting all the pieces of the new method done in the right order. All in all, it can be a daunting task for students and it usually does little to pique the interest or curiosity of most students. This is the old paradigm. In an attempt to make the course more interesting and less daunting, a new paradigm was adopted – a paradigm that incorporates technology as a core component of the course, rather than just an “add on.” This article examines various issues related to implementing this new paradigm as well as some lessons learned along the way.