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Math 103: Intermediate Algebra

Instructor: Dr. Irina Roderick
Phone(415) 485 9522 ext. 7522, SMN 336
Email: irina.roderick@marin.edu

Welcome to Math 115 Web class. Please familiarize yourself with the information provided below.

I REQUIRE you to take a tour of the ALEKS classroom before you formally register with Aleks and start work. You can do this at http://www.aleks.com/highered/math/tour. Make the best decision for yourself based on the information obtained through this tour. Familiarizing yourself with the ways in which Aleks operates will help you decide whether this is the right class for you before the semester begins. Some students perform well in this environment while others do better in a self-pace Math Lab class or a regular lecture section.

You can also preview the Students’ User Guide online at http://www.aleks.com/user_guides/learners-he

The College of Marin's Information Technology group oversees the servers and software that run and support some aspects of this course. They can be contacted by e-mail (see below) or at (415) 883-2211 x8181.

Any technical difficulties associated with the ALEKS® web site can be answered through their web site at this location.

The frequently-asked-question page is: http://www.aleks.com/faqs

The customer support line is at (714) 619-7090.

What I need from you to get you started

Before the first day of classes, send me an email containing the following:

  1. The e-mail address you will use for this course (one address per student), and the name with which you registered at COM.
  2. An acknowledgment that you have read the information and rules for the course, including the grading policy, as outlined below. A simple statement such as “I have read and understand the rules of the course. I took the tour of Aleks.” will suffice.

Once I have this information I will reply to let you know I received it. On the first day of classes, I will send you the course code so you can register for the Aleks program (see below).

IMPORTANT:
You MUST be registered with Aleks and have initial assessment completed by Friday of the first week of class, or I will drop you from the class for non-participation

What You Need to Get Started

  1. A computer and an access to the Internet. The College of Marin's Information Technology group oversees the servers and software that run and support some aspects of this course. They can be contacted by e-mail (see below) or at 415-883-2211 x8181. Any technical difficulties associated with the ALEKS® web site need to be addressed to their web site at this location.
  2. Textbook:Any  Intermediate Algebra text as a reference—older used editions can be purchased at Amazon and elsewhere pretty cheaply.  The current edition (expensive) for sale at the Campus Bookstore is Bittinger/Ellenbogen, Intermediate Algebra, 8th edition, by Addison Wesley. There are plenty of old editions and similar books on hold in the Math Lab (SC 115).
  3. Supplemental Materials: There are numerous supplemental materials for the above text and for the course in general. These are all optional and you can decide which, if any, you wish to acquire. Information about what is available can be found on the Math Max web site. It is important in any distance learning course that students do not become isolated and also have numerous resources available to them. Once I have this information I will reply to let you know I received it. On the first day of classes, I will send you the course code so you can register for the Aleks program (see below).

New Textbook Options for Students:
In addition to new and used copies of our textbooks that have always been available to students, the COM bookstore is now offering two new options:

Textbook Rental program:
In this case students pay upfront about half the price of a new textbook and must give the bookstore a credit card number that is valid at least a month past the end of the semester. If they do NOT return the book, the bookstore will charge the difference plus a service fee.

How are textbooks selected for the rental program?
Book orders need to be in well in advance of the start of the semester.

The book must be eligible. For example, workbooks would not be eligible as students write in them. Old editions that are about to be updated, would not be eligible.

How will you know if your textbook is available with these options?
The most direct way is to visit the students' "buy textbooks online" webpage and enter the semester and your course. You can also go to whywaitforbooks.com where you enter your state, select College of Marin. This gets you to the same place. Information on your textbooks is frequently updated as more options become available

How to Register

Register by going to the ALEKS website for higher education and clicking on “Register with ALEKS”. In order to register, you must have the Access Code and the Course Code. The Access Code is found in the User's Guide for ALEKS which you must purchase. Look for the code inside the back cover (no code contained in the online version). The College of Marin Book Store has this available with the Access Code, as may other online textbook sites.( More information on textbook options at the end of the Syllabus.)

The registration process is described in User's Guide for ALEKS (App. A). There are complete online instructions for every step of this simple procedure. You will be asked to supply your e-mail address and Student ID number. Please note: the system cannot detect mistyping, be extra careful in inputting this information. Each student will receive a Login Name and a Password. Please record them and keep in a safe place.

On the first day of classes, I will email you a 10-character Course Code (provided you have reached me with acknowledgment mentioned above). Do not try to proceed with a purchase before I have given you that code!

You are taking an 18-week course and therefore will need an 18-week subscription to the Aleks Online Learning System. This can be purchased at the following link: http://www.aleks.com/sign_up/mhhe

This will open a window asking for the 10-character course code mentioned above. Paste in the course code and hit the "continue" button on the screen. Next, the window will identify the course as Math 101, and me (Dr. I. Roderick) as your instructor. Hit continue again. The next window asks for a 20-character access code: you don't have this yet, you have to buy it! Notice on this page the link "purchase an access code online." Select this, and a small window will open offering 4 options: select the first option, "Higher-Ed 1-semester (18 weeks)." The next window asks for your email address, and tells you the price of the subscription. Follow the instructions for completing the purchase. Having obtained the Aleks access code, register; then clock on your subscription starts ticking at this point. Since the subscription and our class both last for 18 weeks, it is important not to log in before the weekend prior to term, or your subscription would run out before the end of term. That is why I put off giving you the Course Code until the weekend prior to the beginning of term. You can also order by phone directly from Aleks at 714 619 7095.

Attention waitlisted students! To add to this class you will need to receive an Add Code from me. I will supply it to you after the first day of classes. You will then drop the class and register again using the Add Code. There will be no add-ons if the class has a waiting list and you are not on it.

Course Work

The majority of learning for this class takes place in ALEKS. Most parts of this class are self-paced, but must be completed within the time frame of the current single semester. Everyone starts on the first day and everyone will be graded on the work they have completed by the last day of instruction in the semester. It is possible to finish the course before the end of the semester, but you may not extend beyond this semester (12:00 p.m. of the last day of classes; check the catalog for date). Within the semester students have the opportunity to move through the topics in an order of their choosing (mostly), although this may be restricted if one concept has another as a prerequisite. In spite of the fact that you will work on the material at you own pace, you should be aware that there are built-in accountability measures and deadlines to ensure your steady progress in this class. Taking a break and then cramming is not an option. You are required to put in time and effort on a regular basis.

No incompletes will be issued in this class. Please read this sentence again. Feel the absoluteness of this statement. See More on Aleks, below, for information about the online assessments.

A word about budgeting your time: there are 18 weeks in the term: so each week you should try to get through approximately 6 to 7% of the topics. But don't be lulled into complacency if it seems easy at first--the tough stuff will come at the end! Expect to put in 15-30 hours per week--that's comparable to an on-campus course. There is nothing particularly easy about this course, and you have to be disciplined about your time.

Your tests called assessments will occur based on when you have completed a certain amount of material corresponding to your selected topics, and this could be at different times for each and every student, except for scheduled assessments with a deadline (see course calendar) and an on-campus Final exam. Photo ID is required to take the Final exam. More information will be sent to students once they have successfully enrolled in the course.

The ALEKS system makes the determination of when you are ready to be assessed. Assessment happens at different times for each student.

Here is how it is described in the User's Guide:

The ALEKS assessment uses open-ended problems (no multiple choice). It is an adaptive assessment; that is, problem types are selected based on all the previous answers the student has given. It is impossible to predict which types of problems will appear, or in what order. Moreover, the problems themselves are generated algorithmically, with randomly selected numerical values. ... There is no reason for a student who has begun using ALEKS to cheat on a "progress" assessment, as this will simply cause the system to suggest problems that are too difficult, and thus hinder the student's own work.

This course involves considerable reading and writing. The ability to clearly communicate your ideas in a well-constructed, written form is essential to success in this class. In addition, how much time you will need to spend on the material will also vary with your abilities. Assuming you have had no previous algebra course, you should expect to spend 10-15 hours per week (just like an on campus class) with the materials.

Using Aleks

To repeat, I will send you your ALEKS Course Code on the weekend prior to classes, provided I have received your acknowledgment of the course rules. With this Course Code, you purchase a subscription and Student Access Code online, and register at the ALEKS web site. You do this at: http://www.aleks.com/sign_up. Once you have registered with Aleks, you will log into the virtual classroom all other times at http://www.aleks.com

To use the classroom you need a Java enabled browser—this is probably not a problem—all versions from 3.x or later of Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, AOL and Safari have this capability—but you may need to check that Java is enabled in your preference settings. When you first start to use the program, you will be asked to download a plugin for the ALEKS classroom. This plugin will not affect your computer in any harmful way. More than 95% of the students are able to use ALEKS after installing the plugin. But make sure you can access the site before committing to the course.

ALEKS will sometimes generate a worksheet for you to practice on--these are not official assignments, and you do not turn them in.

Testing, or "assessment" as it is called in ALEKS, happens at different times for each student. It occurs at intervals determined by your progress and the ALEKS program. Usually, you are assessed upon completion of about 20 topics, but that’s just a rough estimate. Here is how it is described in the User's Guide:

The ALEKS assessment uses open-ended problems (no multiple choice). It is an adaptive assessment; that is, problem types are selected based on all the previous answers the student has given. It is impossible to predict which types of problems will appear, or in what order. Moreover, the problems themselves are generated algorithmically, with randomly selected numerical values. ... There is no reason for a student who has begun using ALEKS to cheat on a "progress" assessment, as this will simply cause the system to suggest problems that are too difficult, and thus hinder the student's own work.

If you do not sign into the ALEKS classroom on a regular basis, the system may check to see if you remember your “old” work. That means you may have to demonstrate a quick understanding of the material on which you’ve already been assessed. If you can’t do it, the program will require to review and redo some of the old topics. So work regularly in the virtual classroom and avoid large time lapses.
The assessments do not allow for typing mistakes—so read and type carefully.

When you first log into ALEKS you will be given a readiness assessment. This assesses what you know and do not know. Anything that you might be expected to know already but don’t, ALEKS will help you to remember. Likewise, any topics from the course that you already know, ALEKS will not require you to do! ALEKS is always looking to see what you remember from before and what you might know about future topics. This sort of probing assures you that the material is presented to you in the best sequence for your successful learning: the program tailors itself to your specific needs. Be advised that although the online assessments are open note and open book, NO ONE MAY HELP YOU in any way. Any instance of cheating will result in dismissal from the class with a failing grade.

Please be aware that all materials for the course are copyrighted, and are for your personal use only while enrolled in the course, and may not be duplicated, distributed, or reproduced without consent of the authors.

Keys to Success

This course offers substantial flexibility, but it requires a disciplined and responsible approach. Students lacking adequate math skills or discipline tend to do poorly in it. If you realize that the format of this class is not beneficial for you, please drop the class as soon as possible. You can do so online at http://mycom.marin.edu

Though there are no mandatory class meetings, you are expected to check your email frequently (at least twice a week) respond to all email messages from the instructor indicating that your response is required. Ask any questions that you may have, using the contact info above. I check my messages regularly and I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to see me in person in my office to get help. Tutoring is available at the Tutoring Center and the Math Lab (SC 115).

Instructor: Dr. Irina Roderick
Phone(415) 485 9522 ext. 7522,
Science, Math, Nursing Building, Room 336
Email: irina.roderick@marin.edu