Communicating Mathematics Across the Curriculum
Mathcad provides many different solutions for college faculty and students to tackle maths-related, technical course work. Mathcad functions as a:
- Demonstration tool
- Student maths homework and lab report environment
- Medium for delivery of online maths
- Research and publication platform
Mathcad’s broad applicability in higher education is due to its live document interface, ease of use, Web interoperability and rich feature set. Mathcad has always been known for providing great functionality in a user-friendly package for less money than the competitors. Less well known are those capabilities that set Mathcad apart from other math software – its broad applicability across disciplines, its support of eLearning, the depth of its features for high-end calculations and data handling and its pervasiveness among professionals in technical fields, particularly engineering. Each section below explores how Mathcad addresses a specific need in the teaching and learning of maths-related discplines in college.
Mathcad as Demonstration Tool
One of the most effective ways to use Mathcad in your courses is as a demonstration tool during lecture, homework recitation, lab time, or office hours. Mathcad can help you demonstrate concepts using real math notation, integrated text and graphs. Then, you can manipulate variables, call functions, perform symbolic operations and create animations to extend beyond the static material.
Here are some ways you can use Mathcad as a demonstration tool:
- Create templates for solving typical problems, models for exploring concepts dynamically, animations for demonstrating ideas visually and complete documents for presenting topics formally.
- Show students how to work through problems as you would using a graphing calculator or spreadsheet application. Mathcad combines the best of both these tools and adds interoperability with other applications, a document interface, and support for Web-based deployment.
- Demonstrate ideas without giving away the solution using hidden, passworded regions.
- Automate calculations to check results using controls and programming.
- Generate notes, templates, models, assignments, and solution sets for your students to review, annotate, and use when completing their own work. In addition to its live, native format, Mathcad worksheets can be saved to PDF, RTF, HTML, and HTML with MathML.
With static tools, if you want to demonstrate a dynamic idea, you must use graduated diagrams or a series of calculations or try to let the audience imagine what happens if a variable or condition changes. You can enliven, enrich and ultimately improve those presentations using Mathcad.
Mathcad as Student Maths Tool
It’s hard to imagine simply using Mathcad as a calculator. But, in fact, it contains all the tools of a graphing calculator and much more. From simple calculations to data analysis and differential equations, Mathcad is a one-stop shop in terms of numeric and symbolic computation, graphing, and simulation. Here is a brief review of the calculation features available in Mathcad:
- numeric evaluation of expressions up to 15 decimal places
- numeric evaluation of expressions in various formats, including fraction and scientific
- algebraic evaluation of expressions
- numeric and symbolic equation solving
- 2D and 3D graphing with numerous plot types in each
- built-in units and automatic unit conversion
- unlimited user-defined variables and functions
- wide array of built-in variables and functions
- full range of vector and matrix functionality, including image and waveform processing
- data import, export and analysis tools
- calculus tools
- differential equation solvers
- full range of statistics and probability functions
- animation of any variable-dependent region
- programming functionality
- built-in interoperabiity with Excel, SmartSketch, MATLAB, and Vissim
- generic ActiveX/COM object support through the Scriptable Object component
Beyond its extensive calculation and visualisation capabilities, Mathcad can also help students present their work in a coherent and complete fashion. Once students have gained a certain degree of mastery over performing calculations in Mathcad, they will be ready to think about the presentation of their work. Mathcad provides all the document tools students need to create beautiful papers that capture their calculations and explanations in one place.
Mathcad as Medium for Delivery of Online Maths
Mathcad provides many ways to deliver course materials online, in live or static format, for Mathcad users and non-users, alike. Here are some ways Mathcad serves as a medium for Web-based delivery of maths content:
- View as static pages — no Mathcad required.
- View as interactive pages — using Mathcad.
- Edit right in the browser — using Mathcad.
- All members of the community can view your materials.
Mathcad as Research and Publication Platform
As over 1 million technical professionals worldwide can tell you, Mathcad is a professional grade calculation and visualisation tool. For investigation and verification, Mathcad allows you to collect pertinent information in one or more worksheets and present a coherent picture of the state of your research. In preparation for publication, Mathcad provides a suite of document tools that allow you to fully customise the format of your papers for submission. Whether you are analysing data, demonstrating theoretical constructs, performing calculations, or running simulations, Mathcad is a robust platform for all your professional technical work.