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MESIG: Mathematical Educational Software Interest Group

Friday, 11th December, 2020

8:45 am - 4:00 pm

Venue: online using Zoom

Theme: "Exploring the new educational/mathematical spaces that we create with software tools"



You can now download a PDF of the programme. Zoom details have been emailed to participants. Please note the inclusion of the awards for the first annual Universities' Maths/Art Poster Competition at 12:00!


You can register on this Google Form.

This workshop is part of CARMA's Special Year on Mathematical Communication.

About the workshop

MESIG (Mathematical Educational Software Interest Group) grew out of a suggestion from the late, wonderful, Leon Poladian: Leon was interested in us developing a community of practice around software tools for teaching mathematics. The first MESIG annual meeting was held at the CARMA centre at the University of Newcastle, in 2015, organised by Judy-anne Osborn and Matt Skerritt. Workshops have been held in different locations across the country every year since. Each year at the workshop, we decide where the next one will be held. MESIG provides a forum for discussion of the interaction between our teaching goals and the software tools available to us. This topic has become all the more pertinent in present times. In 2020 MESIG will run online for the first time, hosted from the University of Newcastle. We look forward to welcoming new participants. Previous MESIG meetings are listed on the MESIG page.

The year MESIG will include a special session on the AMSI ACE Program. Lecturers within the program are warmly invited to contribute talks about their experiences teaching in the program. These talks do not need to be very formal - this is a sharing of practice and experience of peers.

This year MESIG will also feature the awards of the first annual Universities' Maths/Art Poster Competition hosted by CARMA.


MESIG will be followed by FYIMaths Wednesday 16th December organised by Sharon Stephen (sharon.stephen@sydney.edu.au).


You can register on this Google Form.


The workshop will be held at online using Zoom, details to follow.


PDF icon Download the programme [updated 10 December]


09:00-10:00Keynote by Chris Sangwin, "Assessing students' proofs online"
12:00-12:30Maths Art/Poster Awards
14:40-15:40ACE Special session talks and discussion
15:40-16:00Next year’s MESIG brainstorm

Talk Titles and Abstracts:

Keynote Talk

Assessing students' proofs online

Chris Sangwin

In this seminar I will describe how we, at the University of Edinburgh, have tried to help students learn proof through online assessment. This is ongoing work, driven by a practical need and constrained by current technology which cannot automatically assess students' free form proof. The seminar will discuss the nature of elementary proof more generally.

Teaching proof techniques in ONLINE setting

Usha Sridhar (University of Technology, Sydney)

In the world of proofs for mathematical theorems, it is a challenge to teach the student to appreciate the construction or at least testing procedures for rigorous mathematical proofs. My experience with the ONLINE teaching of first year maths students has surprisingly shown some ways to connect to students better through igniting their interest to use ‘shared’ resources to try some proof construction as a ‘game’ technique. Suitable logic is followed which helped the meta language as well.

DEFT (Developing Expertise Fostering Thinking) - an online community of practice

Jo-ann Larkins (Federation University) and Joel Black

A story of a researcher and beginning teachers in the UK using GeoGebra to understand geometry

Peter Awortwe

This study aims to understand how the researcher and the beginning teachers developed appropriate mathematical knowledge around circles for teaching geometric constructions using dynamic software (GeoGebra). This work was remote because of covid-19. The research question that I focus on in this talk is "How might carefully designed exploratory tasks support beginning teachers and the researcher to develop appropriate mathematical knowledge for teaching?"

GeoGebra Classroom: A virtual platform for remote learning to foster active engagement

Carlos Ponce Campuzano (The University of Queensland)

GeoGebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that brings together geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package. In response to the global pandemic the GeoGebra Team released, in June 2020, the virtual platform GeoGebra Classroom in which teachers can assign interactive and engaging tasks for students, view live updated progress of students working on a specific task, facilitate rich, interactive discussions among all students, groups of students, and individual students. In this talk, I will demonstrate how to create a virtual mathematics class in GeoGebra Classroom for remote learning.

Gradescope in the scope: experiences marking assignments and exams in large subjects with Gradescope

Anthony Morphett (The University of Melbourne)

Gradescope is an online marking tool designed with large STEM subjects in mind. It is owned by Turnitin. We have been using Gradescope for submitting and marking assignments and exams in most of our mathematics and statistics subjects in 2020, including large undergraduate subjects. We chose it after evaluating its suitability for online exams as necessitated by COVID-19. This presentation will include a brief demo of Gradescope and discuss some of its strengths and weaknesses that we encountered during our extensive use of it in 2020.

Source Code Plagarism Detection

Yuqing Lin (The University of Newcastle)

Creating online question pools using SageMath

Florian Breuer (The University of Newcastle)

I will introduce the Sage Quiz Developer Squid), a system to create random variants of mathematics quiz questions for online systems such as Blackboard.

MathAssess - a system for creating and delivering formative mathematical assessments

Dmitry Demskoy (Charles Sturt University)

We describe a new system for creating and delivering formative mathematical assessments (MathAssess). MathAssess is a free and extensible system which allows teachers to write questions and conduct marking using the Maple language.

MathAssess is a system with separate question design and answer collection: the processes of editing individual questions, their assembly into an assessment, and marking is completed on instructor’s computer using computer algebra (Maple). Assessment questions are written using a combination of html/LaTeX/Maple code. Completion and submission of an assessment is done online on MathAssess website. All submitted answers are stored in an online database. MathAssess may be set up so that students can come back and see/modify submitted tests as long as it is done before assessment’s due date/time.

Creating sculptural forms using 3D Bézier curves

Jim Pettigrew

The ACE Program

Judy-anne Osborn (The University of Newcastle)

I will describe some of the history and practice and potential as I see it, of the AMSI ACE Program, which facilitates national shared online Honours and Masters Mathematics courses in Mathematics.

Optimisation for deep learning: sharing our experience

Nadia Sukhorukova (Swinburne)

In this presentation we will talk about our motivation to run this unit and share our experience.

Teaching epidemic theory during a pandemic

Stephen Davis (RMIT University)

I describe my experiences teaching ACE Mathematical Biology in 2020 with a focus on epidemic theory and mathematical models of infectious disease spread. I talk about the difficulty in letting go of the traditional lecture mode of delivery and switching to a more student centric model. I discuss my frustrations with engaging students in an online classroom, and the way in which online tutorial sessions evolved to become more personal, more comfortable and ultimately more satisfying.

Reflections on the importance of ACE to small Universities

Nicola Armstrong

Organising Committee

  • Judy-anne Osborn (Judy-anne.Osborn@newcastle.edu.au) — Chair
  • Jim Pettigrew (J.Pettigrew@westernsydney.edu.au)
  • Donald Shearman (D.Shearman@westernsydney.edu.au)