Teaching Mathematics at the University of Chicago

Using Technology - Frequently Asked Questions

What technology is available for me to use?

The mathematics department has recently acquired a laptop computer (IBM thinkpad) and a small portable projector to be used with the laptop. The projector allows the user to project the contents of the computer monitor as seen by the user onto a larger screen. The technology thus enables a teacher of mathematics to show his or her students various pictures, graphs, 3-D images and animations of processes relevant to the material being taught, which are either difficult or impossible to demonstrate using blackboard and chalk.

The largest resource for all such images and animations is the internet. If you are teaching a course in calculus (single or multi-variable), linear algebra, geometry, group theory or any topic in applied mathematics, you are likely to find all your demonstration material on the world-wide-web. However, in case you are looking for a special image or animation, or would like to create the demo yourself, the laptop has been equipped with the latest versions of Mathematica and Matlab. These are powerful software which allow you to do non-trivial symbolic and numerical computations with great speed and precision, and create high quality graphical images and animations.

We hope that you will take advantage of this new technology, and that it will facilitate teaching mathematics at the University of Chicago.

Related Links:
Teaching equipment available at the University of Chicago

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Where can I get the equipment from?

The laptop and projector can be signed out by current teachers in the mathematics department from Ms. Judy Garza's office in Eckhart 207B. Since other teachers might possibly want to use the equipment during the same time as you, we would advise reserving the equipment in advance in Ms. Garza's office.

You may also obtain such equipment from the UC Instructional Technology offices. More information regarding this may be found on their website.

If you plan to use the projector in a classroom which does not have a screen, you may need to get a portable screen. Portable screens can be obtained from the storage room across the elevator in the basement of Eckhart Hall, the key for which may be acquired from Ms. Lynette Whalum in Eckhart 207B as well. Please note these screens are rather heavy, and you may need someone's assistance to carry the screen, laptop and projector to the classroom.

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How do I setup the laptop and the projector in the classroom?

To setup the laptop and projector properly, please follow the instructions below in the given order. This is important as any other permutation might result in things not working properly. The entire process should not take more than 5 minutes. However, it is strongly recommended that you do this at least once on your own (in your office if not in the lecture room) so that you do not waste any time getting things to work. We also recommend that if possible you charge the laptop's battery in advance, so that you do not have to worry about placing the laptop close enough to the power outlet.

  1. Pull down/setup screen.
  2. Place projector on a stable surface approximately 10 feet away (further for larger image) from the screen.
  3. Connect the projector to the power outlet (cable A).
  4. Place the computer on a stable surface close to the projector.
  5. Connect the computer's video to the projector (cable B).
  6. (Optional) Connect the computer's mouse to the projector (cable C).
  7. Connect the computer to the Ethernet jack (ethernet cable).
  8. Switch on the projector by pressing the power button on the projector, and remove the lense cover.
  9. Once the projector is on, switch on the computer.
  10. You should now be able to see the computer's image on the screen. Focus the image by rotating the (silver ring) lense of the projector.
  11. You can also increase/decrease the size of the projection by rotating the gray ring immediately behind the silver ring.
  12. (In case computer battery is not charged fully) Connect the computer to the power outlet (cable D, inside the laptop bag).
  13. You are all set to go!
To switch off the projector temporarily during class, simply press the power button on the projector. When you are done, please unplug everything by following the above instructions exactly in reverse order.

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What if I don't teach in Eckhart/Ryerson?

If you do not teach in Eckhart Hall or Ryerson Hall, then chances are that your lecture room will not have an active ethernet connection (most rooms on campus will have an ethernet jack in the wall, but this does not mean that the jack has been activated or is usable). This means that in order for you to present your demo, you will need to download and store locally on the laptop ALL the image and animation files that you are planning to show to your class. For more information on this topic, please refer to the section on "What if there is no Ethernet connection where I teach?" at the top of this page.

While most of the lecture rooms across campus have screens, you might not have one in your lecture room. In this case, we recommend that you simply project the image onto one of the walls in your lecture room. This usually works quite well, and will be a better substitute to lugging the portable screen from the basement of Eckhart Hall to your classroom.

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What if there is no Ethernet connection where I teach?/ Is is possible to store applets on the laptop?

If there is no ethernet connection in your lecture room or if an image or animation takes too long to load, you may wish to download and store locally on the laptop the image and animation files that you are planning to show to your class. You will have to do this in your office or at some other location where you may connect the laptop via the ethernet cable to an active ethernet jack.

Once you have connected the computer to an active ethernet jack, switch the computer on. Start up an internet browser and load the webpage which has the relevant graphic/animation which you wish to use. Once the page has been fully loaded, click on "File" and then "Save As..." in your browser window. Your browser should now ask you where you wish to save this webpage. Click on the "Store Webpages HERE" folder. Type in an appropriate filename (or type nothing if you like the file name being shown) and click on "Save". Repeat with all webpages which you wish to use in your demo.

While most webpages can be stored locally on the laptop, you might encounter some which will not allow you to store the page locally on the laptop. You will not be able to use such webpages for your demo in a room without an active ethernet connection. Finally, once the computer has been disconnected from the ethernet jack, double-click on the "Store Webpages HERE" folder icon on the desktop to open it. Now open the webpage you saved by double-clicking on the appropriate icon. Again, we recommend that you check that the webpage works after the computer is no longer connected to the ethernet before your lecture.

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How does one use the projector's remote control?

This section is still being written. Please check back later.

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This section is still being written. Please check back later.

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I have questions!!!

If you need further assistance or have any specific questions, please email teaching@math.uchicago.edu. You will receive a response from us as soon as possible.

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