Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Back to Technology

Matrix, Communication, Software, Pc  I'm due to teach matrices later this semester in late April, early may.  I wanted a slight different way to teach the topic instead of just using a lecture and lots of written work.

I discovered you can do matrices using the Excel spread sheet.  I didn't know that because when I did matrices, students still were required to do them by hand rather than use the calculator.   I think that it took a while to enter data and you could do it as fast or faster by hand.

I was thrilled to find a lovely power point presentation from Nuffield College in the UK that I was able to download and its perfect to use as an introduction for using Excel to solve matrices.  It actually gives the commands you need to work the math in Excel.   In addition, it takes you through the steps to create the matrix, do addition, subtraction, scalar multiplication, transpose, multiplication, find the inverse and the determinant.  If you do a web search, look for Matrix Commands in Excel and Nuffield College.  It should pop up.

This pdf file has wonderful step by step directions with illustrations for using Excel 2007 to do matrices.  It covers everything the previous power point covers but  goes one step further.  It gives instructions on using inverse matrices to solve systems of linear equations.  This file could easily be printed out and given to students so they can work their way through each topic.  I love the way it has illustrations so a student can compare their work with the pictures to see if they are doing it correctly.

Once the students have mastered working with matrices in Excel, they are ready to actually do some problems.  I think I would assign work throughout the process of learning Excel so it correlated to the matrix material being taught. I think that would help them learn the process better. 

So know I have an idea of how I'll teach this topic later in the year.