I am a Purdue Instructor. How can I use Rhea in my class?

Some of the more popular ways of using Rhea as part of a course include:

There are, of course, many other ways for instructors to use Rhea. Here are a few ideas:

  • Rhea can be used as a discussion forum. Note the possibility to post pictures (e.g., here), display code nicely (e.g., here) and to type equations using Latex (e.g., here). Note also that students from different courses can participate in your class discussion (e.g. here) as well as other instructors too!
  • You can suggest that your students work as a team to type lecture notes. Working as a team allows them to obtain better, more complete notes. Having lecture notes online provides a skeleton on which to add comments, questions, relevant links, etc. It also allows you to see their view of the material, for example catching some mistakes or misconceptions. An alternative to typing lecture notes is to set up a page where students can offer to trade notes with each other (e.g., here). But having notes online is really best, as students from all around campus can then view the notes of every course and learn from them. Instructors also find it useful to read other courses notes, for example to find out what their students have learned previously, to compare notation, or to identify material overlap.
  • Invite your students to use Rhea to ask you questions. You can then either answer these questions in class, or directly on Rhea. See for example here. If you answer a question once on Rhea, you won't have to answer it several times during office hours!
  • You can encourage students to use Rhea to discuss the homework (e.g. here).
  • Rhea can be used to post your homework, just like you would do on a normal webpage. However, the advantage with Rhea is that, if you got the date wrong, or if there seems to be an issue with a questions, students can quickly add a comment to the homework page, and the instructor can then add a clarification/correction immediately.
  • Students can write pages that summarize the material they learned "in their own words". This can be part of an official student-led recitation system, or simply encouraged with bonus points.
  • Individual students can write pages summarizing relevant background material. This can be a part of the homework or simply encouraged with bonus points.
  • Individual students can write pages of practice exercises for certain computations/concepts along with their answers. The rest of the class can then use the discussion page to point out mistakes, ask questions, etc.
  • Student teams or individual students can type course related questions/comments. For example, they may have two solutions with two different answers for a given homework problem, and want to know which one is correct, or they may get to a different answer that what is given in the solutions and may want to know if their answer is correct. Ways to "go from my answer to the books answer" can be shared.
  • A formal double-blind peer review system can be set up through Rhea. This is particularly useful in project-based courses and graduate courses.
  • Students can write pages that compare different solutions to a problem.
  • Students can list and discuss some "common mistakes" to a given type of problem.
  • Students can propose numerical methods (e.g. Matlab code) to check their answers. You would be surprised what kind of tricks they can come up with!
  • Students can share code and data sets.
  • Students can build a table of useful formulas or share mathematical "tricks".
  • Students can work in groups to write solutions of the midterm after the midterm has been graded and handed back.
  • Before a midterm, students can post their solution to some old exam, and the instructor can grade these solutions for everybody's benefit.
  • When handing back a midterm containing a question that was not successfully answered by the majority of the students, ask the students to post their solutions and discuss them, then ask that question again in a quiz or on the final exam.
  • Invite your own students to suggest new ways to use Rhea in your classroom.

Why should I use Rhea instead of my own wiki?

There are many reasons. Here are a few.

  • Because Rhea is student-drivenTM, it has features that the students want but standard wikis often do not have. For example, one can type equations in latex and display code nicely.
  • Rhea is developed by a team of Purdue students: by using Rhea, you are supporting their project and encouraging them to continue.
  • Learning to use a new online resource takes time; using the same online learning tool in every class is more efficient.
  • Content contributed to Rhea benefits the whole Purdue population, instead of just one class for one semester. This enables students to learn from (and participate in!) every class featured in Rhea. It also enables instructors to know what is happening in other classes.
  • Rhea's content is kept from semester to semester, so one will always be able to go back and browse through a given course material, or even contribute to it at some future time.

Should I reward the students for contributing to the course wiki?

Rewarding the students with either bonus points or homework points is a good way to stimulate contributions and make Rhea quickly gain momentum in your class. But whether or not this is necessary is debatable. Some instructors are using a "star feedback" system. But overall, what seems to work best is when the instructor himself/herself is active on Rhea, asking questions, posting discussion topics, challenging the students, etc.

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Ph.D. 2007, working on developing cool imaging technologies for digital cameras, camera phones, and video surveillance cameras.

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