Usage of Python in Differential Equations
This paper is a chronological record of the transition from the usage of wxMaxima, a downloadable computer algebra system used in previous iterations of the course to assist students with the computation of differential equations, to Google Colaboratory, a more user-friendly website that uses python-based coding to achieve the same results as wxMaxima, for the Ordinary Differential Equations: Analytical Geometric, Symbolic and Numerical Methods course at Kalamazoo College. I will be referring to Google Colaboratory as “Colab” for simplicity’s sake. This change tackled some of the previous problems that wxMaxima encountered; unlike Maxima, Colab did not require the student to make any downloads and/or changes to their computer, Colab allowed a notebook-like format for all assignments easily accessible in a folder in the user’s Google Drive, Colab updates itself, guaranteeing that all students work on the latest version, and, most importantly, the interface is exactly the same in IOS and Windows. This paper will include the early planning stages for the course, the creation of content, the experience while providing educational content to students (this includes Teaching Assistant tutoring sessions as well as some tutorial videos), the feedback from the students, and areas of improvement to note of.
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