University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 6143-6149
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Sage Mathematics [5] a free open-source mathematics software system that uses Python language in a way that is more suitable to describe procedures of mathematical content. Inspired by this system the authors present MEGUA, a package for Sage, that helps the authoring of parametrized exercises databases written on LaTeX and Python/Sage. Currently, the main aim of this project is to improve the environment for producing exercises, enhance library functions and the way exercies are exported to other systems, rather than propose mechanisms of interaction with students other than multiple choice questions.

Other systems for making parameterized questions exists using Maxima (for example [1]) and for the R language (for example [2]).

In this talk we present a view over MEGUA package [3,4] for Sage Mathematics. Sage is a free open-source mathematics software system using Python language, a well established language with an extensive library for all standard domains of computation. Part of Python language was prepared in a more suitable way to describe procedures of mathematical content [7].

Package MEGUA provides an easy tool for authoring parametrized mathematical exercises and their detailed answers as well as keeping them organized in personal databases. Sharing of material with colleagues is inherited from Sage Mathematics Notebooks.

Mathematics teachers interested in software and distance learning usually know LaTeX, so, exercises could be written on this language without any further learning. Basic Python is easy to use and there is a detailed help reference system as well as good tutorials (see for example [6]).

Our main motivation for developing this software is to have a digital database for exercises because students at University of Aveiro learn and are being evaluated mainly by doing handwritten exercises. Due to the dynamics of a mathematics departament, mathematical exercises are produced to the curricula of each course but the opposite also happens: exercises are removed for many reasons. New exercises are requested, changing old and deleting some others are common tasks. These exercises are usually stored on individual computers on folders and files with dates.
Sharing is difficult and usually exercises are forgotten.

In a line, this package is used as a tool to organize databases of mathematics parametrized exercises suitable for sharing, reusing, and epxorting to other systems (in progress).

[1] Webwork system.
[2] Achim Zeileis, Nikolaus Umlauf, Friedrich Leisch. Flexible Generation of E-Learning Exams in R:Moodle Quizzes, OLAT Assessments, and Beyond.
[3] Pedro Cruz, Paula Oliveira, Dina Seabra. Exercise templates with Sage Math. Tbilisi Mathematical Journal, 5(2), p 37-44, 2012.
[4] MEGUA package code.
[5] William A. Stein et al. Sage Mathematics Software (Version 5.8), The Sage Development Team, 2012,
[6] Tutorials for Python.
[7] Sage Mathematics. Preparsing in Sage Mathematics.
Sage Mathematics, Mathematics, Parametrized Exercises.