Using UF Apps
As an undergraduate at UF, I had to take MAS3114 Linear Algebra. The course description for this course is “Linear equations, matrices and determinants. Vector spaces and linear transformations. Inner products and eigenvalues. Emphasizes computational aspects of linear algebra.”
What the course description doesn’t say is that this course is project based, and that students must use the MATLAB software package to complete their projects. In the late 90s, accessing this software meant a trip to the CSE building on campus to hunt for a computer in the CIRCA lab, on which the software was installed. Then, depending on the level of procrastination involved, you may be left with a limited amount of time to complete the assignment before you had to rush to save it to a disk and run to class.
MAS3114 is still being taught at UF, and continues to be project based. Students are still required to use MATLAB (and still procrastinate), but the days of waiting for computer time are over. Over the past 20 years, UF has invested time and resources into improving the lab space and software options available to UF students both on campus and off. There are still a variety of labs available on campus, and now students can access most software at home through UFApps.
Spawned from a one-year pilot project funded by the Student Tech Fee, UFApps has grown into a full production UFIT service for all UF students (both traditional and UF Online). As stated on their website, “UF Apps provides access to software applications from any computing device –laptops, tablets, desktops, and smartphones– from any location, at any time.”
While the benefits to students might be obvious, there are benefits for UF faculty as well. Software can be required for assignments because all students have access to the software, and it’s not necessary to reserve class time for lab use. Alternately, students can be asked to bring their computers to the classroom to use the software in class. It’s also possible to request a shared class space on the UFApps R: drive where students can save their work into folders that are private (other students cannot see their work), but which the course instructor and graders can see. This can ease file-storage and submission issues within a learning management system.
For more information on incorporating UFApps into your course, check out the list of available software on the UF Apps page. If you’d like to use UFApps, fill out the Faculty Access form on the UFApps site and let them know the course you will be teaching and how you would like to use UFApps in the course.