Math Terminology for incoming Uni students

It’s been a while since I posted, I have been busy with the end of term, and our new video room in the School has kept me busy, putting together videos of solutions to first year tutorial problems (you can see some of this fine work at the School’s YouTube channel at mathsstatsUNSW) and getting ready to go overseas to Austria and Croatia for August and the first half of Sept.

But another interesting development is that I have dipped my toes into the world of MOOCs. If you’ve been following this blog, you know I have been musing about this topic, with mixed feelings. But better to get some experience directly, and since I have posted on Insights into Mathematics a series of videos on Maths Terminology, I thought I would put a mini-MOOC together. It launched this week, to great fanfare of course. 🙂

Seriously, you can check it out at, which is a very nice platform developed here in Australia for hosting courses (like Coursera and EdX I suppose). It’s orientation is towards student interaction, and I’ve had fun making crosswords, puzzles and quizzes to complement the YouTube lectures. It’s aimed primarily at students entering Uni or College, and planning on taking mathematics there, and the idea is to briefly review notation and terminology that they ought to know. Actually probably students from non-English speaking backgrounds might benefit most, but perhaps others will too.

The course only has 7 Modules, so you could finish the whole thing in a day if you were really dedicated. Here is the link in case you want to have a look:

Openlearning is headed by Adam Brimo, who has been very helpful in giving advice and information. The other guru behind the project is the famous Richard Buckland, from the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW, who has also been helpful answering my dumb questions.

It’s early days, let’s see if interest develops. I am thinking that a platform like openlearning might be a good place to host discussions about Rational Trigonometry or the Foundations of Mathematics, allowing people to post, blog, chat etc.

We are also putting together at UNSW (we being Bruce Henry, Peter Brown, Chris Tisdell and Daniel Mansfield, with me) a PD course for high school maths teachers. That is coming along well, with the expert help of Iman Irannejad; who is a wizard with all things to do with filming and editing.

In a couple of days I head off to Austria for two Geometry conferences, one in Innsbruck and one in Supetar, Croatia. Should be fun, and hope to keep you posted.






1 thought on “Math Terminology for incoming Uni students

  1. adam

    Well Norm, Ive just read books 1-6 and 11-12 of Euclid’s Elements, which you inspired me to do, and I was blown away! The 12th book really kind of blew my mind, about how proportions in relation regular polygons and polyhedra were used to derive properties about circles, spheres, cones and cylinders.

    There was a proposition used in the tenth book that was inserted into the beginning of the twelth book as a lemma as a required but missing proposition from this set of 1-6 and 11-12, which was that if you remove more than half of a value, and from that remainder remove more than half, etc., that you can have an arbitrarily small remainder. I was so inspired that I went on to explore this property for arbitrarily small proportions, viz,, for any arbitrarily small proportion, if you take it away from remainders recursively, can you get an arbitrarily small number? Im no mathematician, but Im convinced that my proof is solid that the answer is afirmative.

    Anyway, I was inspired to start studying math maybe about a year and a half ago because of your Mathematical Foundations series.

    Thanks again Norm!


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