Written By: Josh Speer
Many of you reading this are in some sort of a math class this semester. Whether it be Algebra, Statistics, Calculus, or Differential Equations, any student in a math class will inevitably need help at some point or another. Luckily, there are many options available to someone who may be seeking help. Ranging from campus-based outlets to online, open source material.
I’ll begin with sources available on our very own campus. First, arguably most important and most obvious, is your instructor. They’re one of the most valuable so28urces of help, as they can focus on specific inquiries that an online video or even an email with the same professor couldn’t accomplish. If you need one-on-one help, most teachers will have office hours in which you can schedule an appointment with them and get help on whatever it is that you’re struggling to grasp.
Also on our campus, we have a specialized Math Tutoring Lab (L280 in Library) at your disposal. It is open Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am-7:00pm, Friday from 10:00am-1:00pm, and Saturday from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Even during the summer semester, it is open Monday-Thursday from 10:00am-6:00pm.
For those of us who do well with online tutoring, there are a sea of options available:
Purplemath is an online math tutoring outlet that surfaced in 1998. Since its inception, the site has received praise from a number of sources such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, PBS, and the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Math and Science. According to figures published by Quantcast, the site has a monthly average of 3.5 million visitors. The content they cover ranges from 5th grade level concepts up through college algebra. They also have a long list of test prep courses available as well: math portions of GED, SAT, ACT, ACCUPLACER, and various others standardized tests.
Khan Academy (KA) is one of the world’s best-known open source outlets for tutoring and online learning in general. They have formed partnerships with organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the California Academy of Sciences. They provide instructional videos, practice exercises, and a personal learning dashboard. One thing they pride themselves on is the fact that they’re non-profit because they believe in providing a free, world-class education for anyone with access to the internet.This site puts particular emphasis on their math resources:
“Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps.”
I have personally used Khan Academy a lot over the past couple of years to help with complex subjects such as computer programming and biology, but I have found the mathematics sources especially helpful; so much that I’ve written about them on multiple occasions at this point because, as a source of online tutoring, they’re one of the best on the web. However, there are still plenty of others that we have yet to discuss. YouTube, the platform where KA first began, can also prove to be a reliable tool for learning in general. When you pay attention to reputable sources, that is.
Patrick Jones (known to the internet as PatrickJMT) is a former mathematics instructor at top 20 ranked Vanderbilt University, as well as the University of Louisville. Currently, he is teaching part-time at Austin Community College and is a superhero in the world of supplemental math videos. With nearly 575,000 subscribers and more than 172 million views, his channel is one of the most popular of its kind on YouTube. He has a wide variety of videos available ranging from the basics of graphing to linear algebra, and a completely separate channel for physics. He even puts up videos exploring random topics related to math, like the one included above. His words of advice to the struggling learner are of value:
“Think about learning math in the same way you would learn to play piano or learn another language: it takes time, patience, and LOTS of practice.” -Patrick Jones
Whether you do best learning in person, via a YouTube video, or reading out of a textbook, the sources available to you for learning are plentiful. It just cannot be emphasized enough to ensure that you’re getting your information from somewhere both reputable and easy for you to understand. The key is to set time aside, have patience with yourself, and practice until your face turns blue. Just try not to hurt yourself too bad in the process.