Sometimes, we want to use easy access to technology outside of lab-based courses or specific modules from (say) a publisher.
The Sage cell is a way to do one-off computations in the Sage mathematics software, without loading up the program. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to access computation in the cloud.
We'll talk about several ways to use this in the classroom, from easiest to hardest to use in the classroom: unsurprisingly, these turn out to have the reverse ordering when it comes to ease of use for students, though all are pretty straightforward.
First, you can just send students to
http://sagecell.sagemath.org/and have them compute. (Let's do a demo.)
Okay, that is probably too complicated for other commands. But you can also share a link with them. I do this a lot in many classes.
Here is a direct link from my linear algebra class - an exercise from Lay's text preparing them to see Markov chains weeks later.
Once you've created a computation, you just click on "Share" and choose either a short, possibly temporary, URL to link to, or use a full URL which just encodes the actual code in your demonstration into the URL itself!
But from then on, they just click and go. I was really pleased with how many students followed through; it made things easy for them, no login required.
Still, this is somewhat unsatisfying, because you have to have the homework or book or course notes or whatever separated from the computation.
So... what if you just put the Sage cell inside a webpage? As long as you have access to the raw HTML of your page, this is pretty straightforward, and very nice-looking.
For instance, here is an example I used in that same class, embedded in this talk's webpage.
Several of you asked whether Smiley Guy could be transformed by one thing, and then another. Let's see!
Of course, this doesn't do things magically. You have to put some effort in.
integrate(x^2,x)or a fairly involved interactive thing with sliders and other widgets. But that will require searching through interact collections or creating your own - a small price to pay for students who actually think about the math, but still a bit more.