Umer Noor

Teaching and Learning Portfolio

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Lecture slides and online tools

I am a firm believer of using technology if it promotes learning. I create electronic slides for each of my lectures and I post them on Humber's Blackboard site. These slides become the bedrock for my classes, guiding my students through the course material inside and outside of the classroom. Please see a sample lecture slide below from my 1st year mathematics course, and click here for the entire set of lecture slides.

Sample Lecture Slide

As you can see from the slides, I leverage websites that can make mathematical concepts visual and interactive. A couple of the most effective online tools I have used are the PhET interactive simulations from University of Colorado, and the wealth of math exercises from Khan Academy.

2D physics

In my 2011 physics course for 2nd year game programmers, I focused not only on the theoretical side of Newtonian physics, but also on professional tools used in the video game industry. The hugely popular game "Angry Birds" is a fantastic example of a video game that uses physics at its core. For the final year project I asked my students to create a simple game that uses the 2D physics engine behind Angry Birds. A student created a fantastic physics game called Ballin. He has polished it further since then and you can see the video below. More details can be found at http://www.dreamsake.net.

3D physics

After the success of introducing professional game programming libraries to my students, I decided to focus heavily on the 3D physics engine Bullet and the 3D graphics engine Ogre. There is a fabulous amount of mathemematics needed to represent objects in 3D and to coax them around the screen realistically. For my final year project, I asked my students to create a tech demo using these tools. Here is a great example from a student in my 2011 class.

Reflections

Since arriving at Humber College I have strived to make math and physics relevant and exiting. I have found that hands on examples and interactive tools help students realise the connection between math, physics and their lives outside the classroom.

I enjoy a good amount of autonomy at Humber College to teach and evaluate student performance. I use this flexibility to create hands-on, practical exams for my math and physics courses. Instead of traditional questions on paper, I ask my final year students to use lab computers and professional tools to build sophisticated simulations that demonstrate key concepts. I have found that some students use their exam answers as a springboard to more interesting simulations outside the classroom.