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A more practical template for pupils and students

Summary: I would love the folks at Wolfram to provide an attractive simple modern practical user-friendly "filled" template for a pupil's or student's workbook where he/she can dive in right away, edit the sample entries (by overwriting) by typing up problem statements and writing down their own homework and solutions, or notes. The "epm-file" serves as a great example, Wolfram is allowed to copy/emulate it!!

TL;DR: Yes, Mathematica comes with a few "blank" templates, even one for writing a textbook. And very few professional writers were successful at employing that template to write and publish their book. But I am talking pupils here, highschoolers, students: "we" don't want to publish a pro-quality book but only need something very neat (simple, easy, fun!) which is very usable to use as workbook or solutions book.

The "template" I have been working enthusiastically with, is the notebook format by @Paul Wellin . @wolframdevelopers Just download the [21.8MB .nb-file]1 (let's call it 'the epm-template') and witness for yourself! This is an amazing effective beautiful attractive format to work with. It is "much better" (more practical, more user-friendly, more etc) than the blank templates which come with Mathematica*; this must have been his reason to create that notebook structure. To create something better. And one must applaud his efforts. His example of a solutions book inspired and motivated me to write my own solutions to problems, e.g. from maths texts. There are some technical problems I am running into because only parts of that notebook structure are easily editable, the other parts require notebook programming knowledge .. and were never meant for the EPM-user to be edited (e.g. the drop-down menus for subchapters). Even with the author's help, I can't figure out some technicals.

That's why I am sharing this idea in public, for the Wolfram developers to see. If Paul can build such an amazing ebook structure, why can't/don't the Wolfram team do it and also include the documentation or how-to-use-this-template youtube video tutorial? I showed the epm-template and my work with it to friends, schoolers, a.o. and they feel inspired to do the same with their (say maths) homework! Then I must admit to them that "1st, you'll need a raspberry, 2nd, the epm-template comes with some technical restrictions, e.g. chapter numbering doesn't go higher than chapter 10", then they ask the same question, why Wolfram the maker of Mathematica doesn't offer such an attractive readily usable notebook structure for pupils and high schoolers to fill in their homework and problem solutions.

The following comment is imho not too far-fetched: If there were such a (very similar to the epm-template) file which became popular on the internet, it could in turn even popularize Mathematica itself! Youtubers (incl. high schoolers, students) could make viral videos of how they write down their homework with the help of Mathematica instead of M$ Word or paper and pencil. And the spark would be really that fantastic easy-to-edit notebook structure! — At least that worked out for me! I couldn't get bothered by the built-in blank templates, I felt appalled, sorry to say; they might work (like a spark) for some, but totally didn't for me. I got the spark only until I saw Paul's creation for the very first time .. and all of a sudden the impact, I was hooked!

So @wolframdevelopers, why not put some efforts into a notebook structure creation similar to Paul's? — And this has to be Wolfram's task, not the end-user's, imho. As an end-user, I want to just use what's handed to me, and not build something even better, BEFORE I can finally start writing down my homework and textbook problem solutions.

Templates have to come from Wolfram. It's their job. The template should be built-in and called ''New >> Styled Notebook... >> Stylesheets: Solutions Book". In the meantime I am trying to figure out how to exploit more of the epm-template.

Point being, somebody at Wolfram should care. Paul cared, so he put his Wolfram L knowledge to practice and build that wonderful epm notebook. That notebook structure, in turn, inspired me to become productive with Mathematica, what a spark! And it inspires others whom i demonstrate it to. I obviously care, you can feel it with this lengthy post. Paul doesn't get paid for making his creation more accessible/usable to non-EPM readers or for writing up a documentation file how to edit/manipulate/expand the structure step-by-step (so that a high schooler could follow) or even shoot a tutorial video "How to use the epm-template for doing your (maths) homework". It's not his job. But, as I understood very well, anyone is allowed to edit and learn from the file structure, and re-use it.

I think that Paul did enough, kudos. Now it's time for Wolfram to learn from him/it and make it more public and accessible to all current users and prospective Wolfram users.

If nobody at Wolfram cares about Paul's wonderful creation, or my here presented idea (see summary), then .. such is life (and Wolfram is missing out on a simple yet effective way of popularizing their main product, at least among young students) and i will accept, even though i wouldn't understand. I can just wish good luck to everyone 's all. It is not my job (and shouldn't be one of my concerns) to market and popularize Mathematica, even though I care about its non-popularity; if a difficult application is not popular, then it's difficult to get new users, youngsters, on board. Free on raspberry was just the first step (and it appears that it did not have the wished effect of popularization unfortunately)! Kids choose 'the popular girl', the easy-to-use user-friendly GUI-driven application, which so many people and books talk about (and that is not our Mathematica, we all know it). I know that my idea is great. It worked on me. Paul's file. If Wolfram doesn't pick it up, at least i got this topic off my chest for the world to see and learn. At least the marketing team should pick it up, study what's so great about the file (the effect on the user), and seriously consider.

POSTED BY: Raspi Rascal
2 Replies

Thanks for thanking, the prospect (let me have some hopes up for this proposed new feature - your team might decide against it eventually, haha) and your attention @Peter, @Arnoud, @Karl, appreciated ymmd!

Good luck everyone! I am continuing now with writing my solutions manual (maths workbook), using @Paul's wonderful/effective "epm-template". I have written "over 500 pages" (hard to say exactly because the Print Preview keeps crashing the Mathematica application at around page count 270 and i'll investigate this issue in distant future). A really fun project. My workbook doesn't look as neat as a book written by a LaTeX aficionado but I couldn't imagine that a LaTeX author can compose more productively than how I've been typing and solving problems.

On an interesting side note, maybe the most infamous LaTeX-set solutions manual author is John Weatherwax. He wrote like hundreds of semi-finished workbooks, all typeset in LaTeX and afaik none including code (in Python, R, Maple, Mathematica, Matlab, or alike).

Hopefully Wolfram can offer a fully developed *solutions book/workbook .nb-template** file in future, very similar to Paul Wellin's one. In the meantime I'll try to pick up a bit on notebook programming.

POSTED BY: Raspi Rascal

Thanks for the feedback!

I agree that introducing Mathematica and the Wolfram Language to students at an early age through their math courses is a good idea for both the popularization of Wolfram applications, and the overall education of the students.

One good example of using Wolfram technologies in educating students is the Computer-Based Maths initiative:

There is some course material made with Wolfram technologies associated with that that you may find interesting.

I don't think that we currently have anything available that exactly matches what you're looking for. But I have passed on your ideas to our Front-End developers so that they may consider them for future versions of Mathematica and other Wolfram Language systems (like the Wolfram Cloud). As you can see from the Computer-Based Maths project, we are doing some serious thinking about this kind of thing, and find feedback such as yours very useful.

I have included your contact information with the report that I filed with our developers so that we can notify you should your suggestions be implemented.

POSTED BY: Karl Isensee
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