The NTU Center for Teaching and Learning Development teamed up with the education platform N2 Consulting Online (NIICO) in broadcasting a live online instructional program for students who feel frustrated by calculus on June 13. Called "A Night of Calculus: Student Instructors Solve Problems LIVE!," the two-hour program featured five student instructors who presented a variety of calculus problems, and methodically and entertainingly guided the student viewers in arriving at the correct solutions.
The enthusiastic response of the viewers greatly exceeded the organizers' expectations, and the video of the broadcast continues to draw new viewers to this day. While the instructors' clear explanations of difficult calculus problems have led to the video's popularity, the wit and humor with which they approach the problems have proven to be one of the program's outstanding features.
The five instructors from the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Chemical Engineering were selected for their outstanding academic records as well as their love of calculus. In addition, graduate student Shang-Ching Lin of the Graduate Institute of Biomedical Electronics and Bioinformatics, who serves as a teaching assistant at NIICO, joined the student instructors on camera as the emcee for the program.
Following repeated rehearsals aimed at giving the instructors experience in front of the camera and working out any glitches in their presentations, the speed and locution of their explanations reached a level comparable to some of the nation's most respected cram school instructors. However, the most remarkable performance was delivered by Hao-Jen Pan, whose movie-star face has earned him the nickname NTU's Little Hu Xia due to his resemblance to the Chinese singing star Hu Xia. Though it was the first time he had appeared on live video, Pan managed to give a polished performance marked by not only precise explanations but also humorous reminders to the student viewers about important points to keep in mind while taking examinations. One viewer was so impressed with the instructors' calculus skills that, after watching the program live, he went straight to the location of the broadcast to discuss calculus problems with the instructors in person.
During the two-hour live broadcast, the student instructors adhered to a tight schedule as they took turns on camera answering not only questions students submitted online prior to recording, but also questions posted in the program's chat room during the broadcast. Adding to the challenge, the instructors worked in front of multiple cameras and were required to move between filming positions while calmly discussing difficult calculus problems.
The success of the program was due as well to the production supervision provided by Prof. James Chien-Mo Li of the Department of Electrical Engineering, who had gained experience teaching online courses while at Stanford University.