Create Courseware in CREO for Beginners

Learn tips for using the authoring tool CREO for courseware if you're a new user of Mathematica.

CREO is the authoring tool where we create courseware and assessments. CREO takes advantage of the functionality, flexibility, and intelligence of Wolfram's Mathematica notebooks. For users newer to Mathematica, we provide a helpful introduction to CREO including:

  1. Styling
  2. Formulas
  3. Advanced elements
  4. Save, deploy, and preview

Styling

Open CREO. Create a new courseware document.

The CREO interface is built as a Mathematica notebook. The notebook is a powerful interactive document that supports narrative text, graphics, code, natural language queries, and more.

Each line is a cell. Cell brackets on the righthand side of the notebook show the document structure. Clicking on the white cell brackets select the cell.

To remove a cell, select the cell bracket and click DELETE on your keyboard.

To add a cell, click anywhere in the notebook. A grey line appears.

Then click (+) on the main toolbar to select an element type for the new cell.

The element types ensure consistent styling across lectures.

  • Lecture - Lecture title
  • Chapter - Chapter title, each chapter will start on a new slide in slideshow mode
  • Section - Section title
  • Paragraph - Paragraph title
  • Text - Plain text
  • Item - Bulleted item list
  • Item Numbered - Numbered item list
  • Definition - Highlighted by a box
  • Proof - Highlighted by a box
  • Lemma - Highlighted by a box

More advanced elements covered in the last section and in other tutorials are:

  • Wolfram Alpha - Queries using Wolfram's computational knowledge engine
  • Static Graphic - Custom output that will be transformed into a SVG (vector graphic) for responsiveness and quality
  • Dynamic Graphic - Custom output stored as an embedded iframe and hosted on the Wolfram cloud. Students and educators can manipulate the graphics in real time directly in the course material.
  • Explanation - Explanations that provide more detailed descriptions for students in your material intended for the reader version of your courseware. Explanations will be hidden from slideshows to retain a compact and condensed format.
  • Hidden Code - Code that can be run to show an output but are always hidden in slideshows
  • Comment - Comments to provide notes for the instructor and are always hidden in slideshows
  • Video - Videos can be embedded in the courseware by pasting a link

Let's include a paragraph.

Type your paragraph title.

Follow the same procedure to include standard narrative text.

Each lecture gets its basic structure with a lecture, chapter, section, and paragraph.

Let's add an item list. From the (+) on the main toolbar, select item.

For item lists, type the text and add new items to the list by clicking RETURN.

Use the elements to structure your lectures accordingly.

For example, we can add a second paragraph section and a numbered list.

By using these element types in our courseware, we ensure consistent styling across lectures and keep the courseware nicely formatted.

Formulas

Formulas can be placed within any element, such as a text, item list, or definition. Let's include a formula within text.

Click (+) on the main toolbar and select text.

Then click fx on the main toolbar. The Writing Assistant will open.

Under Typesetting are various expression layouts. Click any button to insert fillable expressions into the notebook. The formula has a blue outline in CREO, but the blue outline will not be shown in the published slideshow.

Note the Writing Assistant has multiple tabs with common symbols and notation available to use.

Advanced elements

Click anywhere in the notebook and begin typing for a regular input cell.

Mathematical Expressions

For example, we can type a mathematical expression.

Hold down RETURN-SHIFT on your keyboard to evaluate the input. The output is shown.

Regular Input Code

Similarly, we can input code for basic graphics. Run the code using RETURN-SHIFT.

Static Graphics

Based on the output of our code, we decide if the output should be a static or dynamic graphic.

Static graphics are stored as an SVG image and are optimized for viewing online.

For our regular sin plot, the output should be a static graphic.

Click the output bracket so that it is highlighted.

Click the (+) button on the main toolbar on the upper lefthand side.

On the drop-down window, select Static Graphic.

The output is converted to a static graphic. Note the cell is no longer white.

Dynamic Graphics

Dynamic graphics are stored as an embedded iframe and are hosted on the cloud. Students and educators can manipulate dynamic graphics in real time directly in the course material.

Let's add and run the code for an interactive sin plot with a manipulate. Highlight the output cell bracket by clicking the bracket.

Click (+) on the main toolbar and select Dynamic Graphic.

For our example, select Demonstration.

The output cell now has an orange border. We will now be able to manipulate the plot in real time directly in the course material on SYLVA.

Hidden Code

In our examples for static and dynamic graphics, the input code for both plots is displayed in the courseware for students.

Let’s deploy the courseware to preview the lecture content just as students would see. Click the paper airplane icon on the main toolbar to deploy the content to SYLVA.

The preview will open in the browser. We can see the input code is displayed for both graphs.

We have the option to show or not show the original code to the students.

Return to CREO. Let’s hide the second input code for the dynamic sin plot.

Click the cell bracket for the input code.

Click the (+) on the main toolbar. Select Hidden Code.

The input cell now has a red frame.

Deploy the courseware again to preview the lecture content. This time the input code for the first plot is displayed, and the input for the manipulate is not shown.

Comment

Comments in courseware provide notes for the instructor. Comments are always hidden in slideshows from students.

For example, let's write a comment for ourselves ("Use this graph in assignment 1").

Select the cell using the bracket. Then click the (+) icon and select Comment from the drop-down.

The cell has a thin red frame, and the text is red.

This text will now be visible in CREO but will not show in the deployed lectures.

Video

Videos can be embedded anywhere in the courseware.

Click into the notebook. From the (+) dropdown, select Video.

A new cell will open to paste the video URL. Enter the URL.

Click outside the cell. If the video link is accepted, a green checkmark will appear.

Deploy the courseware to preview the video in the courseware.

Save, Deploy, and Preview

Remember to always save your work by clicking the cloud icon on the main toolbar. Then deploy your material by clicking the paper airplane icon.

As seen, a pop-up window will open when deploying. Select the relevant lecture from the schedule to assign the new lecture content. Then click OK.

After we deploy the lecture, a preview of the lecture is opened in the browser. Once you click Accept this proposal at the bottom, the students will be able to open the lecture based on your schedule.

Recap

CREO is a simple authoring tool with advanced capabilities. Basic styling maintains the consistency and formatting of our lectures. We can fully customize courseware and include everything from mathematical formulas to computations and code for comprehensive lectures.

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