This project is an outgrowth of the Geometry Forum project in which we established an electronic community where all interested in geometry could turn to find colleagues and resources on the Internet. By necessity we found ourselves working extensively with teachers and students, from kindergarten to college, and venturing into other areas of mathematics. Expanded activities included:
The result is that we can see clearly some of the obstacles facing teachers and researchers who want to use the Internet. Our response has been to create the Math Forum, a one-year, proof-of-concept project sponsored by the NSF to investigate the viability of a virtual math education and technology transfer center. We hope it supports the development of an exciting, innovating Internet community of teachers and students, creators and appliers of mathematics, the education community, and all others with an interest in mathematics.
Through the Math Forum we will:
enhance communication and collaboration among Internet mathematics providers,
investigate the needs of mathematics teachers, researchers, and students on the Internet,
work on Web interfaces that fit the lenses teachers and researchers are bringing and enable direct access to all that is available for their purposes,
support the development of resources that make good use of the Internet and offer rich, interesting mathematics,
replicate existing projects such as our newsgroups and Problem of the Week in other areas of mathematics and extend the reach of activities such as Ask Dr. Math.
Because we are aiming to be only a virtual center of distribution, most of the above items involve us in a coordinating role, filling in the gaps and providing support to other Internet mathematics providers in their efforts to address the needs of math education. The forms of support will include:
Our work in the proof-of-concept project will be aimed at three main groups:
One of the key tasks here is to find effective strategies for generating substantive mathematics materials that take advantage of the evolving technology of the Internet, particularly strategies in which the teachers who will use the resources are involved in creating them. Somehow we have to get the good ideas and resources operating in many classrooms to a larger audience.
In addition to attempting to serve the needs of math teachers in general, we have set up collaborations with special populations:
These collaborations will go a long way toward giving us information about what will benefit teachers and how to facilitate their contributions.
We have created software to assist in the Web-archiving process and in the management of services such as Ask Dr. Math. We have also written discussion software to facilitate local Web-based discussion groups. See the Forum News Gateway under "Forum Highlights" on the Geometry Forum.