The Math Forum
15 August 1996

Grant Proposal

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Table of Contents

  1. Vision
  2. Our Goal
  3. Background: The Geometry Forum and the Math Forum Proof-of-Concept Grants
  4. What is Needed
  5. Our Strategy
  6. What We Will Do
    1. Community Building
    2. Facilitating User Construction, Organization, Evaluation, and Use of Web Materials
    3. Online Educational Mentoring and Professional Development

One-Page Summary

The Internet offers great opportunities for improving mathematics education. It addresses the need for education that will be responsive to individual needs and make accessible a wide range of resources and supporting relationships. Teachers seek access to a wealth of strategies, activities, and interesting mathematics, together with a community of peers, mentors and professionals. We expect students to find support for mastering fundamental mathematics and pursuing rich investigations through a network that reaches well beyond their local resources and experience.

In order to cultivate such opportunities the Math Forum will implement a full-scale version of our virtual center for mathematics education. Over the next three years we will concentrate our efforts on the application, scaling, and dissemination of what we're learning about the use of Internet communications to integrate three key activities: 1) community-building across the many groups involved in math education, 2) user construction, assessment, and organization of materials and projects, and 3) online educational mentoring and facilitation. The results of this project can serve as a template for other fields.

The strength of the Math Forum is its focus on using Internet tools to create an active community and a deep, well-organized resource center. Substantive materials are generated from the interactions of students, teachers, mathematicians, concerned parents, and teacher educators. The success of interactive projects such as Ask Dr. Math and the Geometry Problem of the Week has resulted in services that can be applied to other areas. Through our collaborations with teacher enhancement projects we have begun to develop processes for turning professional development experiences into online courses and training resources. Each week the Math Forum Web site is visited by thousands of teachers and students who want to integrate Internet math education materials into their teaching and study.

There are many curriculum and teacher enhancement projects needing support for distributing their materials and innovations to teachers and students. These projects can benefit from our experience with Internet math education, our software tools, and our support in making the transition to the Internet. Through enhancements to the Forum Web site, users will benefit from the extensive contributions of materials and the new participants these projects will bring to the online community. Additionally, participants will have opportunities to shape and contribute to online programs.

We will focus our work on leveraging the activity of a carefully selected group of existing math education projects that wish to develop an Internet presence. In this way, we can work formally with a number of projects while maintaining the Forum's focus on technology transfer and consulting. Our partners have been carefully selected to represent the range of contexts necessary to explore the viability of the three above-named activities. They include curriculum and software publishers, summer mathematics programs, teacher assessment, systemic initiatives in networking and school reform, pre-service teacher education, interactive Internet services, teacher and student mentoring projects, and professional organizations covering all grade levels and encompassing many different socioeconomic and cultural communities.

Over the course of the three years we will build a consortium to assume management of the Forum upon completion of the grant. We have also incorporated mechanisms to shift responsibility for mature projects to existing institutions or self-sustaining, fee-based services. A careful and detailed evaluation process has been designed in keeping with the scale of this project. We will have a direct effect on thousands of educators and support millions of dollars in activity each year. The evaluation will provide information used to optimize the impact of this effort and to document transitions in user and institutional partner participation. We will learn much about the viability of a virtual center as an agent of reform and a facilitator of community.

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22 August 1996