Ask Dr. Math

Future Explorations, Year 2000

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In March of 2000, we finished a cycle of major NSF funding to investigate uses of the Internet for Math Education. Figuring out how to keep the successful parts of the Math Forum going was actually one of the key requirements of the NSF funding over the past three years. After considerable exploration, we have found a partner in WebCT, the leader in the higher education, e-learning market.

WebCT shares our vision of the future of the Math Forum, and will play a critical role in our efforts to build upon what has been developed to date. The company is interested in sponsoring the continued growth and development of the free services offered by the Math Forum. We also plan to develop school and publisher services for delivering localized or otherwise targeted implementations of the Math Forum communities, services, and resources for local curricula and agendas.

One of our core values is that of the community-based model at the heart of the Math Forum. A key piece of work going forward is to improve the environment for contributing volunteers. We are considering alternative ways of handling questions that have already been answered. We want to create opportunities for more sharing and exchange among volunteers. We plan to improve the speed and usefulness of the office environments for services such as Ask Dr. Math. We are developing better interfaces and more polished resources for users so that we will all feel proud to be a part of the effort. We expect to create versions or levels of our services that don't require the same amount of human intervention, but enable users to better develop communities and materials that serve their needs. We are working with government agencies and other organizations to recruit and train more volunteers, including a joint effort with the Virtual Reference Desk project out of Syracuse and the White House Office of Science and Technology.

As noted above, we plan to continue offering Forum services free of cost, including contributions such as yours, through the support of advertisers, corporate sponsors, and professional development contracts. We are also looking for ways to extend the services and archived materials to create educational products and services for the home and school markets.

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