1. The user front end
Our digital library will support separate entry points for faculty,
students, and developers. (When we extend our work to the pre-college world,
other potential users such as parents, schoolteachers, and students will be
accommodated.) There will be common threads, such as the basic
organizational structure of the table of contents for the various subjects,
but there will be different presentations for the various user groups.
Using formative data collected to identify and respond to user needs, our
evaluation services will be designed, developed, and implimented to meet the
needs of different users. Our intention is to make the site welcoming and
easy to use. Applets and teaching units need to be readily locatable by
subject, level, necessary environment, curricular role and context, relation
to standards, and other criteria that users find important. We will
carefully work out the metadata classification, building on what has been
done for applets by EOE and for Web standards by IMS , and collaborating
with groups in other areas, e.g. the engineering education project NEEDS and
ENC, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse , a sister project with the
Math Forum in metadata endeavors.
2. Services for faculty
We will provide an introduction to the site for faculty, survey papers
discussing the contents of the collection, a place for asking questions
about the site, a discussion group concerned with using applets in teaching,
an archive of frequently asked questions, and a special area for asking "why
doesn't someone develop an applet that does XX?" all of course
searchable. A search engine will be at hand and the tables of contents for
the various courses will be featured for browsing. In addition to showing
which topics have applets and teaching units and which have applications to
science and engineering, the contents will make apparent what is lacking;
prizes will be advertised and approaches suggested for those who wish to
help fill in the holes.
Faculty will be encouraged to write their own teaching units making use of
the applets and other small programs that emerge. We will give directions
and develop any necessary software help so they can conveniently use the
applets in their work (at least those that reside on our server). We have a
subcontract with the ESCOT project that will assist non-technical teachers
to exploit interoperability, combining applets in teaching units aimed at
filling curriculum gaps. Industries will be asked to provide awards for the
best new teaching units in various areas. A letter from Microsoft is
attached in Section I stating that they are very positive about supporting
such prizes, as well as prizes for students and developers.
3. Services for students
While the entry point for faculty is intended to help teachers quickly find
and use materials, while also encouraging them to become contributors, the
student front end will focus on using materials to help in understanding
Student services will discuss how to find useful material. For browsing, the
tables of contents will highlight items recommended by students and
teachers, and those frequently accessed. Flags will indicate applications to
the sciences and engineering. There will be a student discussion area, the
possibility of asking questions about the site, and FAQs. We will give
modest honoraria to student groups and perhaps to exceptional students to
discuss how they use the library effectively. Feedback from students -- the
real end users -- will be encouraged, and their input will be solicited for
improving the teaching units, suggesting needed topics, and improving the
We will be encouraging students to take a more active role than is
customary. They will be involved in evaluating and making recommendations
for teaching materials and software, in site improvement, and in
contributing their own work. Experience indicates that students can be good
Java programmers: two years ago the Math Forum had an 8th grader submit a
nice applet showing how to simplify an algebraic equation in response to a
Forum problem. (Moreover, the programmer of our most successful programming
project started working on what was to become the Geometer's Sketchpad
when he was a college sophomore.) We will provide a venue for students to
discuss mathematically oriented Java programming. Alexander Bogomolny 
has agreed to serve as a consultant for this. The JCampus site , which
has a collection of Java programming resources for computer science
students, has invited our students to take advantage of their materials.
Students have also written good supplementary materials. (See "Famous
Problems in Mathematics" , written by Isaac Reed during the summer of
his sophomore year. These pages have received many favorable comments and
were selected by the Canadian Mathematical Society as worthy of notice
.) While really excellent material may be rare, we believe it is of
great importance to support student efforts in this direction.
To stimulate all this programming and writing talent, we will encourage
students to submit their work to a special section of our digital library
where it will be carefully reviewed separately from other material, and we
will award student prizes in various categories.
4. Services for developers
We will offer a developer's introduction to the site and discussion
possibilities, together with useful information and tools. The tables of
contents for developers will highlight areas of the curriculum that lack
applets. For developer support, we will provide articles on curricular
directions and programming techniques by Alexander Bogomolny.
4.1. Interoperability and reusability
Re-use and interoperability of applets in the digital library will be
investigated by the ESCOT group at SRI. Using an integrated team approach,
they will (a) develop and maintain a portion of the developer section of the
JOMA Web site that documents the reuse and interoperability of open source
software and recommends appropriate alternatives for JOMA contributors; (b)
work with developers submitting to JOMA to encourage re-use of existing
applets in novel ways; and (c) develop recommendations for applet re-use and
interoperability to inform developers and digital library personnel.
This effort will document various strategies for open source software,
reuse, and interoperability, and will recommend appropriate alternatives for
JOMA contributors. A regular JOMA "column" on these subjects will appear
four times a year. ESCOT will also analyze contributions to JOMA for current
and potential reuse and interoperability and will report annually on these
topics across the digital library.
In consultation with the PI and the JOMA Applets Editor, ESCOT will choose
one contribution per issue and attempt to:
- inform the author(s) about ways to enhance re-use and interoperability,
and encourage updates;
- or, if the contributor is not available for further work, seek equivalent
tools or components available in open source form, and let the community
know of their availability.
Each year, ESCOT will work with four authors to develop JOMA contributions
that re-use existing components in novel ways. The authors will need
curricular and subject-matter expertise rather than technical development
skills. In accordance with the ESCOT "integration team" approach, authors
will be paired with in-house developers.
We are banking on the likelihood that developers will wish to have their
work catalogued in a central, recognized, and easily accessed location. Our
preference will be to offer the source code for applets, although
professionals may justifiably balk at this. The next best would be class
files (Java binary--as close to compiled as Java gets); links to the applets
would be the third choice. Since some institutions may regard their
academics' work as their property, even though it is rather small scale,
our approach will be for developers to retain intellectual property rights
to their work. We may ask institutions to pay to use the library if they
insist on retaining intellectual property rights.
Some developers (and institutions holding intellectual property rights) may
be persuaded to make their work available to users for a limited time. For
example, I might want a teaching unit on the remainder term in Taylor
polynomials for just the week in which I cover that topic. Users who sign an
agreement to limit distribution to their teaching needs could be issued a
"library card" and would be able to "check out" such material for a
specified amount of time. We will pursue this option if we encounter
excellent material that might otherwise be unavailable.
5. User communities
An important goal of this project is to enable the sharing and discussion of
applet use and development, both between and among its diverse user groups.
Web-based discussion groups will be available to all users. These will be
archived, fully searchable, and if necessary moderated, using special
software that the Math Forum has developed. (The Math Forum staff has found
Web-based discussions to be more effective when they include email
notification, so this will be an option.) As part of our community-building
efforts, we will identify groups with common interests (e.g. matrix applets)
and ask whether they wish to be notified when anything meeting such an
interest is posted.
The growth of leaders from each of the user groups will be tracked and these
individuals will be encouraged to take on various digital library functions.
Thus, faculty members will asked for reviews, students to survey available
material for various courses and discuss how satisfactory it is for their
learning, and developers will be encouraged to fill crucial curricular gaps.
We will also create possibilities for interactions among the communities.
Faculty may post requests for specific applets to the developer group;
teachers and students will be asked to provide feedback to developers for
works-in-progress; students will give feedback to authors of teaching units,
etc. There will also be an open forum for all users to discuss common