The JOMA Applet Project: Applet Support for the Undergraduate Mathematics Curriculum

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This project will produce a digital library of small platform-independent electronic tools for teaching mathematics. The method will be to (1) find these applets and other programs, both by themselves and embedded in teaching material, (2) review and test them, (3) make them easily available to faculty and students by publishing them in an electronic journal, the Journal of Interactive Mathematics and its Applications (JOMA).

The audience is mathematics faculty, students, and developers. The grant is specifically targeted at college-level material, but because many mathematical ideas span the high school and college curriculum, this set of resources will also be useful to high school teachers and students through the Math Forum. While the current grant will not allow time to collect pre-college material, its design allows for expansion in the future.

Our digital library will

  • provide access to powerful mathematical ideas,
  • encourage developers and focus their work,
  • model effective use of applets and tools,
  • facilitate resource building (applet interoperability),
  • provide curricular structure for applets,
  • support coherence and completeness of technology for the undergraduate mathematics curriculum.

Small interactive programs such as applets are fundamental to using the World Wide Web for learning -- they add interactive images, tables, and computational power, and can offer surprising and wonderful teaching possibilities. They are extremely easy to use, can run on any platform, cost little or nothing, can come embedded in a lucid discussion of mathematics, and have captured the imagination of many faculty as a means of presenting mathematical ideas to their students.

In addition to addressing materials specifically designed for the undergraduate mathematics curriculum, a special effort will be made to enable interdisciplinary use of mathematical applets by cataloging those in science, engineering and technology disciplines and constructing bridges to other Digital Library projects. A federated search engine will be built with engineering Project NEEDS, consistent metadata will be developed with other groups, and approaches and materials will be shared through workshops.

The work will be structured around the undergraduate mathematics curriculum. The first year will concentrate on basic courses, defined to be pre-calculus, single-variable calculus, and elementary statistics. Later work will focus on linear algebra, differential equations, several-variable calculus, discrete mathematics, geometry, number theory, and so forth.

Work will be undertaken with Project NEEDS and ESCOT to (a) identify and respond to needs of faculty, students, and developers; (b) establish review criteria for applets and teaching units; and (c) encourage the re-use and interoperability of applets. These efforts will provide the base of a high-quality, central, easily searched digital library.

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