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The use of handheld devices and computers in schools is becoming widespread and of growing affordability. Its educational power lies in supporting topics previously difficult to approach and in developing conceptual understanding through visualization, manipulation and exploration, while minimizing the demands of calculations.
The Math Tools project will create a digital library of mathematical software critical to the learning of school mathematics, including software for handheld devices, small interactive web-based tools such as applets, and other computer software. Beginning with knowledge of major software collections, a library will be rapidly amassed that features the most promising material. The library will continue to grow as critical mass and publicity attract submissions, along with the results of strategies for generating content from user interactions. The benefits of these technologies will be promoted by capitalizing on the Math Forum's large and active community. In collaboration with SRI, Key Curriculum Press, Texas Instruments, Shodor Foundation, and Utah State's NLVM team, this project will:
- catalog the math tools so that teachers, students and other users can easily find which ones fit their needs;
- present the tools using content strand portals for grades K-7 and course subject portals for grades 8-Calculus;
- provide mechanisms to help teachers and students learn to utilize the technology through such means as integration into the Forum's Problems of the Week, facilitated discussions groups, and manufacturer assistance;
- develop communities of users helping each other;
- construct a library of reviewed and relevant math education research on technology in learning mathematics;
- strive to get teachers and software developers working together for the production of better tools through such means as summer workshops and online activities.
This project will meet the need for a broad library of reviewed technology tools, augmented to include education research articles on this topic. It will also offer much needed support for teacher use of math tools, feedback for developers producing software meeting teacher needs, and fruitful interaction for researchers of educational technology. The activities of the project will aim for a largely self-sustaining user base by attracting a variety of users, including them in the formation of the community, and providing a wide-range of opportunities for involvement.
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