Back to step two || On to the work plan
Migrating from facilitator-oriented beginnings to user-moderated discussions at the end, we singled out three types of users: first-time visitors, loyal readers, and contributors. To these we now add a fourth type: facilitators. As the community becomes large and successful, a small proportion of contributors will become so deeply involved that they will want to help manage it. They will be willing to actively publicize, go out of their way to answer questions, spontaneously compile FAQs, and so on. At the beginning of the project, facilitators will be recruited directly, as outlined below. Our long-term goal, however, is to achieve a spontaneously self-organizing community.
We expect to deliberately build up the community to the point where it can become self-sustainingor at least to the point where it needs very little staff time to maintain. We have developed communities that are low maintenance, such as our "math doctors" for Ask Dr. Math. Realistically, we have to expect that the Math Tools project will require some administration and infusions. The Math Forum is committed to finding funds to support these through corporate sponsorships, gifts and grants, and general operating budget.
The area that is likely to see the most growth and to change in unpredictable ways is handheld hardware and programming environments. As our letters of support demonstrate, our proposal has elicited considerable interest and assistance from the manufacturers. We also will have industry liaison assistance by Jeremy Roschelle and Phil Vahey (see SRI subcontract) that will prepare us to meet circumstances with even more support, especially as we demonstrate our value to the industry. In particular, SRI will help us:
- communicate the NSDL Math Tools opportunity to Palm, TI, Intel, ImagiWorks, Key Curriculum and other companies,
- understand technical and business concerns that the NSDL initiative presents to participating companies,
- broker industry participation in NSDL with respect to Math Tools by talking to decision-makers and Web site technical leads at such companies, and connecting them with appropriate decision-makers and technical leads within NSDL.
Much as we expect developers to contribute new math tools so do we expect researchers interested in the impact of technology in math education to submit us their articles, allowing us to continue the growth of a valuable library for the research community and other users as well. This will also stimulate greater recruitment of reviewers and discussion facilitators.
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