Draft Outline

Using the Internet for Mathematics Education

Stephen Weimar
Co-Director, The Math Forum

http://mathforum.org/
steve@mathforum.org

The Math Forum conducts projects that seek to find effective uses of the Internet for mathematics education: Problems of the Week, Ask Dr. Math, Teacher2Teacher, online discussion groups, Web Units, an Internet Resource Collection, and workshops for teachers. We research the use of these services and the participation of teachers, students, parents, and others. The following observations are drawn from these experiences and related studies.

I. KEY ELEMENTS OF THE INTERNET FOR THESE PURPOSES:

II. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IMPORTANT USES OF THE INTERNET
     FOR MATHEMATICS EDUCATION?

III. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?

IV. MATHEMATICS ENCOURAGED BY THE INTERNET:

V. NCTM STANDARDS ISSUES STRONGLY ECHOED ON THE INTERNET:


VI. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT TEACHERS ON THE WEB?

[In approximate order] They want: to find resources, to know how to teach _x__, answers to math questions, to make lessons, to find colleagues/an audience, to learn about a textbook/reform program, recreation.

We're investigating the role teaching experience plays in the use of the Internet, currently studying some possible gender effects. Who is more likely to spend more time exploring and trying to implement?

Independent learners overcome hurdles. Indications are that there's a lag of 2-3 years before others come along, attracted by the success and results. Some teachers want sequences, curriculum fit. Others want to gather and construct. The Internet facilitates both. It's a good medium in which to publish.

Collaborations and team-based approaches help teachers produce material. Exploring these ideas through ESCOT projects, leadership development program, etc.

Politics and opinion-slinging easily assert themselves in open discussion groups. Topic-specific groups and narrow subscriber bases are more likely to yield grounded conversation in mathematics concepts and classroom activities.

Many teachers seek or need broader mathematics education.

Learning new techniques and technology is hard for many. We're studying for whom, and under what conditions. Learning can be by doing discipline-specific work (one of many reasons why Standards materials need to incorporate technology references). Students and teachers often switch novice-expert roles in this respect, which is threatening for some and offers new opportunities for others.

We need models of use/integration/implementation in the classroom.

Teachers/researchers/parents often do not evidence the learning strategies in discussion groups and in workshops that we want taught to students.

Elementary teachers may appear to be less apt to use new technologies. This could be correlated with the relative dearth of materials and mathematics at their level, in addition to differential allocation of money in schools.

Teachers want challenges and activities for their students to do.

Teachers are not generally writers. The majority are better situated to share their students' work, tell stories, and reflect on these, with lessons and conceptual frameworks supplied by others.

VII. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT STUDENTS ON THE WEB?

VIII. IMPACT ON THE STANDARDS PROCESS AND WRITING