discussion_notes.htmlTEXTStMl,>I]IIB5# Internet Discussion Groups

Internet Discussions for Mathematics Education


What is an Internet discussion group?

A environment where persons can talk/write to each other and others can read or chime in. Technologies include mailing lists, newsgroup, web forums, and chat areas, each with benefits and disadvantages.

What's available?

Explore the Math Forum's discussions page.

Discussions are often focused by subject area, level, affiliation, or topic. Find examples of each. How to search. How to find other lists on other topics.

How to use them? Features and shortcomings.

Mailing lists: Subscribe to a list. It comes via email. You know when something new has been posted. It arrives in chronological order which means messages on a the same topic may be hard to read sequentially. Most email programs can sort by subject, author, or date. Can be overwhleming volume and a challenge to organize. You can pass messages along to others, attach files,

Newsgroups: The messages are kept on a central machine (news server) and threaded (organized by topic). Does not fill up your disk space and it has more structure but you don't get notified when new messages have been posted. Public newsgroups are available to anyone to read and respond, although some groups are moderated. Your newsreading software keeps track of what you've read and you only need to see what you haven't read. No notification. You can forward messages to others, cross-post messages (send to several groups but read only once), attach files, and sort them in several ways. Current messages can be searched, but the server usually keeps messages no more than 30 days.

Web forums: The messages are kept on a central machine and threaded. One can read and participate via the web. The web forum may just be a convenient method to access groups that are available in other ways (mailing lists, etc.) . Often archives go back to the beginning of the group and are searchable). Web forums can be created and attached to any object on the web. If someone shares a lesson, a discussion can be attached to it for those who want to talk about its use. These are newer and often not as flexible or powerful in what they can do with messages (forwarding, cross-posting, see only unread, etc) as email and news environments. Notification a new feature being developed.

Chats: Real-time, multi-user conversations. Not structured except perhaps by protocol. Immediate response but you have to be there to play. Rarely is there any archiving. In some cases it is possible to record, but often not useful. See TappedIn or CountChat.

What makes for a good discussion?

Moderation: k12.ed.math

Focus and expertise: math-history-list

Seeding the conversation:

Learning and Mathematics Series

Ron Ward's NCTM Standards summaries

Editing and structure: Cooperative Learning

Browse or search through the discussions and find examples of good and bad discussions:

What are the qualities of a good discussion?

What makes for a bad discussion?

How do you/would you use these in your professional life?

Under what circumstances do you/would you contribute to a group?

What keeps/would keep you from contributing?

What kind of discussion groups would you like to see?

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