Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A vision for an online maths resource

Here's a scenario I dream of:

I'm about to teach syllabus topic X.Y.Z I visit my favorite open community site of fellow maths teachers, lets call it MyMaths(*) and there I can find, searchable by syllabus topic number, and/or topic descriptors, a manageable list of current, tried and tested, relevant online maths education resources. These resources include: deep links to activities at external online maths websites,  brief descriptions of key teaching ideas, activities, some GeoGebra files and Excel files, and even some links to digests of related maths education research. The resource attributes also describe the level of difficulty, and any support for students with special needs.

Once I find resources on MyMaths which I think may be interesting for my class, I'll bookmark them, and later, after I've used them for my class, I might return to MyMaths and rate them based on their suitability and level of difficulty - perhaps add in comments. If I find the resource is out of date, or not as expected, I'll flag it with a thumbs down - or at least suggest it needs to be re-evaluated.

When I find other resources I've found useful in class, I can go to MyMaths, and add the resource in for evaluation by my peers. I'm also following MyMaths on twitter - so I can track when new resources are added, or their status changes.

And since it is an open community site, the resources contributed to the site will be Creative Commons licensed (the contributor can choose the specific CC license - most likely by-attribution-non-commercial). There is an XML export option allowing users to import some or part of the MyMaths database. MyMaths is open to all mathematics educators, across all school systems - with a focus on linking to the Australian Curriculum outcomes. MyMaths is open in this way because it will allow critical mass - as opposed to restricting to one school system or one state jurisdiction. It's possible that AAMT and the state mathematics organisations might wish to be associated or support the site however, MyMaths functions as an open source project owned by the whole mathematics teaching community.
Is this an original idea? I seriously doubt it - and I see many sites across the Cloud approaching this vision - but I haven't yet found one that puts all the key ideas together. It's a project way too big for one person - and it would take a core group of involved mathematics teachers, supported by a wider group of interested maths teachers contributing and interacting regularly

The time for teachers to be working individually, each maintaining their own list of resources is surely reaching the end of the line. By pooling our knowledge, resources and experience, we could potentially have access to an incredible resource - and much more efficiently offer up to date teaching ideas to our classes. I suspect the lack of an efficiently organised resource goes some way to explaining why so many mathematics teachers just give up on online resources - instead going back to a folder of photocopied worksheets which they in turn collected from the generation of mathematics teachers before them.

If we had even just one mathematics teacher in each Australian school connecting into the MyMaths community - imagine what could be built.

What do you think? Would you be interested in working with a group to make something like this vision possible?  Or is there an existing project I could join in? Are the parts of the vision that are unrealistic - or should be modified to make it possible?

(*) Psuedonym used - no relation to existing 'MyMaths' businesses.


  1. Interesting ideas, some which I might consider incorporating into http://mathslinks.net.

    As I mentioned, Better Lesson is one option: http://betterlesson.org

    Another is Math Tools http://mathforum.org/mathtools/

  2. Wow - BetterLesson is massive. Almost too massive - need some time to digest it. Think I will select one topic from our syllabus and look at the full scope of what's there. A big challenge I'm trying to think about is the information overload.