Searching for additional sites

23rd June 1995 at 01:00
Ian Wilson trawls the Net for maths. For a general introduction to mathematics and communications, start by looking at Highways for Learning from the National Council for Educational Technology (Pounds 7.50, ISBN 1 853 793183). The NCET's Roger Blamire points out that there is a growing interest among teachers about possible mathematical uses of the Internet and that this momentum will be sustained.

He cautions, however, that much of the material currently available has not originated in the UK, but although there is little that cannot currently be provided in other ways, the use of electronic communications can add variety and increase pupils' motivation, as well as helping with their information- handling skills. He suggests that pupils can, through e-mail for example, work collaboratively across areas or countries, sharing data for statistical projects and testing hypotheses. Such data transfers need not be expensive, and of course there is little delay in exchanging the information.

The Net can be used to find sources of real data which could also be used in classroom work on statistics (even the National Lottery).

Roger Blamire also recommends a US-based on-line discussion group, Mathclub, in which pupils discuss notions like infinity, and he suggests that more able pupils who might be inhibited talking about such things in the classroom could be motivated through the computer.

One of the problems faced by first-time users of the Internet is knowing where to look. There are many general directories available, but these are of limited use for education. The NCET has a site (see list) which provides several addresses, as does the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education at Nottingham University. This provides a gallery of interactive on-line geometry, and you can find similar examples on the CSC site in Finland (access from Shell site).

The CSC site has many pages of mathematics-related topics, but some of them involve university level material. I have found that the "uk-schools mailing list", run by Doug Weller at Langley Junior and Infant School, is an excellent source of addresses and ideas, not just about mathematics, but about the use of the Internet in general in schools, and similar topics. The US sites (and increasingly UK ones) often refer to material as suitable for K-12, which means kindergarten to 12th Grade, roughly our years 0-13.

The MathOutline site contains many lesson plans and ideas for professional development, and indeed this does seem at the moment to be the main type of material available for teachers.

if the superhighway really does happen, schools will be able to use broadband links which will be faster and may be provided by cable companies for nothing. We might then see pupils using the system to explore exciting ideas like dynamic modelling. Until then, the Internet will require some patience and ingenuity.

SITES AND ADDRESSES http:www.ama.caltech.eduresources.html (US material) http:102.239.18MathRes.html (US material for K-12) http:unite.tisl.ukans.eduexplorerMathOutline.html (ditto) (Shell Centre material) (NCET home page) (provides very comprehensive index of mailing lists on the Net) http:www.halcyon.comcairnsscience. html (US Science and Maths Education resources)

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