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First of all, if this is not the right place to ask, I am sorry and just close this topic.

I'm trying to introduce Web 2.0 into my Math class for teenagers in the range of 12-16 years old. I've thought of creating forums for problem solving and discussing, del.icio.us for researching/sharing math webs, and personal blogs to make each student prove his/her evolution about topics talked in class.

However, I would like to know if somebody has had experience or has any idea of how we could use Social Web into a high school math class.

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great, first -1... I suppose that means this is not the right place to ask? –  Nobita May 13 '11 at 17:05
My issue with this question is that it is not specific to mathematics. You could ask the same question about any other type of class. If you can make your question more specific to mathematics (and thus make it more likely that we can help you in a way that another community could not) it would probably be fine. For what it's worth, I know that the blog idea has been done at the college level, and if you want to try that then WordPress has $\LaTeX$ support. –  Qiaochu Yuan May 13 '11 at 17:52
Flipped style of education gives you and your students time in class to interact. –  Maesumi Aug 28 '13 at 12:28

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think introducing web-based content in a high school math course (or any level math course, for that matter) demands a lot of work for little to no return. I understand that you want to engage your students, but I think that trying to do so in a web- or computer-based environment will lead to them spending more time battling the interface than solving or thinking about problems. Just think about the amount of time it took you to learn Latex when starting out.

If you want to get your students to think about math, and talk about math between themselves, then find good, instructive problems for them to solve. Preferably ones that can be expressed in some real world or simple geometric terms, and that can be visualized or drawn. Visual aids are your friend. Rubics cubes, bits of string, pieces of paper - whatever you can find to bring your problem to life is helpful.

Then put them into a long, coherent problem sheet with a clearly identifiable result at the end, and assign it as a group project. Give them a week, have them work in groups of three or four on the problems, and make them hand it in as a team. At the end, get one or two teams to present their work to the class. Try and get the class to discuss the solutions. Then change up the groups and repeat.

Of course this demands an incredible amount of work from you as a teacher. But it'll be work put towards teaching your students mathematics, instead of teaching them to claw their way through a halfway functional web interface.

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I disagree with the first paragraph; it seems to be predicated on the assumption that the interface will be poorly designed. Art of Problem Solving (artofproblemsolving.com) runs online classes using a Java chat client with $\LaTeX$ support which is very easy to use, certainly no harder than posting on this site. As for your other suggestion, problems are of course wonderful but I personally despise group projects unless they are very carefully individually graded; there are few feelings worse than knowing you'll be judged because your group members did no work. –  Qiaochu Yuan May 13 '11 at 19:13
I admit I only know Art of Problem Solving in passing, but like this site, or MO, it is no substitute for discussing math with another person. It is helpful to put your thoughts in writing, but getting to the stage where that becomes possible is reached quicker by face to face discussions than by online activities. Your objections to group work are of course valid. However, it is my experience that when it works, it does wonders (my experience is as a part of a group of older students than the ones in question). No method is perfect, but I feel we can often do better than online teaching. –  Gunnar Þór Magnússon May 13 '11 at 20:21
Thanks for your comments. I am thinking on creating some statistics (group) project that would be using Google Spreadsheet. I believe that getting real data online from (for example) stock markets, it's cool and would engage students. –  Nobita May 14 '11 at 18:16
@Nobita: Good idea. If you can analyse the stats yourself in advance and find an interesting point to be reproduced by the students, that would be even better. (On another point; I took group work as an example earlier. This is not holy. Different people work in different ways. Do whatever works for your students.) –  Gunnar Þór Magnússon May 14 '11 at 20:10

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