Math Open Reference

Goals and Objectives

NCTM Curriculum compliant

In addition to meeting the NCTM standards for content, this reference work also has the potential to comply with the standards for every state. Unlike physical books, there is no real limit to the number of pages, so there is no impediment to adding all the material for all the states.

Web-based vs paper textbooks

  • Accessible anywhere, any time. Library, school, home, coffee shop
  • Less weight. A modern laptop weighs about the same as a paper textbook (about 5lb) and the new "netbooks" weigh much less. Additionally, a laptop provides access to more than just one textbook.
  • Interactive. Creates an interesting experience, not just 'dead text'
  • Lower cost. Avoiding the printing and distribution costs
  • Hyperlinked. To promote exploration and easy lookup of missing knowledge
  • Interactive quizzes. Instant feedback on wrong answers improve learning

For the teacher

[Image: A teacher at head of class with projected image of a page of the reference.] Because the illustrations are interactive and animated, the teacher has, in effect, a vast library of 'digital manipulatives' with which to demonstrate concepts using a computer and projector. The teacher also knows that the students can use the exact same manipulative themselves outside the classroom. Apart from being fascinating to see and use, the interactive tools permit far more better visualization and understanding. It is very difficult for example to experiment with the way a plane intersects a cone using a white board or even physical manipulative. It is almost impossible for the student to do it alone.
Other useful features include:
  • URL Permanence. We guarantee that the URL of every page will never change. This allows the teacher to produce class materials with programs such as Microsoft Word with links to the site, knowing they will never change.
  • Printable. The copyright and license agreement permit any printing for non-commercial use, useful for paper class handouts.
  • Many problems and activities, with and without answers.

For the student

When the teacher is not there, this is the next best thing. For the student, the reference can be used in two distinct ways: as an encyclopedia, or as a coach. As an encyclopedia, the student uses the search or table of contents to look up a word or term. This results in a page defining that concept, complete with its properties and usually an animated and/or interactive illustration. Usually, this is enough to jog memory about what went on it class. Heavy cross-linking encourages exploration beyond the initial query.

In the coaching mode, the student can get a step-by-step explanation of entire subjects. They can stop, step back or forward and view alternative explanations until they are satisfied with their knowledge.

In both modes, every page is richly cross linked to other related topics permitting and encouraging exploration of other areas. Since math is knowledge is built layer by layer, a student that is missing a previous layer can immediately drill down for it on their own. Sick days are less daunting. The student benefits from:

  • Access to an in-depth and interesting source of knowledge in the 23 hours a day she is not with the teacher.
  • Having a way to catch up missing classes
  • Being engaged by interactive learning tools rather than reading "dead text".
In addition to all the above, the reference could find extensive use in home schooling situations, and in very low income settings such as some countries on the African continent where textbook costs are prohibitive.


[Image: Using a pen-based tablet PC.]

The web site will work with all popular browsers, including Internet explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. It uses no tricks that require special browser functionality, and the pages will cache correctly on the user's computer and any proxy servers in a school, thus improving performance and reducing network traffic on campus. The interactive illustrations use Java and/or Flash, so these plug-ins must be present on the user's computer. Instructions are provided on how to do this, but most computers have come with these items pre-installed for some time now.

Supported hardware: Mac, Windows (all PC versions), Linux. Displays: 600 x 800 and higher. 1024 x 768 recommended.

All pages can be printed*

The pages are formatted such that they will display well on the newest tablet PCs which are actually smaller and lighter than many math textbooks. Most of these tablet PCs have wireless access to the Internet, so the student can have the tools they need anywhere - school campus, home, or coffee shop.

*   Not all browsers will print Java applets correctly.