I have just started an informal study about children's participation in social mathematics online. My main difficulty, when interviewing people: defining social mathematics! Some parents don't know what web 2.0 is in general, so they have a difficult time finding math 2.0 in particular.
Toward this goal, I created a slide show demonstrating social mathematics. I can't embed flash objects into this discussion, so here is a link... If you know some good examples, especially the sites where kids participate, please let me know! I have just added this ning to the list.
Last year I started with my private network of grade 10 students KHMS e Mathematics. I shared about it here.
I would be happy to start a new network where children from all across the world can interact and participate
I am sure you would be happy to start something like that, and so would many members of this site. But would children actually choose to participate, given the choice?
This is a big question for the social web. Unlike other areas where social media brought an explosion in authoring, there is very little mathematics children author on the web outside classes and homework.
Maria,
Earlier I was also under this impression that children cannot do or learn Math outside Math classroom, but after experimenting with them and with selected projects I really found it useful . On students network they ask queries , answer to assignments by uploading their presentations/files etc. I have seen a positive impact on students who are shy in asking problems in a class.
I have used blog/wiki/podcast features in my Math class for not only teaching learning Math but also eradicating a phobia of learning the subject.
Rashmi, let me clarify what I mean. Children do math, inside and outside of the classrooms, WHILE taking their classes and in relation to homework, class assignments, and final tests. When math is offered outside of the framework of the classes, they choose to do something else.
There are non-class math communities that involve children, for example, The Art of Problem Solving - these revolve around competitions, which are somewhat like tests, except with better (more interesting) problems.
Are classes, tests and competitions the only goals that would attract children to social math places?
Thanks a lot!!! You rock! I am going to include that in the slide show.
I am also looking, specifically, for kids authoring some mathematics, without any class credits involved - but simply because they chose to spend their free time on the web with math. Do you know of any of those?
I have examples of adults authoring math outside of classes - say, creating Escher-like pictures and software for making the pictures: http://www.flickr.com/groups/escherdroste/
I know of many informal teen communities for authoring art, fiction, and other things, but math - ?
I am fascinated by this discussion. Three colleagues and I applied for a MacArthur grant last year about this very idea. We called our concept Math Spaces. We wanted to create peer to peer math collaborations on the web that could be integrated with FB, MySpace, and even the teen grid of Second Life. Needless to say, our project was not funded.
Perhaps social math sites are unpopular because math, for many students, is simply not a joyful activity. I'm not sure if we first need to remove the stigma associated with math before social math sites can succeed or if we should just build a math community (as you are) and hope the stigma will disappear as a result. Ideally, a social math site should target elementary/primary age students and should include as many opportunities for creative expression as possible. Where can younger students be found on the web outside of school? Social math sites need partnerships with those places. The next hurdle would be maintaining children's interest through middle school and beyond.
Colleen, maybe funding will work better with the new administration. Let me know if I can help you in these endeavors in any way. I'd be interested in more collaborations.
I am involved in a peer review software project, supported by several grants, that can promote student authoring, but it is geared mostly for college classes.
Even very innovative young kid social sites like Club Penguin or Neopets have rote computation under their "math" headings. I agree that partnerships with such sites may be a good way to start. I'd like to see young kids authoring with algebra, topology and other fun topics, rather than drilling 2*2 in yet another setting.
The only site that I found so far that is beyond the boundaries of classrooms/formal competitions and has math, young kids and user-generated content is Scratch from MIT. I do hope to find many more, so I am widening my search and inviting more people.