MathEd Forum

July 22, 2014

On-line Mathematics Courses

Background

Noting the wide range of predictions related to the on-line delivery of education, in early 2001 the Fields Mathematics Education Forum established an Online Task Force to explore the issues and produce a statement concerning the teaching and learning of mathematics via the World Wide Web.

Forty years ago groups of mathematics educators were experimenting with and advocating for the computer delivery of mathematics lessons. In these early projects, computer assisted instruction packages were delivered from large mainframe computers to elementary grade pupils sitting at teletype terminals located in their schools. The vast technological gulf between the university based developers of such systems and the school teachers who would use them and the public in general meant that the promised immanent educational revolution failed to appear.

The technological landscape has changed drastically during the passing four decades. Today the network connected personal computer has become a common household appliance and schools have classroom computers linked to the Web. Sophisticated software makes computer communication and information access easy and appealing for users of all ages. Surfing the Web, visiting chat rooms, and communicating by e-mail are becoming major recreational activities.

This new technical reality has encouraged some to again predict a coming educational revolution, but future directions are not clear. On the small-scale side of the picture, individual teachers are using the Web to provide their classes with access to current information and experiences that lie outside the classroom. On a larger-scale, educational institutions - school boards, colleges, and universities - are beginning to convert regular courses for delivery via the Web, and some authors are predicting the demise of these traditional education providers in the face of competition from agencies and corporations dedicated to the production of Web-based courses.

In November 2001, the Fields Institute hosted a Mathematics On-Line Working Meeting to explore the issues and produce a statement concerning the teaching and learning of mathematics on the web. The report produced by the symposium can be found here.

Task Force Members:

Stewart Craven, Toronto District School Board (co-chair)
Gary Flewelling, Toronto District School Board (co-chair)

Mary Beam, The Education Network of Ontario
George Gadinidis, University of Western Ontario
Lynda Graham, Sheridan College
Mary Lou Kestell, Education Quality and Accountability
Douglas McDougall, OISE/University of Toronto
Geoffrey Roulet, Queen's University

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