Posts tagged grant
The need to have a better “knowledge system” for aggregating and sharing news and information about math communities came up during many events and conversation. I summarized these ideas and submitted an application to Knight News Challenge for participatory media. They have been supporting worthy social media projects in the past, so we are in a good company there.
There are many other interesting applications there, as well – please explore – though ours is the only science and math project applying.
The deadline for the final version of the application is December 1st. I very much hope to get editing suggestions until then!!!
Here is the full text of the application I submitted. I hope it may help those of you who are writing grants of any sort.
Math 2.0 Interactive Community News Map
Describe your project
Math 2.0 Interest Group is a diverse, international grassroots network of mathematicians, educators, and developers working on projects involving social media, online communities, and computer systems – as well as new approaches to math education. We started weekly online interviews with founders and leaders of mathematical communities in the summer of 2009, which are available at http://mathfuture.wikispaces.com/events
While mathematics was once on the forefront of teaching with technology, with many innovative projects and ideas, it has been lagging since the mid-eighties. The integration of social media in mathematics education has been especially problematic. Few communities have created mathematically-rich social objects and most social platforms in use today do not support mathematical representations. There is still a challenge to easily produce mathematical notation online. Math has fallen behind other subjects in class-centered web 2.0 communities for children. There is an even larger lag in informal, recreational communities. Children’s mathematics remains very much confined to classes, homework, and standardized tests, or activities that closely imitate them. Most class-centered math communities are not sustainable and dissolve after the class ends. Some existing sustainable math-oriented communities are intellectually elitist and demographically exclusive.
The unique focus of the group is to address the issue described above by helping new and niche communities join forces and collaborate among themselves and with more established, larger communities. We aggregate math community news, especially recorded open and free live events with community leaders, from a particular point of view and with a particular explicit purpose. This purpose is inviting immediate collaboration, and collecting and disseminating information on the types of support communities need from the larger mathematics educator network. This focus is different from all other education media, and is a definite need in the field.
In the next few months, we plan to explicate and to visualize the rich data we, as a group, aggregated on the existing Math 2.0 communities. This project is centered on a crowd-sourced category and a tagging system for community news. In the first stage, for which we request the funding, we will closely work with member communities to define the initial categories and tags that describe them, their news items, and the essence of their social objects. Based on these data, we will build an interactive relational map of communities, news about their current projects and news about their collaborations. This project includes aggregating the software necessary for adding new communities and news items to the map. In the second stage, once the categories are defined and the system of adding tags and new items works smoothly, the tool will be opened to non-members, and will be made freely available for other communities.
How will your project improve the delivery of news and information to geographic communities?
A few mathematical communities operate purely online. Some are local with an online presence, such as math centers and math clubs that makes their materials available online, and host a discussion forum. Others support local chapters, groups or events, as well as global online projects and exchanges of social objects. By including geographic information in the tagging system, we will achieve several goals. First, it will be easier for prospective members to find local math-related communities open to participation and collaboration, which will promote their growth. Second, the rich data will situate local communities in the context of the global network of mathematicians and math educators, will make their news a part of larger stories, and will help similar communities find one another for collaboration. Third, this will encourage online and global communities to create, to support and to make more visible their local chapters and local events.
What unmet need does your proposal answer?
The math community tool we propose will help crowdsource rich descriptions and news that promote collaboration within and among mathematics communities. This need emerged from the activities of the Math 2.0 interest group, which has been doing this work “by hand” during the last year and a half. The main needs are overarching communication channels, news aggregation by categories authentic to math communities, and collaboration spaces.
How is your idea new?
There are multiple components that distinguish Math 2.0 Interest Group and the proposed interactive map tool for supporting its operations. The specific focus on community-building needs, such as news of successful uses of social media and communication platforms for math-rich projects, is unique in the field of mathematics education. The group is an open and inclusive community of practice, providing support to beginner community and project leaders, start-ups, and niche communities, yet including veteran educators and representatives of large, robust communities. The map tool will support, promote and explicate this openness, at the same time, unlike a directory, maintaining the strong focus on collaboration, co-production of content, and communication. Finally, the map tool will provide a directory based on categories that emerge from intensive, up-to-date qualitative research, crowdsourced by community members, of living communities and their daily happenings.
What will you have changed by the end of the project?
If one seeks participation or collaboration, surveying the landscape of existing mathematics and mathematics education communities currently takes individual searches of widely varying descriptions, joining communities that don’t make their discussions and news available to non-members, navigating within community structures to find right members for communication, and other labor-intensive tasks. News and valuable content that can benefit wide audiences stay within disjointed communities, because there are no accessible ways of finding appropriate target audiences. By the end of this project, some of these tasks will be accomplished with a click of a button, which will promote the growth of communities and collaboration among them. This will encourage generation of news, making content into social objects and sharing of news and content among communities. We will use snapshots of the community landscape, visualized by the map tool, to track changes in the ways communities use the system. We expect these changes to include the growth of existing small communities and the appearance of new ones. We also expect qualitative differences in the topology of collaborations among communities, viewed as a network, such as denser connections (mesh structures) that make information exchange more stable and efficient, or nodes with more connectors indicating larger inter-community partnerships.
Why are you the right person or team to complete this project?
The organizers of the Math 2.0 Interest Group have been surveying and annotating mathematical communities for a year and a half. The interactive map project we are proposing is a natural continuation of the activities of the group.
Among us, we have the skills of software developers, community managers, social science researchers, mathematicians, teachers of all levels, curriculum designers, and library scientists. This expertise will allow us to understand all types of communities comprehensively, and to develop the tools necessary for the project.
By now, many leaders of math communities are members of our network, and more join every week. We have good working relationships and open communication channels with many projects and communities open to participation and collaboration. The interviews we have recorded up to now, as well as our collective access to the news channels within communities, will allow us to map communities efficiently and authentically. The reception of presentations about the Math 2.0 Interest Group activities at national and international conferences, as well as communications from researchers, developers, teachers and parents tell us that the mathematical community at large sees the need for what we are doing, and will continue to volunteer time and support for our projects.
What terms best describe your project?
The terms we use to talk about Math 2.0 interest group in general, and the interactive map project in particular, can be grouped by several categories. The links that follow some of the terms lead to their sources, though we redefined the ideas to fit the needs of mathematics educator communities.
Community and network news
- Community of practice http://www.ewenger.com/theory/
- Central and peripheral participation, support of the long tail of participation http://www.amazon.com/Long-Tail-Revised-Updated-Business/dp/1401309666
- Flat, peer-to-peer structures
- Decentralized network
- Mesh sharing models http://www.amazon.com/Mesh-Why-Future-Business-Sharing/dp/1591843715
- Hybrid local and global participation
- Collaboration-level community, supporting sharing-level activities http://www.amazon.com/Here-Comes-Everybody-Organizing-Organizations/dp/1594201536
- Social objects http://www.slideshare.net/jyri/microblogging-tiny-social-objects-on-the-future-of-participatory-media
- Rich descriptions that make social objects out of community artifacts
- User-defined categories and tags
- Aggregation of news and long-term objects along multiple dimensions
- Linkable, shareable, editable, taggable, embeddable objects
Research and development
- Qualitative research including educational ethnography, case studies and emergent methodology
- Collection, analysis and visualization of quantitative data
- Co-production of research and research communications in peer groups
- Psychology of mathematics education http://igpme.org/
- Collaborative material and curriculum development
- Focused niche projects: humanistic mathematics, math games, ethnomathematics, story-based mathematics, mathematical art
- Computational tools
- Peer and community assessment
- Computer tools and community support for highly individualized education