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Welcome to JOMA - The Special Mathlets Issue

David A. Smith

It takes time to develop high-quality, high-tech materials -- and this project has been conceived, funded, and brought to (first) fruition in a relatively short time, approximately a year. We would not have attempted publication of our first issue so quickly if it had not been for a separate and earlier NSF grant to Math Forum for the "JOMA Applet Project." Mathlets Editor Tom Roby describes this project in more detail elsewhere in this issue. In brief, its purpose was to identify and review all the calculus applets in the world -- at least those that could be found by searching the Web -- so that we could publish the very best in this issue. We have an outstanding selection of "mathlets" -- self-contained, dynamic, single-purpose learning tools, not all of which are Java applets -- that illustrate one significant capability of Web-based instructional materials.

We also invited some of the mathlet authors to submit papers about the design, construction, and use of their collections. One of our authors, Xiao Gang, has written a paper about the WIMS site at the University of Nice (France), which includes freely available capabilities that go far beyond the particular mathlet that brought this work to our attention. In a similar vein, Franz Embacher and Petra Oberhuemer of the University of Vienna (Austria) have provided a short note describing the materials available at their maths online site. In a rather different direction, Tom Leathrum's "article" is a visit to his site to see how he combines the use of several mathlets into a student exploration.

For technical reasons related to the construction of MathDL, none of the mathlets in this issue are physically located on a MathDL or Math Forum server. Instead, our pages have links to their sites of origin. As MathDL comes on line this Spring, we will host copies of almost all materials on our own site to assure their permanence and stability. There will still be links to authors' sites so that updates and enhancements will be accessible to users. And there will be some materials (e.g., the ones in this issue from WIMS and from Vanderbilt) that depend on server-side facilities, which we may not be able to duplicate. But by and large, MathDL will be a "real" library with its own collections, and the actual contents of JOMA will be "shelved" in the library for easy and reliable access.

Again, welcome! If you have read this far, you're probably interested in what we're doing. Don't be a "lurker" -- be an active participant. Send a Letter to the Editor on any aspect of this issue. Letters will be used to seed an online forum for each item that readers choose to discuss. Think of ways to use the materials in your own teaching and learning activities -- and then do it! Submit an expository or research article, a mathlet, a review, anything that seems to fit. Share with your colleagues and advance the profession!

David A. Smith, "Welcome to JOMA - The Special Mathlets Issue," Convergence (September 2004)


Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications