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Editor's Notes, December 2001

Author(s): 
David A. Smith

 

Welcome, dear reader, to the third issue of JOMA, our concluding issue for Volume 1. Each of our issues to date has had a non-exclusive "focus." In issue one, the focus was on Mathlets for calculus. Issue 2 featured the Middle Atlantic Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications Throughout the Curriculum (MACMATC), whose current project director, Jerry Porter, is a member of our Editorial Board and the person who first proposed the JOMA concept. And this issue features the Connected Curriculum Project (CCP), whose co-directors are Lang Moore (also Executive Editor of the Mathematical Sciences Digital Library) and myself.

Lest this seem like too much of an "in-group" thing, I assure you that neither Lang nor I had anything to do with the refereeing process or the acceptance decisions for CCP materials or articles about CCP. In fact, we owe a big thank-you to Jerry Porter for taking on the editorial responsibility for much of this issue. The CCP modules in this issue, the background paper by Lang and myself, and the user report by John Hannah have all been carefully refereed and modified according to the referees' wishes. Some submissions were rejected, and some are still in progress as we work to satisfy their respective referees. In a similar manner, we expect to continue to publish additional MACMATC materials as they are brought up to our standards for publication.

Starting with Volume 2 (i.e., immediately) we will implement a "continuous publication" mode, in which new materials will be posted as they are ready. To make this work for you, the reader, we have implemented a voluntary registration that will enable us to notify you whenever something of interest (according to your profile) is posted. Whether you choose to be notified or not, new items will be tagged as such so that you can drop in any time and see what's new. From now on, a volume will comprise the collected content for a given calendar year. [We're a little late with Volume 1, Issue 3 -- it still belongs to 2001.]

Our Articles section in this issue contains the two CCP articles already mentioned and two others. The background article by Lang Moore and myself describes the history and philosophy of CCP and provides a context for the five entries in the Modules section. I had the pleasure of spending six weeks in New Zealand in 2001 as the guest of John Hannah at the University of Canterbury, and I watched him implement CCP modules in a second-year differential equations course with a traditional large lecture/small tutorial format. His article in this issue is a report on that experience, including both the things that worked well and things he would do differently the next time.

The other two articles are in the category of "something a little different." John Kiltinen of Northern Michigan University writes about and demonstrates a "hands-on" proof of the parity theorem for permutations -- with software that you can download and run on your Windows or Macintosh computer. And Steve Szydlik of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has assembled a "toolbox" for doing non-Euclidean constructions in Geometer's Sketchpad in an article that is richly illustrated with applets constructed in the Java version of Sketchpad.

As was the case in issue 2, we have only two new Mathlets this time. We continue to have a lot of Mathlets in the pipeline, but we (and our authors) are finding that meeting the standards of our referees takes time. Our focus on mathlets in the first issue was enabled by a special grant-supported effort by the JOMA Applets Project, headed by Gene Klotz of Swarthmore College and Math Forum. That project is supporting another intense reviewing effort, this time on precalculus and statistics mathlets, which is taking place more or less simultaneously with the appearance of this issue. Thus, as we move into continuous publication, we expect to have a renewed flow of mathlets among our new materials.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to direct the attention of mathematicians and mathematics educators -- in addition to readers who think of themselves as software developers -- to our Developers' Area. We have an international contribution from Alan Cooper (Langara College, Canada), Stephen Linton (University of St. Andrews, Scotland), and Andrew Solomon (University of Technology Sydney, Australia) explaining how mathlets can be constructed with a new tool called JavaMath, which opens possibilities for new kinds of interactive materials on the Web.

JOMA

Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications

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