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JOMA Welcome

Tina H. Straley

With this first issue of JOMA, MAA is launching a new and very exciting venture into resources for undergraduate mathematics education. JOMA is a scholarly journal that complements MAA’s existing journals, has the same high standards of quality for which the MAA journals are known, and fits the MAA mission to advance mathematics, especially at the undergraduate level. What is new about JOMA is that it is an online journal devoted to online teaching and learning. David Smith, Tom Roby, and the rest of the JOMA team have done a great job in a short time in bringing out this first issue, which is dedicated to calculus mathlets. This is just the beginning of JOMA, and JOMA is just the beginning of the Mathematical Sciences Digital Library, MathDL.

Tina Straley is the Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America.

You have probably read about MathDL in Focus, but the whole idea is so exciting that I will repeat some of that information here. The National Science Foundation has created a program entitled the Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library, administered by the Division of Undergraduate Education. The national digital library will be a linked system of sites devoted to online resources in undergraduate education. The NSF is funding umbrella sites and sites with various types of resources. A user will be able to enter any node on the system and access other sites. The content area sites will be primarily discipline-specific. Each site will have its own character and interpretation of a digital library, but search data will be consistent so that a visitor to any part of the library may search the entire library.

In the first round of funding, three disciplinary areas were funded, one of which is the MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library. We are partnering with the MathForum, a subsidiary of WebCT, which is designing and hosting our site. The expertise and experiences of MAA and MathForum are a perfect combination to bring to you high quality educational materials on-line. The MAA site is cooperating with the other funded sites to make the overall vision a reality.

The national digital library will address some difficult issues in order to realize the full potential of the World Wide Web as an educational resource. Although there is an enormous amount of material freely available on the web, there is no quality control and no organization. One can do a search and be overwhelmed with sites but have no idea what is on those sites. An advantage of commercial publication is that materials are reviewed, marketed, cataloged, and revised. A work that is not well received is soon pulled off the market. There is no such system for web based materials. Instead the web grows in a chaotic state, materials may or may not function as intended, and materials not intended for anyone else’s use may provide no information to rely upon or guide for use.

MathDL has three components. The "holdings" of the library are in the Library Collections, the Library of Online Mathematics and Its Applications. Here, one will find online educational materials ranging from modules to full courses, from tools to curricula. The Library of Commercial Products, LCP, is a bibliography of books, software, and other commercially available resources in undergraduate mathematical sciences available in any medium. All entries in the Library Collections and LCP will be commonly cataloged and searched. All entries will be reviewed and maintained. For each entry, a user may read a description of the materials, a table of contents if appropriate, and reviews provided by the publisher or creator, the MAA, and users. Users will be able to add their own reviews. Each entry will have a discussion site. From the description page you can either access materials available in the collections or the vendor’s website for purchases.

Many libraries produce journals. JOMA is the journal of MathDL. Materials in JOMA must meet the high standards of a scholarly publication. Resource materials in JOMA will also appear in Library Collections, marked to indicate that these materials have had a rigorous review. Thus, this issue of JOMA serves several firsts: It is the first issue of a new journal of the MAA; it is the first offering of the Mathematical Sciences Digital Library; and, it contains the first materials to appear eventually in the Library Collections.

I hope that you find these materials interesting and useful. We invite your comments and ideas. The Library Collections and LCP sites will come online next fall, but we have already started to build them. Joining JOMA Editor David Smith, Doug Ensley has been named Editor for the Library Collections. Lang Moore, MathDL Editor-in-Chief and Project PI, and Don Albers, MAA’s Director of Publications and Project co-PI, are overseeing LCP. Any and all of us welcome your comments, ideas, suggestions, and submissions. MathDL will be the online place to go for undergraduate mathematics information and materials. But its success depends on you. Please join us by browsing, reviewing, submitting, and discussing. There is room for everybody in our library!


Tina H. Straley, "JOMA Welcome," Convergence (September 2004)