Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Designing For Virtual Communities In The Service Of Learning


In this chapter, the terms culture and community are problematized, and their centrality to participant learning at and with The Math Forum ( is discussed. Culture, as it is used here, refers to the rituals and norms that come to be associated with a site and its functioning. Community describes recognition of connections to and identification with other participants. The Math Forum is an interactive and inquiry-informed digital library, or virtual resource center, for mathematics education. Previous chapters have addressed the ways in which The Math Forum has leveraged the concept of community in order to become a dynamic and resource-rich educational site (Renninger & Shumar, 2002; Shumar & Renninger, 2002). In the present chapter, this analysis is taken a step further. The culture of The Math Forum is described as providing its participants with a unique set of opportunities for learning and for making the relationship between the individual and the community one in which individual and community needs can both be met. Site culture enables contributions from individuals that by definition help to build out and sustain this community. Math Forum participants include Math Forum staff members and a mix of teachers, students, and other individuals such as parents, software developers, mathematicians, math educators, professionals, and tradespeople, many of whom also volunteer their time as mentors for the site. Participants differ not only in terms of their roles, but in their experience, level of expertise, and interest for mathematics (Renninger & Shumar, 2002).

Published By

Cambridge University Press


S. Barab, R. Kling, and J. Gray


This material has been published in Designing For Virtual Communities In The Service Of Learning, edited by S. Barab, R. Kling, and J. Gray. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Find in Tripod

Included in

Education Commons