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Book Chapter

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Building Virtual Communities: Learning And Change In Cyberspace


This chapter addresses the way in which the Internet forms the core of an intentional, online community by promoting communication between interested parties. The Math Forum ( is a unique group of individuals who are committed to using computers and the Internet to enhance what they know about learning, teaching, and doing mathematics. The Math Forum includes programmers, project and service staff, Web persons, and an ever-expanding number of teachers, students, and other individuals (i.e., parents, software developers, mathematicians). Thus, community building for The Math Forum staff includes work with teachers, with partners (National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics, Mathematics Association of America, and so on), and with specific services developed by The Math Forum staff that enable teachers and students to come together to pose and seek solutions to problems. The Math Forum uses the Internet to provide interactive services that foster mathematical thinking and discussion. These services include Ask Dr. Math and several Problems of the Week (PoWs); a teacher discussion format called Teacher to Teacher (T2T); an archive of problems, participant contributions (e.g., lesson plans), and past discussions; and an Internet newsletter. Within four years, with no explicit efforts to garner promotion or publicity, the site grew to include 1,600,000 Web pages and to attract 3.5 million accesses and over 800,000 visitors per month – a third of which constitutes sticky traffic ranging from world-famous mathematicians to elementary school children.

Published By

Cambridge University Press


K. Ann Renninger and W. Shumar


This material has been published in Building Virtual Communities: Learning And Change In Cyberspace, edited by K. Ann Renninger and W. Shumar. 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, 2002.

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