MyWikiSchool Mathematics Project

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Project Goal

  • MyWikiSchool Mathematics Project has a goal which is simple to define :
    • To create the best learning and teaching materials for all levels of school mathematics (primary to pre-u) and to ensure every student have access to it.

Creation

To ensure quality materials are produced, these guiding principles should be noted at all times
  • Real
    • While the software eases collaboration and distribution, it is important to remember that quality materials can only come from real teaching experiences. The software itself doesn't create anything, it just provides blank pages. Only through good-old-fashioned-hard-work by educators in real settings with students can truly useful materials be produced. This doesn't mean online communication and feedback isn't valued, far from it, especially for discussions among educators. It is however a reminder that this project does not replace ordinary methods, nor does it make any empty/hyped-up/heavily marketed promises of revolutionizing education through technology. All the "normal" efforts in planning/conducting/reflecting/improving lessons, evaluating/monitoring/diagnosing/remedying students' progress, producing/testing/improving support materials, writing/editing/reviewing books for publishing, sharing/conducting workshops/seminars with other educators, tutoring/drilling/preparing students for major examinations; all these efforts not only applies here, they have to be doubled in order to create a high quality cohesive experience that will suite a wide array of students.
  • Detailed
    • Materials should include everything spoken and written (and even some unspoken and unwritten) in classroom lessons, tutorials and self study. Or put it this way, it should be compared to what can be provided by an experienced tutor giving one-on-one tutorials (considered by many the best resource money can buy). This, of course, will take time. Not only in compiling, but testing, reviewing, debating and refining every detail of it. This in turn pales in comparison to the actual ground work done before it is even compiled here. Well, there are no shortcuts to success in life, especially in mathematics.
  • Encompassing
    • This project takes the view that all students (save for those with conditions affecting cognitive abilities) can succeed reasonably well in school mathematics. Now, this does not mean this project only caters for good students. Instead, this statement removes the excuse of "weak basics" and forces us to do something about it. If a student can deal with numbers but not algebraic terms, we need to track down the problem to where it was supposed to be taught and prepare materials for it. If a student can count reasonably well but can't string together a few steps in a proper way, we need to track down the problem to where it was supposed to be taught and prepare materials for it. If a student can do addition but not multiplication, we need to track down the problem to where it was supposed to be taught and prepare materials for it. If a student can seemingly work out a method in class but not one week after that in examinations, we need to track down why actual learning didn't take place in the initial lesson and improve on the materials. If a student can do each subtopic well but seem to be confused between different subtopics (or between topics taught during different years), we need to track down where training of relating and contrasting concepts and methods was inadequate. Thus, in the end, there is no choice but to prepare materials that encompasses all school levels. It must be noted though that while we believe that all students can succeed, it does not mean at the same speed. But the always-accessible nature of materials here (so students can always review the whole lesson at their own speed) , plus the ease of linking materials (so students with "weak basics" can be pointed in the right direction), should go a long way in dealing with that issue.
  • Improving
    • Such endeavors are certainly not measured in hours or days, but years and probably decades. Even so, it has to be noted that work here is never "finished" and no materials should be labelled "final". The "best" material will mean one that continuously improve and evolve. Using wiki software however means that no work is ever wasted and everything is preserved. So while it seems that we have mountain to climb, we take heart that every small step will not be in vain.
  • Collective Effort
    • Even given enough time, this project will only succeed with collective effort. The software enables collaboration at a level that is hard to achieve logistically otherwise. There is the concern of "too many cooks spoiling the soup", but this is addressed by the open source nature of this project. There isn't any obstacle to "forking" the materials or providing and all-different approach from scratch if there is a need.
  • Open Source
    • Other than sticking to the main tenets of open source (that all materials be available to all to use, reuse, redistribute, etc as long the open license is kept), the underlying "coding process", how and why materials are in such a way should also be shared. This is to enable it be scrutinized, debated, improved on, and applied elsewhere if needed. In other words, we are not just open source-ing the best materials, but also the very process in creating those materials.

Distribution

Being online might seem to relate this project to those silly ideas of replacing teachers/schools with technology. While self study is made easy with it being online and fully digitized, that is simply the most logical connection. It doesn't make it the only way, and certainly not the best. Instead, multiple ways need to be deployed in order to reach the largest audience, including future methods that might not yet be feasible now.
  • Teachers/Tutors/Peers
    • As mentioned, this project does not seek to replace teachers/tutors. However, if we truly embark on creating the best way to teach mathematics, then there is no reason any teacher should not teach the same way as here. This is especially true if the teacher have no prior experience whatsoever in that particular subtopic/concept; non-option teachers / temporary untrained teachers / fresh graduates / relief teachers and even experienced mathematics teacher who does not have experience at that particular level. The level of details of the content here means that any teacher can teach as well as one who have years of experience. Now, this does not mean we are turning teachers into passive channel to deliver the exact same lesson everywhere; anyone who have taught knows that delivering content is only a small part of a teachers job during lessons. But by leveraging the content here which is build upon years of experience and ground work, those teachers can put more effort into motivating/caring/building characters of students; things that truly matters at the end of the day. Neither does this mean that more experienced teachers have nothing to do before and after lessons. Continuously testing, reporting, tweaking, adding alternatives; these efforts involves more than the usual writing of a few lines of reflection. It has been noted too that the level of details in the content might also make this a tool in teacher-training. At the very least, it gives them easy access to a wide array of real content as it is being taught in real classes, as well as the reasoning and discussion among educators of "why" it should that way. This extends to peer-tutoring/group study. Too often we have well-intentioned good students trying to help weaker ones but end up mostly "telling" rather than actually guiding.
  • Self study
    • Online access will of course be the ideal method; improve something and student automatically have access to the newest version of materials. But where this is not feasible, offline files can be distributed from time to time. This does require some logistic considerations, but is nevertheless workable with enough planning.
  • Other electronic formats
    • The current format of compiling with wiki software and using hide/play tags to approximate interaction is just the most feasible way to create and edit a large amount of content in detail. This doesn't place a limit on the type of formats it can be presented in once the content is deemed mature enough (to reduce the work load on reconverting should there be changes). Videos, animated files, mobile apps, etc will have its advantages, especially when it comes to presenting materials for the younger ones.

Language and Translation

  • The long term plan is to have all contents available in English, Bahasa, Chinese as well as Tamil.
  • Discussions among teachers will only take place in the English page.
  • While translation will involve some effort, it shouldn't be difficult once we find willing contributors. What is difficult is syncing contents across all languages, i.e. making sure changes to one language will result in changes in other languages. A few things to consider :
    • Contents can be allowed to reach some level of stability before any translation work is commenced. This will reduce syncing efforts.
    • Translators need to commit long term to this project, i.e. to keep up with the syncing efforts after the initial translation.--Senghong79 15:29, 26 June 2013 (MYT)