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Interactive Textbooks for the Mathematically Curious

By Dan Lynch


Currently, there is a surge of interest in making complex subject material accessible to everyone, including very young students. Our platform strives for the ideal of an educational medium that is universal, crosses language barriers (e.g. non-verbal content), and is accessible to people of all ages. Many in the world do not have access to resources like universities, which makes it even more critical that those who do have access to such resources use it to help those who do not. Factual content is beginning to be expressed through interactive and immersive media such as real-world gaming. Given the towering amount of information now available, it is important to convey information that is as clear and engaging as possible. Thus, while the platform would be searchable for quick learning, it would also offer more immersive environments for deep educational experiences.

Scientific content increasingly relies on the presentation and authoring of complex multimedia diagrams and figures, sometimes interactive, to convey information in a non-textual way. Wikis and user-generated hyperlinked content have both been very successful in the case for text---this is what I aim to do for mathematical diagrams.



Specifically I focus on signal processing. This includes

  • convolutions
  • direc and kronecker delta plots
  • function graphs
  • pole zero plots
  • block diagrams
  • vector plots unit circle

Although these types of diagrams are the goal for this research project, for the scope of this class I will most likely focus on 1-2 of these.



Jvoytek - Apr 06, 2011 04:22:19 pm

Using MathML for generating interactive diagrams might allow this idea to extend beyond iPad books. A platform for generating html embed-able interactive math diagrams could be very useful.

David Wong - Apr 06, 2011 05:01:05 pm

I think that this is a very cool idea, especially applied to signal processing. I remember the first time I learned convolution, an animation of the process helped solidify the idea of the process. As people have mentioned, it would be good to look extensively into the related work of interactive textbooks and tutorials, especially for domains that have naturally interactive components like a computer science tutorial where you can try typing code directly. Also, there seems to be a wikipedia-like crowd component that can be factored in where the crowd can create the interactive diagrams within the textbook.

Matthew Can - Apr 06, 2011 06:24:37 pm

Nice idea. Like you said during your presentation, it's probably a good idea to focus on a couple kinds of interactive graphs. I'm interested in what kinds of interaction techniques you plan to support. One idea is to use the pinch gesture to change the frequency of a signal. Since the goal of the diagrams is educational, it would be great if you could get a sense of how the interactive diagrams compare to the static ones. I don't think it's reasonable to do a full evaluation with the time you have, but some informal study would be good.

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