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February 22, 2010

MMO: 'Mathematically' Multiplayer Online?

Keith Devlin, the executive director of the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research (H-STAR) Institute at Stanford, believes "we are at a moment in history where mathematics education, at least at the middle school level, could change completely and dramatically." His proposal is to develop an MMO not unlike World of Warcraft but fashioned as a tool for mathematics education. In this world, there would be no overt mathematical symbols, no pencil and paper, not even an 'X' to solve for, just interactions constructed to exercise mathematics principles.

At the American Association for the Advancement of Science(AAAS) annual meeting in San Diego, Devlin explained that the game will be geared toward middle school students. The drop off in math proficiency at that age range is so great that anything devoted to the high school level or later would be too late. The philosophy of the game is that the best way to learn something is to do it. "If you're going to learn to play tennis, you don't read a book about tennis, you play tennis," exp,ains Devlin. "The textbook is perhaps the worst possible medium for teaching mathematics, but it was the only one we had for 2,000 years." It's probably not ideal for advanced calculus, but for middle school math it fit perfectly.

Read more about it here and watch a video with Keith explaining the project: http://www.physorg.com/news186058705.html

Here is Keith Devlin's Stanford page: http://www.stanford.edu/~kdevlin/

Posted by undergrad at February 22, 2010 1:14 PM

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