Open-source mathematical infrastructure and student engagement

notes for my AACTM talk

Posted by Steven Clontz on March 4, 2023
  • Demo of Intros-Blockly:
  • Fact: Many talented students of abstract mathematics, even those who will successfully defend a PhD dissertation someday, will not be in research faculty positions.
    • Of those, many will go into tech, often teaching themselves how to code or relying on previous CS coursework.
  • Proposal: Why not scaffold mathematical engagement, even abstract mathematics, with technology?
  • Open-source infrastructure for student mathematical projects:
  • Open-source technologies to consider utilizing:
    • Python/SageMath (lots of math functionality built-in)
    • HTML/Javascript (dissemination as static websites that can be accssed by directly visiting a URL)
  • Obvious problem:
    • No one taught us how to do this stuff!
  • Less obvious solutions?…
    • Find a tech solution for a problem you have in your faculty responsibilites, and convince yourself learning how to build it will save you time.
      • (Protip: it probably won’t, but maybe it will help others…)
    • Convince leadership to value this work as scholarly activity.
  • GitHub projects that need more mathematicians:
    • PreTeXt-Runestone, ecosystem for authoring, publishing, and researching open-source educational resources
    • CheckIt, framework for authoring open-source randomized assessments exportable to both print and LMS
    • pi-Base, database of topological spaces based upon Steen/Seebach’s Counterexamples in Topology text

Call to action

The best way to get started is to get involved in a community!

  • PreTeXt-Runestone Zoom dropins: announcements
  • CheckIt-App channel on Alternative Grading Slack: invite
  • pi-Base or anything else: email me

Open question: how do we build infrastructure for faculty to support students in this way?