Prooftoys is work in progress toward a public, Web-based online resource and community for anyone who wants to learn mathematical reasoning or develop their math skills. It is based on the conviction that the Web can be an ideal medium for these activities and will become a standard way to do them. I believe its innovative contribution is its commitment to this combination of goals.
The technical core of Prooftoys is a highly interactive Web-based tool for correct solution of math problems and construction of proofs. The application assists the user in choosing reasoning steps and to interactively edit and extend his or her work. It executes each step as a small proof fragment, and allows the user to see each step in any degree of detail. It has become clear that the core can be successful doing its part.
During the next year a key practical goal for the project is to extend the core into an application for generating and helping to solve multi-step problems in the typical high school/college math curriculum, algebra in particular, and to get experience working directly with some learners of different kinds.
Users will want to interact with each other online as they work, an important future educational direction.
Some specific points:
Openness: The Prooftoys software is entirely open source using public code repositories, built to run in standard Web browsers, easily embedded in Web pages, with the project itself hosted on a public web site. The math is done in the Web browser, which greatly aids both interactivity and scalability.
Audience: Motivated, moderately computer-literate learners of mathematics.
Participation: Prooftoys will never be just a math exercise machine. Its full mathematical foundation and open approach encourage use without limits.
Directions: The goal of usability will be the greatest driving force for the foreseeable future, and there are also multitudes of technical choices to be made.
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