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GEOMETRY SOFTWARE STORY
We have an NSF-sponsored electronic bulletin board, The Geometry Forum. Our goal is to build an electronic community composed of high school and college teachers and students, research geometers, researchers in geometry education, developers of software and other educational materials, appliers of geometry, and everyone else interested in the subject. Various aspects of the world of geometry make this a real possibility and a goal with important educational consequences.
There is a revolution in school geometry caused by some new computer software. Here are brief excerpts from a discussion which took place on the Forum last week.
Are you using any geometry drawing program in your work? I have heard of
- The Geometer’s sketchpad, and
- XYZ Geometry.
Are there any others? Experience reports would be appreciated.
I am using Cabri-geometre in some independent research. I became interested in it as a way to create examples for a book I am working through on finite geometry and I have found it fun and useful. The best thing to do is to get a hold of a demo version and try it out. I have contacted the publishers of The Geometer’s sketchpad and will be getting a copy to review later this week. I’ll be glad to compare them when I get a chance and post my results back to this forum.
I got a Demo copy of Cabri from an archive site in France by anonymous ftp, and am thrilled by its capabilities. I now feel comfortable with it.
A teacher who lives not far from me sent me a demo version of Geometer’s SketchPad with a few demonstration panels.
There is a fundamental difference in the syntax of the two systems.
Cabri is very similar to Sketchpad in its functionality, but (as many people have pointed out) very different in its interface.
Nick Jackiw of Key Curriculum Press then writes: I’ll comment, but first let me disclaim: I wrote Geometer’s Sketchpad I’m reasonably friendly with Jean-Marie Laborde and Yves Baulac (the designers of Cabri), so while my bias is toward Sketchpad, I’ll pretend to present my comments from a neutral perspective.
I’m glad to answer other questions about Sketchpad here, but if I begin to seem too self-promotional, I trust other netters will burn me down.
The points presented by Nick Jakiw are interesting. Language matters, I know. I guess I had not considered the implications in this context. I am not going to burn you down. I like the Geometer’s Sketchpad. I think it has a “steeper learning curve”, but higher pay off for the user.
Thus, it was possible to ask a question about some major educational software, and within a day there was discussion of what some users thought of the various programs, and how to get demo versions. Moreover, the writer of one of the programs chimed in and explained why his program works the way it does. This was a discussion which took place within a period of three days between teachers, teachers-of- teachers, and developers of cutting-edge educational technology. Nothing like this could have occurred before the Internet.
One of the participants, Michelle Manes, is working on the Connected Geometry Project, a major curriculum development project. She has described their project on the Forum, and asked for comments and advice. It is now possible for them to discuss ideas and to have their materials tested by a much broader audience than possible in the pre- Internet days, and to interact with incredible speed and convenience. The entire educational community has so much to gain that we are entering a new era in education.
This is actually a never-ending story, since I’ve just contacted a student I know in Grenoble (by email, of course), home of the Cabri-geometre group, and asked her to facilitate getting them in on the discussion.