The PolyMath Development Group (PDG) working within the Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics (CECM) is involved with the TeleLearning - National Centre for Excellence (TL-NCE). Its contribution to TL-NCE is a project known as M3Plexus, aimed at delivering live mathematical documents via networks. The underlying mechanisms, all falling under the general umbrella of PolyMath, are being designed for use in both research and education in the mathematical sciences. The PDG is dedicated to exploring the technical potential and the social consequences of emerging network technologies.
Most of the systems are being constructed using Java(TM) and related resources. Some of them employ a modular component-based approach to rapid tool prototyping and tool construction using JavaBeans(TM)and OpenMath-based systems. These systems are expected to be applicable to a wide range of network-aware resources, from large scale digital publishing to tools for researchers to collaborative materials constructed for and by students.
With a view to exploring the constructionist potential of their component-based technology, the PDG launched this project. It was anticipated that a properly focussed set of tools could be utilized by students and teachers like a software version of Lego, supporting them to create their own learning resources and opportunities. Although the PolyMath technologies were still in the early stages of development, it was felt that a number of important issues should be addressed early on. In particular, the PDG needed to know: