Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dynamic Graphs for K-12 Educators

At the recent XML 2007 conference in Boston several of us met to discuss what we could do to promote FireFox and some of the important standards built into FireFox (or almost built into FireFox). Specifically several of us were using XForms and SVG and thought that the combination offered some great opportunities.

It was pointed out that the combination of the XForms range control (a slider control) and SVG allowed developers to create dynamic graphs for teaching educational concepts. There is an example here:

Note there is a link to the actual program here which you will need to use the FireFox XForms extension to view.:

So several of us are interested in putting together a grant to develop SmartBoard enabled educational content for the K-12 market using a combination of FireFox, XForms and SVG. The goal would be to create a "Killer App" for FireFox in the K-12 space. Ideally we will build 100 demos of some of the most useful dynamic graphs and then build a framework for teachers to extend these applications.

I also have a few Supply and Demand examples that run under IE but require the SVG add-on and just just plain JavaScript for the range-controls: You will note that visualizing the maximum profit by the area of the square under the triangle is much easier when you add the motion.

It was also pointed out that the Mozilla foundation has the funds to support this type of development and that they might fund a grant to build the top 100 useful dynamic graphs. We could then start building a toolkit to extend these dynamic graphs using some of the advanced drag-and-drop connection-based programming parts of SVG and FireFox. The kit should shield the average middle school physics teacher from haveing to write and debug JavaScript.

Let me know what you think - Dan

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