Java Appletts: Effective Tools for Learning/Teaching Mathematics
Isa S. Jubran, PhD
Department of Mathematics
SUNY College at Cortland


[ Java Applets: Tools for Learning/Teaching Mathematics]
[ What is Java?] [ Why Java?] [ What is an Applet?]
[ What do you need to run an applet?] [ How do you execute an applet?]
[ Inserting Applets in W eb Pages]
[Excellent Math Java Sites] [ Some of My Java Applets]
[Good news! You don't have to learn java to make interactive Web pages]

Java Applets: Tools for Learning/Teaching Mathemtics: As mathematics teachers we are always looking for ways to better illustrate complex mathe matical concepts. Visual presentations encourage experimentation and discovery learning, allowing students to construct their own knowledge. But these are laborious and time consuming when done by hand on a chalkboard or even when done on a computer that is not equipped with the right software. It is a given now, that the proper use of technology should be an integral part of every mathematics course, but mathematics teachers are always worried about the time "wasted" teaching the technology itsel f. You often hear things like: "We are supposed to be teaching mathematics not Maple, Matlab or Mathematica." Are such software packages appropriate for use in undergraduate mathematics or do they represent an over kill? A powerful, machine independent and easy to learn/use software is clearly needed.

Recently, such a software, Java, was introduced and has been spreading like a wild fire. Java and the Web are providing teachers with the tools to create interactive hands-on demonstrations that lead to deeper understanding of difficult mathematical concepts. They are increasing the chances of success in mathematics for students with learning disabilities. Students are able to access these interactive demonstrations anytime, anywhere using any type of platform.

Properly designed java appletts, allow the student/teacher to expolre many complicated mathematical concepts without spending a lot of time learning a particular software package. All one needs to do is push buttons, drag points or slide a bar, while concentrating on what is important, mathematics, not the technical code required to do the mathematics. In terms of their educational function applets fall into the following categories: Simulations (virtual experiments), information retrieval, and self-testing (interactive quizzes).

Traditionally, instruction using the Web conjured up the image of a book in the vertical plane that has no pedagogical advantage. On the other hand, Java applets are a very powerful and dynamic medium of instruction, they allow for interactive exploration of topics in mathematics. The fact that these applets are interactive, promote discovery learning and can be accessed anytime, anywhere provided a connection the internet give them great pedagogical advantages over other modes of electronic instruction.

To demonstate the power of java, the participants will visit a number of excellent websites dedicated to mathematical java applets and investi gate applets dealing with a variety of mathemtical concepts.
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What is Java: Java is an object oriented programming language that is architecturally neutral.

Why Java?

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What is an Applet? A Java program is executed as either an application which runs stand-alone from the command line or a s an applet that runs under a Web browser. Applications and applets start program execution in different ways; an application has a main() method and an applet has a init() method inititiated by the browser.
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What do you need to run Java? From you need to download and install JavaTM 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE 1.4) released in March 2002. The essential Java 2 SDK, tools, runtimes, and APIs for developers writing, deploying, and running applets and applications in the Java programming language. Here you will find a compiler javac, a debugger and an applet viewer.
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How do you ex ecute a Java Applet?

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Inserting Applets in Web Pages

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Java Tutorials: