Would you like to work with your friends on GeoGebra? Would you like your students to be able to collaborate in online groups, exploring math together with a shared GeoGebra screen that they can all see and manipulate while they chat about it? Now GeoGebra is available in a fully multi-user version, integrated with text chat and other collaboration tools. This is an experimental version, still under development, but you are invited to try it out and use it.
The Virtual Math Teams (VMT) software (http://vmt.mathforum.org) is an open-source online environment for collaboration on math topics and challenging math problems. It now features multi-user GeoGebra, so small groups of students can work together on a shared dynamic-geometry construction. It makes available most of the tools of the current version of GeoGebra and adds new collaboration, reflection and research features.
VMT is free and easy to use. Anyone can register and anyone can use existing collaboration chat rooms or create their own and invite people to them. There are basically two components to VMT. The web interface, called the VMT Lobby, and the VMT chat rooms which are Java webstart apps, just like GeoGebra.
Getting Started With VMT – Using the Lobby.
Creating and managing VMT chat rooms is done through the VMT Lobby. To get started, go to vmt.mathforum.org and click Register. You will be asked for your name, a username, and an email address and some other optional information. After you register, a random password will be emailed to you. You can use that one, or change your password at any time.
In the VMT Lobby chat rooms are organized by project, subject, and topic. By default you will only see subjects associated with your default project (chosen when you register an account). But you can use the project drop down to change the current project. Click the gray arrows next to the subject to see topics under that subject. Similarly, click the gray arrows next to topics to see the list of rooms under that topic. When you find a room, click the room name to enter.
Here is an example of creating and entering a room in the Lobby:
Using a VMT Chat Room
A chat room is a shared environment for collaboration. Chat rooms use tabs to hold each shared application. You can have as many tabs as you like in a room. Each tab holds an independent instance of a shared application. So if you create three GeoGebra tabs, each one will have a separate instance of GeoGebra. A user can only see one tab a time, but the content of each tab is still shared in real time. So any time a user switches tabs, they will see the latest work done there.
Within a tab, GeoGebra acts just like normal single user GeoGebra with a few exceptions. For example, the custom tools feature is not currently supported in VMT (coming soon!). As you modify the construction on the GeoGebra tab, all other users will see your work! Also, anyone who logs into the room later will be able to go back through the history and see what was done.
Here is a YouTube video about the history slider, which allows anyone in a VMT room to review what was done in that room:
To add new tabs to the room, click the ‘+’ button in the upper right of the VMT window, near the ‘current users’ box. This will show a dialog box that allows you to pick which type of tab you want, and what to name it.
There is still much work to be done on VMT, so this fall we have several new features we are working on. They include:
- Adding support for GeoGebra’s custom tools.
- Adding visibility for which tools are being used.
- Integrating VMT’s pointer tool with GeoGebra. This tool allows users to select objects on the screen and reference them in a chat message. VMT draws an arrow from the chat message, to the selected object.
Of course, the best way to learn VMT is to use it! More info on how to use VMT, and student activities designed specifically for VMT are available at http://gerrystahl.net/vmt/activities.pdf. We would love to hear about any work you are doing with VMT, or if you have suggestions or questions about VMT. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest post by Tony Mantoan