Learning Math


Here are some suggestions for learning math. This is a subject that is best learned by repetition and practice.  I’ve organized the websites in roughly the order of their usefulness and quality.

From a Disqua discussion board, Myles recomments PatrickJMT.  His tutorials are incredibly detailed.  He does occasionally make mistakes which he corrects fairly quickly.  I can’t tell if that’s intentional or if he hasn’t figured out how to edit video.  In either case, if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions covering basic algebra through calculus, give him a try.

A former student (thanks, Karen!) pointed me to IXL (http://uk.ixl.com/) which has hundreds of online interactive exercises.  Immediately moved to the top of this list. (Added December 17, 2012.)

Pearson Higher Education offers MyPearsonLab (http://pearsonmylabandmastering.com/) for math, economics, business, and various science courses.  Unfortunately, the site is designed to be used with (what else?) Pearson textbooks. I use MyLab with several of my economics courses and have been impressed.  But the structure of the site requires that an instructor create a course and students register for the course. I’m exploring other options to see if there’s anything I can do to work around this situation.  The problems are very interactive with detailed, guided solutions and good feedback.  Downside: a few answers are wrong.  Another downside: it’s not free.  But there is a 17 day free trial option.

AnalyzeMath (http://www.analyzemath.com/) isn’t very interactive, but it includes hundreds of problems with detailed solutions.  You’ll need quite a bit of paper and a few pencils for this one.

Similarly, Interactive Mathematics (http://www.intmath.com/) has hundreds of problems with extremely detailed solutions.  Not very interactive, but complete, detailed, and free.

PBS (http://www.pbs.org/teachers/) has a series of teaching activities, some of which are pretty good.  But you’ll have to search through those that are not so good.

Learning Keys (http://www.learningkeys.com/index.jsp) is fairly simple, but it’s speedy and can be fun.  Lets you play with a problem type until you get bored.  And it’s free.

Teaching Treasures (http://www.teachingtreasures.com.au/maths/Maths_more.html) is an Australian website.  The material is all over the place.  But on the linked page you’ll find “Improve your algebra,” a set of drills in real time.  Highly recommended.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html) is really pretty good, but you have to hunt.  For example, if you select Algebra, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of a long page to see material for grades 9-12.  Once you’re there, some of the exercises are useful, but not all of them.

ExploreLearning (http://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm) uses “gizmos” to let you manipulate graphs.  The gizmos require Adobe Shockwave which you’ll probably have to install.  Beware: Shockwave will try to install Google Chrome and make it your default browser.  Easy to use, but limited educational value.

The Math Forum at Drexel University (http://mathforum.org).  You can sign up for a free trial, but I’m not crazy about the pedagogical technique.  Not enough “show me how to solve this problem.” Instead you get verbal hints.

Wolfram Demonstrations (http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/) is a little advanced. You’ll need to download the Wolfram Mathematica Player (free) to work with these examples.  It’s a plugin for web browsers.  But the site isn’t that useful because it doesn’t walk you through the solutions.

Texas Instruments (http://education.ti.com/calculators/products/US/home/) offers downloadable course material that teaches various math concepts.  Unfortunately, it looks like you must purchase their TN-spire software which costs less than $50 for students.  (I’m a cheapskate and generally don’t bother with sites that don’t offer a free trial.  If there’s one available from TI, I couldn’t find it easily.)

The Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/). Frankly, I’m not a big fan of Khan.  I find it has too many lectures and not enough practice with feedback.  But you can’t beat the price: zero.

Wolfram MathWorld (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/) is a collection of readings and references about mathematical topics.  It may be useful if you need a definition, but probably will not help much at learning how to do math.  At least it’s available for free.

A good source for additional resources is Homeschool Math (http://www.homeschoolmath.net/online/interactive_math_sites.php).  Scroll to the bottom of the page for a table with links to various topics and methods.

2 Replies to “Learning Math”

  1. Michael Schibly

    Terrific stuff, especially pointing out the free sites. But that’s easy to say for those of us (like you and me, and I suspect all of our fraternity brothers) who always enjoyed the subject.

    Any suggestions for sites that might show novices how much fun it can be?

  2. admin

    Now you want fun, too? Actually, some of these sites have exercises that are fun. When I get a minute I’ll try to annotate my list to make it easier to find games, etc. Thanks for the suggestion, Mike.

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