Review of Top Math Sites
By Murray Bourne, 19 Jun 2008
HomeSchool.com recently released their Homeschool.com's Top 100 Educational Web Sites of 2008. There were 7 math sites included in the Top 100.
What makes a Top Math Web Site? To find out, I've had a closer look at the 7 sites that were selected by Homeschool.com.
The following comparison of the sites (in the table, below) considers several factors:
- What is the Content? This is vital for any visitor, of course.
- What Grade levels is the site aimed at?
- Is there real-world context for the math or is it math for math's sake?
- Who is behind the site? In some cases no name or address can be found.
- What does the site sell?
- What are the top keywords for the site's home page? (This helps search engines to determine what the site is about. Determined using SEO Tools - Keyword Density, mostly using 3-word phrases)
- Does the site have valid HTML (if it doesn't, there is a good chance that the site will not display properly on different browsers, different operating systems, and on mobile devices. Determined using W3C's HTML Validator)
- Does the site have valid CSS (same reasons as above - if the CSS is bad, the site can look terrible, or not work at all. Determined using W3Cs CSS Validator)
- How popular is the site? This one is tricky, since there are different ways to measure it. I have included Google's PageRank score (high is good - it means Google knows that many other sites link to the site; maximum is 10), Alexa Rank (lowest is best - this is supposed to be the site's popularity rank, but is skewed due to its non-representative sample), Compete Rank (same concept as Alexa; lowest is best)
The original list of math sites on Homeschool.com did not appear to be in any particular order. I have ranked the sites, based on what I believe to be important in a math Website, which is as follows:
- Quality of content and context for the math
- Value to students (which I regard as having greater importance than a site's value to teachers, or parents in the case of homeschooling, since we are trying to develop in our students some self-learning skills and life-long learning skills)
- Web standards (how well is the site designed? Is it future-proof?)
Of course, I have kept in mind the needs of home-schoolers in my comparison.
At the bottom of the table, I have included a similar analysis of my own site, Interactive Mathematics, for comparison. (It was not included in Homeschool.com's list)
I hope you find the following information useful.
[Information as at June 2008.]
1. Ask Dr. Math
College & Beyond
|Grade Level||K to 15+|
|Real-world Context||Possibly, depends on the student's question|
|Who||Originally Swarthmore College, now 300 volunteer 'Doctors' from all over the world|
|Sells||Dr Math books
|Top 5 Keywords||the math forum
ask dr math
algebra dr math
dr math explains
explains algebra dr
|Valid HTML||No (14 errors)|
|Comments||Searchable database of questions with solutions.
Students are directed to Tutor.com if they "can't wait" for an answer.
2. Purple Math
|Content||Good explanations on a wide range of topics:
Solving Word Problems
|Grade Level||5 to 12|
|Real-world Context||Some - in the word problems|
|Sells||CD of whole site for sale at nominal $10.|
|Top 5 Keywords||lessons are written
student in mind
pointing out common
help you find
written with the
|Valid HTML||No (11 errors)|
|Comments||Very slowpage load time for several pages on the site.
I tried again at different times of the day over a few days and page loads over 1 minute were common.
3. Math Goodies
|Content||Easy to understand lessons on:
Perimeter & Area of Polygons
Circumference & Area of Circles
More On Decimals
Topics in Pre-Algebra
Data and Graphs
Introduction to Statistics
Includes worksheets and puzzles
|Grade Level||4 to 8|
|Real-world Context||Limited (eg Statistics section)|
|Sells||CD of whole site - around US$50.|
|Top 5 Keywords||help since 1998
our free newsletter
goodies interactive math
interactive math help
math goodies interactive
|Valid HTML||No (15 errors)|
|Comments||Has a popular newsletter.
Lessons are in HTML format and open in any browser. Most of the content is on the CD, not on the site.
|Content||"Play with numbers and give your brain a workout". Fun atmosphere.
|Who||"...teachers who are passionionate about math and technology"
No names given, no address given
|Top 5 Keywords||welcome to math
middle school students
elementary and middle games math
site for elementary math games
math word problems
|Valid HTML||No (22 errors)|
|Comments||Some good activities - but where do you input your function in the function example?
Claims to be a "safe site"
One Hundred Chart
|Grade Level||K to 6|
|Sells||Subscriptions for a greater variety of worksheets than the free version|
|Top 5 Keywords||math worksheet site
the math worksheet
single digit horizontal
5 minute drill
digit horizontal single
|Valid CSS||No (1 error, 19 warnings)|
|Comments||User is able to create printable worksheets (PDF) after choosing certain parameters.
Can this promote drill and kill?
6. Web Math
|Content||Has an online algebra solver. No content as such. Solver is optimised for:
Plots & Geometry
Trig. & Calculus
|Grade Level||K to 12|
No address given
|Top 5 Keywords||help you solve your math problem
lines the equation
data analysis finding
numbers number line
convert to a
|Valid HTML||No (4 errors)|
|Valid CSS||No (3 errors, 23 warnings)|
|Comments||Solver can deliver unsatisfactory results. For example, it will spend several lines to multiply 5 by a.
Also, how well do these solvers help students to learn?
7. Mega- Mathematics
(It seems this has disappeared.)
|Content||Difficult to determine from the home page. The topics in the graphic are:
The Most Colorful Math of All
Welcome to the Hotel Infinity
Games on Graphs
A Usual Day at Unusual School
Untangling the Mathematics of Knots
Algorithms and Ice Cream for All
Machines the Eat Your Words
|Grade Level||Appears to be for teachers - Contains lesson plans (that are devoid of objectives, context, year level, etc)|
|Real-world Context||Difficult to determine - doesn't appear to have|
|Who||"A project of the Computer Research and Applications Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory;
classroom teachers, mathematicians, students in education and computer science, elementary school and high school students, school administrators, computer scientists, parents..."
|Sells||Nil - government site|
|Top 5 Keywords||this is mega
is mega mathematics
|Valid HTML||No (4 errors)|
|Comments||Home page has unattractive image map for navigation.
Site appears stuck in a 1995 time-warp.
Takes a lot of digging to find anything - navigation is poor.
Purpose and audience is unclear.
|Grade Level||8 to early college|
|Top 5 Keywords||play with it
math while you
interactive mathematics math
interactive mathematics learn
mathematics learn math
|Comments||Interactive games and exploratory activities to enhance math lessons.
Has a popular blog and a newsletter.
See the 5 Comments below.