Multimedia PCs widely opened the possibility to prepare and use
notebooks containing dynamic elements (animation, video,
sound, simulations, programmed actions, ...). Combined with
the network they also lost their closeness -- their parts
can be located at different places (computers), sometimes they
are spread over the network and there is no clear boundary.
All the discussed possibilities are illustrated with examples.
There are several possibilities to produce a (mathematical)
notebook on a computer:
General tools: TeX, Word, Acrobat, Corel Draw, PowerPoint, ...;
Authoring programs: Asymetrix ToolBook, Macromedia Director, ...;
Special purpose programs: Mathcad, DERIVE, Cabri, Mathematica, Maple, ...;
These tools gave birth to desktop publishing and allowed to everyone to produce her/his own materials. The use of colors became cheap. Since the text stays in author's hands it is easy to adapt and to improve. The ease of multiplying the text by copying encourage the cooperation and interchange of materials.
The expansion of WWW after 1993 offered another possibility with its solutions (HTTP, HTML, servers, browsers, ...). Besides providing, by HTML, standard means for formatting hypertext and interactivity it also facilitates the availability and distribution of materials (documents, data, programs, multimedia), and communications among users (mail, conferences, chat, collaboration, ...). The WWW solutions, realized in HTML and extensions, offer several benefits in respect to the 'classical' tools and are becoming very popular among the authors of e-text materials.
ò xn dx = xn+1 / (n+1) Ø(p Ù q) Û Øp Ú ØqTo include complex mathematical expressions we can use figures (as in LaTeX2HTML) or solutions based on Java (see WebEQ). But, we can expect a regular solution in a near future (see MathML).
There exist programs to transform documents from 'classical' to web formats: LaTeX2HTML, HyperTex, W2CSS, PDFLaTeX.
Yes, hyperlinks and the use of multimedia allow us to produce fancier texts - often the materials found on the web are merely transformations of paper-text into a web form. But, the real difference is in the interactivity - ability of the netbook to interact with the user, to adapt to her/his needs.
Although the knowledge of programming is losing its importance in the use of computers, the old saying Most teachers are bad programmers, and most programmers are bad teachers is still valid also in new circumstances - and we have to add the artist to the group. There are some ways to bridge this gap. Professional production by a team of experts is reasonable for materials of broad use and is very expensive. The other possibility is the use of authoring tools by teachers ( WebTutor, HyperWave). Somewhere in between is a 'Lego' approach - to provide teachers with necessary skills and a large collection of building blocks (pictures, sounds, videos, applets, templates, ...) which they can combine in their own educational materials. For some examples of such blocks see: Quiz, Problem, Interactive Algebra, Geometry, Functions, Graph, Rules VR_Logo.
We expect that the 'Lego' approach will give in the following years a solid basis of blocks for the main mathematical subjects.