Chances are that in the process of learning (or re-learning) mathematical concepts you will often find yourself in need of some clarification. That’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It actually means that you are absorbing something new and challenging. This can become an issue, particularly if you are self-taught and therefore don’t have the help of a “formal” teacher to give you authoritative answers. Sometimes you can find clarification along the way as you learn more about a given topic. Other times you are stuck with an exercise, but are still able to verify the solution with the help of a CAS. But what happens when you really have questions and you can’t find answers on your own?
Sure you can Google and with a bit of luck and skill find a helpful page. You may even decide to ask your question in a forum or in a proper newsgroup. However none of these resources are particularly interactive. There are many advantages which derive from a direct “realtime” conversation with other mathematically inclined people who are ready to provide assistance. There is an excellent Math chat that you can join if you want to ask for advice or get help on any mathematical subject. Below you’ll find the details needed to access it from your IRC client:
If you are new to IRC and don’t have a client, you can use this web based interface to access it. In general though I do advise that you get a good client and familiarize yourself with the system. These are a few free clients that I recommend:
Windows: XChat 2
Mac OS X: Colloquy
Be friendly and respectful, don’t expect to be spoon-fed, and you’ll find this an invaluable resource. Occasionally you may even spot me there. 🙂
That’s a great mIRC link. It can be hard to find the right server/channel with the right people on mIRC. Often most people give up when searching so it’s great to good to see links floating around.
Discussion Boards (Forums) have certainly overtaken the mainstream from the old days of IRC.
Thank you for recommending this IRC room!!
I was searching for help and was doubtful that a place to get live help that was both understanding, friendly, AND qualified… Well that sounds impossible, but it certainly exists on #math!
The channel has gone severely downhill recently, and mostly consists of people who just lurk in there all day, shooting off quips about those less informed than they are. In their opinion, the channel isn’t somewhere for help, it’s somewhere for people to discuss math.
Overall, don’t go there if you’re looking for a step in the right direction on a problem because you’ll either be ignored or the new butt of jokes.
I am disappointed in that place. I read the topic “do not ask if someone can help just ask your question” Which I don’t mind. It would save some time *if* the people in there were busy and aiming to help as many people as possible.
This is not the case. I logged in and asked the question I had to ask. After about 5 minutes of discussion I asked “can I get some help” because no one had even noticed. Low and behold they get angry at me for asking for help after I had followed the initial protocol! I was told “go draw pentagons or something” followed by a “you shoulda referenced your topic” ect ect ect.
It was pretty condescending considering they just flat out ignored me for 5 minutes without so much as a “oh well whats this in relation to”. I suppose its a great place if you want to talk about math with your friends. But, it was a waste of 10 minutes for me.
There are also a variety of other online sites that offer assistance sometimes free. Yahoo Answers for example is a good free site to ask any question. The problem is the commercial sites sell answers and the non commercial sites really are not interested in developing the student. Ideally an online tutor should work with the parents and the student in a manner that is consistent with the students long term learning interests. A coach as such can be a powerful way to advance more rapidly through the mathematics curriculum.