You may have read my meta post Discussion groups to assist those self-studying or enrolled students (if you haven't, you probably should, though a quick summary is provided below).

Again, this idea grew out of the idea of a "MSE University" but it is not that, so please keep an open mind.

So, what is this idea? To summarize - groups of students with one or two advisors/coordinators/teachers/insert term heres that will meet with the students once or twice a week. They'll assign readings from a book, answer questions, discuss topics, and maybe give a quiz at the end. In other words, this is a formalized study group.

This idea won't work without volunteers!

If you're interested and would be willing to help with a group, please put your username and area of expertise in answer (it's a single answer because it would get really cluttered otherwise). Please also include the level at which you'd be teaching the topic (grad, undergrad, highschool, whatever).

To the students:

This idea won't work without you either. Interested students, please put your username and possibly topics of interest/experience level into the other answer (again, single answer to avoid clutter).

If you have ideas and suggestions, please put them on the other answer; thank you.

Our first class can be found here.

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    $\begingroup$ While I will soon be spending a couple years away from Math for personal matters, and thus cannot teach nor learn, I want to express how much support I have for this! $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2017 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ @BrevanEllefsen thank you =) I hope all goes well for you personally over the next couple of years. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2017 at 0:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ love the idea. hope the classes starts soon. Excited!!! $\endgroup$
    – Shobhit
    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Love the idea, can help a lot of people who don't have acces to university, for example, or just enthusiastics $\endgroup$
    – user370967
    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ To whomever's close voting - what the heck is unclear about this, and how is this not relevant to M.SE? $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2017 at 23:31

3 Answers 3


I am not a pessimist but I don't think this will work as intended.

Some problems that I see with this are

  • Differences in time zones.

I think people around the globe participate on this site. So it wouldn't be possible to find that sweet spot that will suit people living on the different time zones like people who live in US and China.

  • Differences in schedule.

Say the scheduled date for the meeting is on Sunday, it might happen that some people are unable to attend the meeting due to personnel issuses. They would now have to scroll up the chat to know what happened in the lecture. This is really troublesome in my opinion as the chat is not well designed to assist this, many a times when I scroll up the chat it becomes increasingly difficult to make head or tail of what is being discussed.

  • Lack of incentive.

I don't mean to speak bad of people but this does not have a lot of incentive for volunteers. For this idea to be sucessful the volunteers have give same amount of effort as they would give if they were teaching a real university class. This requires effort and in university people get paid for that effort, here they don't.

  1. Why would somebody spend their free time with strangers rather than friends or family ?

  2. Why would somebody do something at holidays or in free time that they got that holiday/free time from ? They might as well spend it on leisure or hobby work.


  • Teaching environment.

Not really a big point but I think it is hard to replicate the teaching environment of a classroom with a chatroom.

I think people can come up with more issues that I have highlighted. It is late in night and I am unable to think properly.

These were some of my concerns but I hope I am wrong.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Well, this isn't meant to replicate a classroom. Chatrooms are a lot like study groups; this is just a formal study group, with a teacher/coordinator to assist. As for the lack of incentive - M.SE doesn't have a ton of incentive either. People participate here because they enjoy it; ditto for this. Teachers may find it a nice way to test out a book or figure out how to explain something or just practice. There are already a few people who have listed themselves as interested in volunteering, and I think there will be more after the first "course". As for differences in schedule (cont.) $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2017 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ (cont.) students can make up work by reading through the transcript - what can be done is saving each meeting into conversations, which can be posted on the meta post associated with the site along with the next reading. That way anyone can make up or jump in midway through the course. Finally, differences in time zones. This is a great point, and the most difficult one you've brought up. I think that course groups will just be decided based on whether students are 1. interested and 2. able to make it. I think that while this may mean not every student will be able to do every course (cont) $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2017 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) whatever there's enough people for will be done, by which I mean - all the people on one side of the world (so to speak) can pick a time and get together for a course, and the same for the other side of the world. So while it's a problem, I think it will work out. This all being said, I really appreciate you voicing your concerns, and I'd be glad to talk about these and any others you may have more with you, whether here or in chat. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2017 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @heather I already said that using transcript is complete pain. About incentive, it is true that MSE does not have any incentive but it is also true it does not force people to use it on a scheduled basis. $\endgroup$
    – user450905
    Aug 28, 2017 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ @heather And how will you make sure that someone is capable of teaching ? You need to know there qualifications and stuff, which is not in some case possible as people might be reluctant to show that. $\endgroup$
    – user450905
    Aug 28, 2017 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ Your last comment to @heather is one of the major issues with any such initiative. As long as nobody assumes that the tutors here teach correctly, everything will be just fine. It's pretty much the same as with questions and answers on Math SE; some are just utter nonsense even if upvoted greatly. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @123 Assume pier review is a thing :-) $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2017 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ @SimplyBeautifulArt *peer $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2017 at 4:05

I'm interested in being a student!

  • heather - interested in learning anything I can =)

  • Blue

  • Mithrandir24601 - physics PhD student (note: I don't have a lot of free time)

  • nitsua60 - BS & MS mathematics (computational focus for MS); BS & ABD physics (nuclear); current HS teacher

  • 123 - I am in if somebody can teach me rigourous multivariable calculus.

  • Simply Beautiful Art - I'm interested in learning anything I can =)

  • Ahmed S. Attaalla-Also interested in learning anything.

  • NV-US - MSc mathematics.Interested in number theory, ODE, PDE, calculus, linear algebra, modern algebra, analysis.

  • Vim - BS mathematics with an interest in quantitative finance. I'm interested in anything that's not too algebra-intensive. As a prospective quant, multivariate statistics and time-series analysis would be particularly desirable for me.

  • mdave16 - MMath interested in learning anything vaguely algebraic, currently trying to learn category theory using Category Theory For Scientists, but would also be willing to go through more algebraic material such as ring theory or group theory.

  • bysshed - MMath graduate. I am interested in abstract algebra especially group theory. A reading group is appealing to me.

  • Donald Interested in anything, provided it is totally abstract.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hm, should heather and Blue add what they are interested in learning? $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2017 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ No one wants to learn abstract algebra. Meh :/ $\endgroup$
    – Xam
    Aug 30, 2017 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Xam I would like to learn abstract algebra but I am not sure if this thing is going to work well. $\endgroup$
    – user312097
    Aug 30, 2017 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @A--B, I would like to do some too, and although i'm dubious, I'm willing to give it a go. Perhaps we could find something together? $\endgroup$
    – mdave16
    Aug 31, 2017 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Xam, because i can only @ one person at a time $\endgroup$
    – mdave16
    Aug 31, 2017 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ @A---B I'm also not sure if this will work as is planned. Anyway, although I'd like to teach some basic abstract algebra, I realize that I'll be very busy until the end of the year :/ $\endgroup$
    – Xam
    Sep 2, 2017 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ @A---B it's people like you deciding to help that will make sure this project does work, fwiw. $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2017 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @heather When are you going to inaugrate it, i.e when are the "classes" are going to start ? What is the schedule ? $\endgroup$
    – user312097
    Sep 2, 2017 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @A---B the first classes informational meeting will be this Saturday at 22:00 UTC. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2017 at 12:46

I'm interested in volunteering!

  • Ruvi Lecamwasam - General relativity. This sounds like a cool idea, and I hope it picks up!

  • nitsua60 - I dunno... something? Have taught logic, intro set theory, abstract, linear, non-Euclidean, computational analysis, and chaos at undergraduate levels; anything at HS levels. Starting my (working) school year right-about now, so it's likely six or eight months before I'll have bandwidth to put anything together. But I'm intensely interested in exploring and experimenting with education and am willing to devote some time to this. (At the right time.)

  • Simply Beautiful Art - I don't mind teaching calculus. Not sure if I can teach analysis well, we'll see how that goes. =) And ofc, I'm always willing to teach googology to whomever is crazy enough to learn it.

  • heather - I'd be interested in teaching some very basic classes - highschool algebra I, for example - but anything much harder than that I would not be qualified to do. I'd also be interested in giving an uber-crash-course in the basics of quantum computing.

  • mdave16 - I'd be up for teaching ring theory or group theory. Anything inside abstract algebra I would not mind (at least up to undergraduate level). At a graduate level, I feel I could do it if nobody wanted to, but at a stretch.

  • $\begingroup$ A small note to all volunteers: please pop into this chatroom so you can be pinged. Thank you! $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2017 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ is this "study group" proposal still active? Discussion in the chatroom seems to have discontinued. $\endgroup$
    – Vim
    Aug 29, 2017 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Vim I will be able to work on this more on the weekend; believe me this proposal is still active. Right now I happen to be really busy with some personal stuff. Feel free to talk in the chatroom =) $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2017 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ thanks for your effort. $\endgroup$
    – Vim
    Aug 29, 2017 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ One problem, @heather Is that some very talented professors who teach any number of topics aren't necessarily going to volunteer themselves, but if asked if they would be interested in teaching xyz, will likely agree to now, or in the future. Self nominations "I'll volunteer" are not to be confused with ability to teach. And "I don't mind teaching..." is hardly even enthusiastic. Perhaps if I knew the other "volunteer" who will also teach in the proposed "Calculus class", I'd be more on-board. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Sep 3, 2017 at 21:45

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