Computer Mathematics – the new brand.
Robinson explained that, with globalisation, there has been a huge growth in learning platforms for students. In our article this week, Willingham strengthens this by stating that already by 2007 100% of British primary schools and 98% of secondary schools had access to at least one interactive whiteboard. The question is “Does the technology used within schools, help students to learn and understand mathematics?”
Little research has been done into whether computers are a benefit to students’ progression within the subject, and in the research I have seen there is certainly no consensus.
Willingham explains that technology may be effective or not depending on the material and characteristics of students and it is for the teacher to understand this and aim for a level of balance. In my opinion the classroom needs to be a varied environment to suit needs of all students and therefore computers have a place within mathematics, but to what extent I am undecided.
Willingham highlights that in order for technology to increase student engagement, it has to aid in presenting both challenging and solvable problems, a concept Wolfram supports. Therefore, I believe that when correctly integrated the use of technology could transform lessons and revolutionise Mathematics, moving away from a subject portrayed as numbers and formula. But, to make technology a success in the classroom relies heavily on the teacher and decisions they make.
Teachers will need to consider how they are able to use technology to show the maths problem in the most useful way. Careful planning will be essential for making the use of technology valuable to a student’s education. Teachers will need to become competent with a range of different software but this will be time consuming and I feel training needs to be given to teachers for this to become the way in which maths is revolutionised.
Wolfram seems to be creating a new brand of maths which allows students to focus solely on mathematics through the use of computers by looking into more in-depth ‘real life’ problems. For us as teachers we would be focusing our students on developing ideas, exploration of topics, rationale behind solutions and looking at connections with Mathematics to the real world. I feel this would become a great platform for future development of the students leading them into their chosen careers.
A further idea, shown by Wolfram through Calculus, is the idea that teaching advanced mathematics at an earlier age could be more easily done through the use of technology. This combined with problem solving ‘real life’ problems could change the stigma around the subject from a younger age with students less inclined to say, “Why do we do Maths?” “Maths is boring!” “We will never use this.” Something I have heard in classrooms far too often.
Looking at mathematics as a future brand, through use of computers, I wonder whether we already have our solution. Yes, computers have a place within mathematics but how should we be using them in the classroom? On the one hand there is Khan academy who uses the computer as a platform to teach online, giving a more traditional style for teaching mathematics, in a more instrumental way. Then the new idea from Wolfram, who uses the computer to explore mathematics through trickier real life problems, a more relational learning style. Could a combination of the ideas create the perfect medicine when using technology to teach Maths?