Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap………Boom!!!

Posted by Alison W on May 4, 2016

The idea that we bring computers into a classroom to aid learning is not a new one, technology is so widely available now and so easily accessible it seems inconceivable that we wouldn’t use this readily available resource to help teach and engage the younger generations. However how we do this is definitely a cause of debate.

Wolfram suggests that we use computers to make the computations, the hard work as it were and then through programming we can see and understand the mathematical methods and concepts involved. Thus cutting down on boring, tedious calculations that aren’t relevant in a real world situation. I am not sure I entirely agree. Although my knowledge of such things is not vast, I have yet to come across a programming language that is as straight forward and easy to comprehend as the written word. I know that this is an ever-changing field and things are changing/improving practically on a daily basis but I can’t think of a single example where this would be straight forward. Secondly I don’t think we should underestimate the simple pleasure of having achieved something and got it right under your own initiative.

I do however agree that it is counter-intuitive to teach Mathematics using computers as a substitute teacher – very much a Khan Academy trait. Don’t get me wrong I still think that there is a place for Khan as a tool, but there are many things wrong with it too. I also feel there is a place for computers within the classroom, it is something that as teachers we will have to embrace, after all technology is an embedded part of society and everyday living and will continue to be so, but to what extent at this point I really don’t know.

These ideas really hark back to task one and Sir Ken Robinson talking about the need for change within our educational system. The world we live in is changing so much faster than it ever has before and it is imperative that the education keeps up, not just in Mathematics but across the board.

Again I found the information contained in Willingham’s piece fascinating. It is interesting that when asked about technology used within a lesson (in this case interactive white boards) students responded positively and enthusiastically, but when asked about the content of the lesson and what was taught were no more responsive than those taught without. A fairly simple technology one might argue but I think it clearly demonstrates that sometimes it is not what you use but how you use it.

The more I read and the more I see, whether it be Meyer and his ‘patient problem solving’ or the Khan Academy, or Pershan’s critical analysis of Khan the more I am convinced that there is certainly not a one size fits all methodology when it comes to teaching but also that as a teacher you must equally embrace the world around you. It is not possible to have a single ‘one size fits all’ style of teaching it is as important to be adaptable and never stop learning ourselves.

1 Comment

  1. MZwiers
    11 May 2016

    I completely agree with your last paragraph. We need to adapt and keep learning ourselves if we are to change with the times and help our students. And technology won’t be standing still, we have to expect lots more technological changes in the course of our careers.

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