Task 5 – Should technology change the way we teach?

Posted by Martha on May 5, 2016

If students walk into a classroom thinking “Maths again with Miss X, all we’re going to do is copy rules off the board and answer text book questions in our books,” they are going to be automatically disengaged. If, on the other hand, lots of different teaching strategies (group work, problem solving, computer based lessons, games, discussions) are used then students are more likely to get involved in the lesson and learn (hopefully!).

“The teacher must know what to do with it” – really hit the nail on the head for me. The technology is only as good as the teacher who is using it. Technology shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it, it should benefit the learning and come hand in hand with the material being taught. The last thing we want is for the students to be overwhelmed or confused further by multimedia. On the flip side, although children may not notice the technology having positive impact on their learning, it doesn’t mean it’s not. They may only have understood the concept being taught because of how it was represented with technology. If using computers or watching videos in the classroom is going to capture the students interest, then surely that’s a good thing? That’s not to say that technology should be used all lesson, every lesson (especially if the average time spent using technology by 8-18 year olds is 7.5 hours per day?!). I do find myself a little bit stuck though – should we be embracing the fact that children are so immersed in technology and using it to our advantage?

In regards to working memory – is there something we can do to help students improve their working memory? Is that learning? Are students who understand basic mathematical concepts more likely to pick up new topics? Pupils who know their times tables or multiplication methods are going to have more time & “brain power” to delve deeper into mathematical problems, rather than just doing sums.

My A-level teacher used Wolfram Alpha quite a lot. He used to ask us to draw how we thought a certain graph would look and then he would get the graph on Wolfram Alpha so we could compare and contrast with it and with each others. But if you take away hand held calculating and replace it with Wolfram Alpha, won’t that strip away any chance of relational understanding? As with Kahn Academy and other technology (Geogebra, Excel, Desmos etc.) I think Wolfram Alpha could be a useful tool in the classroom, to help engage the pupils & allow them to grasp different mathematical concepts. So, will I use Wolfram Alpha? I guess the answer is yes, if I think it will help my students learn and gain a better understanding of what I’m trying to teach them.

1 Comment

  1. pball1
    10 May 2016

    Good piece as always Murtha! Couldn’t agree more with the assessment that the teachers need to have the proficiency to use the technology available and if they haven’t then it would be wasted. Equally, a “better” teacher would perform just as well as an “average” one using technology if not better.

    I certainly didn’t have the technologies available when I was at school, and if I did I know for sure that I would have had many more WOW moments!

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