Effective Technology Use in Math Class
Utilizing technological resources in math classes helps instructors design effective collaborative learning experiences that encourage problem-solving and flexible thinking. Students and instructors can create their learning together in genuine ways that enhance mathematics learning when technology is strategically integrated into the curriculum, both content-specific and content-neutral technology.
The lack of access to educational technology that existed in many American schools was, until recently, one of the key worries of educators when it came to educational technology. However, a new digital divide has formed as a result of the reduction in that gap: It is stated in the revised 2017 National Education Technology Plan that many students are using technology as a tool for passive learning rather than participating in active learning experiences that foster student agency in today’s classroom.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTENT-SPECIFIC PEDAGOGY
Education professionals must, of course, possess pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), which is an awareness of best practices that are particular to mathematics, to design technology-infused experiences that promote active mathematics learning.
The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework is one way a teacher can use to evaluate the success of technology integration. When used in conjunction with other tools, this tool encourages serious educator thought on pedagogy, content, and technology not only as distinct entities but also as overlapping and intersecting realms.
A diagram showing the intersections of technical knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge is depicted in this figure.
Tpack.org was granted permission to reproduce this work in 2012 by the publisher.
The TPACK framework is comprised of the following components:
When planning to integrate technology into a class, for example, educators can consider the technical expertise that students will need, the mathematics subject knowledge that they will need, and the best practices for teaching both technology and mathematics. This procedure is critical because, if it is not followed, the technology may be integrated in a way that is pedagogically inappropriate for the teaching of mathematics.
USING PCK TO SPOT UNHEALTHY APPS AND WEBSITES
When selecting effective technological tools for the mathematics classroom, teachers begin with their understanding of PCK, or best practices for mathematics instruction, and work their way out from there. We are all aware that mathematics should not be based on speed or the ability to obtain answers quickly. Furthermore, timed fact testing is a well-documented cause of math anxiety, which can result in poor mathematics accomplishment as well as mathematics avoidance. Despite this, math apps and websites that emphasize speed and rote memory are freely available and widely used by students.
This type of usage of technology can increase feelings of dread and worry, and it can also transmit incorrect messages about the purpose of mathematics. Math is about delving thoroughly into a subject, recognizing patterns, and drawing connections between them. We must teach children to be automatic with arithmetic facts and math skills, but how we teach them to be automatic is also important. Putting too much emphasis on memorizing and not enough on understanding leads to a joyless, senseless type of mathematics that involves remembering a big amount of seemingly unconnected knowledge.
Besides that, technology that simply transfers a progressive release structure—the “I do, we do, you do” structure—to an online format is a sort of passive learning that deprives math students of agency and rigor while increasing their dependence on teachers. In other curriculum areas, the gradual release of responsibility approach is beneficial; but, in mathematics, the paradigm is ideally flipped to allow students the agency to choose which strategies they wish to apply and how they might solve problems.
The reason for this is that children should be encouraged to struggle with arithmetic productively. We need them to problem solve rather than simply learn to follow a prescribed set of processes that the teacher has laid out for them. More useful than memory is the ability to solve problems creatively, and this is the true labor of mathematicians. Our kids must have the opportunity to conduct actual mathematics if we are to successfully integrate technology into our classrooms to engage them in real-world situations.
Technology that promotes deep mathematical reasoning is referred to as “deep mathematic thinking technology.”
The employment of content-specific and content-neutral technology in the mathematics classroom can be beneficial when done correctly. According to research, content-specific applications and websites that focus on arithmetic learning through the use of virtual manipulatives are highly effective, and in some cases even more effective than traditional manipulatives in terms of learning outcomes.
The Math Learning Center, for example, offers a variety of manipulatives, including revenues, geoboards, number lines, and number frames, among other things. It is simple to utilize the apps and websites that provide these types of virtual tools, and they assist students in developing conceptual understanding and increasing student access to math resources.
Tools such as virtual whiteboards, handheld clickers, and student collaboration apps are examples of content-neutral technology. Student self-reflection is encouraged by virtual whiteboards and websites such as Explain Everything, which allow students to make their learning visible while also sharing and connecting ideas. These tools have been connected to higher-level student thinking and instructor inquiry.
However, content-neutral technology that encourages quick responses, such as handheld clickers, is related to lower cognitive demand, most likely because it is more likely to be employed in situations where students speak little.
TECHNOLOGY THAT FOSTERS DEEP MATHEMATICAL THINKING
The educational technology industry is swamped with new applications, tech tools, and gadgets, and in certain cases, instructors are rewarded for increasing their use of technology, regardless of whether or not this results in good math learning for the students in their classrooms. Technology has the potential to have a significant positive impact on student learning, but it should not be used to substitute teaching or neglect research-based best practices in mathematics education.
The technology that we introduce into our mathematics classrooms should be consistent with our beliefs that students need opportunities for discussing mathematics, creating and connecting visuals, analyzing models, uncovering patterns, and making generalizations as they progress through their education.
Before, putting technology into the hands of our students as our primary goal. Now is the time to take a step back and prepare for technology integration that will support healthy and productive mathematics learning for all students.