Technology is changing the classrooms that we teach in, especially the math classroom. As with all change, change is hard and has many different challenges. I find it quite ironic that the word change in in the word challenge. This blog post will list some challenges to integrating technology into the math classroom with proposed solutions.
Technology Doing the Thinking
Technology helps to automate many processes and improve proficiency. One major obstacle in the math classroom is the integration of calculators. Calculators help students to solve more complex problems despite a deficiency in basic math facts, but then student struggle with their basic math facts. Calculators and other apps are now solving complex problems for students. (Heick) The debate here comes to how the calculators and apps are being used. Many teachers struggle and debate over the use of calculators for solving problems.
Solution: When using calculators and apps in the math classroom it is important for the teacher to discern the purpose of using technology. If the goal is for students to become fluent with basic math facts then students should not be able to use a calculator as the calculator would be doing the work for the students. Calculators are a great tool for exploring and graphing complex ideas. By using the calculator to automate simple processes students have the opportunity to collect raw data, examine multiple cases, and immediate feedback (Robyler, p.314, 2016). Calculators are also a great assets for special education students and student that struggle with basic math facts so that both my learning higher math concepts.
One of the greatest challenges and push backs to integrating technology into the math classroom is that many math operations are missing. It is challenge to type equation into Word without many extra clicks for formatting. Many online tools represent exponents as follows: a^3 which is very confusing for complex expressions. In some cases it is much faster to write the equation and symbols than to use some application.
Solution: As technology improves many applications have improved equation editors. A simple, yet not complete fix is to use an application that creates equation quickly and with limited mouse clicks such as Desmos and Wolfram Alpha. Then use screen shots and paste the pictures together into a document. I believe that many applications will start using a more accessible equation editor or the products that offer one will win out.
The Good News
Despite these two prevalent obstacles that benefits of technology in the math classroom far out weight the challenges. As technology allows teachers to easily store, share, and update resources teacher in time will not need to put as much work into some of the creating process. Teachers can also share in this process to lessen the work load. Technology in the math classroom allows teacher and students to do many things; Here are some examples as given by Roblyer
- Bridge the gap between abstract and concrete
- visual representations of concepts
- support problem solving
- communication with experts
- many resources (p.315, 2016)
Heick, T. (2012). 5 Problems With Technology In Classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/5-problems-with-technology-in-classrooms/
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education