Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ch. 23 - Tech. in Math Ed

After today's discussion in class, I realized that teachers should not overwhelm their students with technology nor should they be too dependent on technology within the classroom. However, I believe that technology can be an extremely useful learning tool. It provides new ways for students to visualize the subject matter, especially when dealing with different dimensions, graphs, and shapes. By using technology, the teacher can reach out to more of his/her students with the incorporation of different learning styles. For example, when finding the volume of a cylinder, some students may be able to memorize the equation without ever visualizing the actual object. However, for the spatial learners, they may need to see that you first find the area of one of the bases and then multiply it by the height. These forms of technology will allow teachers to gear their instruction more accurately towards the specific learning goal by acknowledging each student's learning style.

When reading Pete Rubba's thoughts about online courses vs. face-to-face teaching, I found it hard to believe that face-to-face teaching would dwindle away so quickly. I feel that face-to-face interaction is something that cannot be replaced. I understand that Rubba was trying to stress how important technology is in education, but I feel he was to extreme on his assumption. I agree best with Bob McCollum and Kyle Peck's beliefs on the matter. When it comes to teaching a math courses, I believe that one of the most important aspects is relating the methods/concepts to the each student's learning style. It is important to go into further instruction with an individual student if they are having a specific issue. Unfortunately, students do not have the luxury of being explained in a different way when taking an online course.

I found it interesting to read about how technology has progressed over time and how it affects our limitations as learners. Technology provides simplified ways to approach complex material. Since technology has helped math progress tremendously over the years, I find it very important to use it within the classroom, but I know not to rely on it. When making those lessons using technology, it is important to know the capability of your students so it is not too simple or too complicated. Therefore, you can maximize each student's learning experience.

August 25th Reading

After some of the comments in class today about the difficulties we may face teaching with technology, I began to consider the possibility that technology may be harmful in the classroom. Could technology take away from face-to-face teaching? Will teaching students about the advancements in calculators make it hard to teach them the details of how to solve the problem by hand? These thoughts worried me. 

However, the reading for today turned my thoughts around. “Technology mediates learning” (Masalski, 348). The emerging programs and technology will only better the communication within the classroom. Especially with the development of wireless devices to instantly receive homework and see how the students are progressing. Even better, I realized that technology in math could help students learn the main and important concepts without having to worry about solving tedious computations. The math modeling programs will help students realize how math has real life applications and hopefully raise their interest in the subject. This chapter has made me very excited about teaching with technology!

Tech-Supported Math Chapter 23

While reading Chapter 23 of Technology-Supported Mathematics Learning Environments, there were several statements with which I agreed but also some which I questioned.

I definitely agreed with the idea on page 347 that technology allows for the study of different approaches to usually complex procedures by breaking them down into simpler procedures, and I believe that this is one of the most important benefits of technology in a mathematics classroom. Every student has different learning abilities, and technology can help students maximize their understanding by giving different approaches to theories and topics. However, I did not agree with a statement following this idea that suggested students should use a computer to factor polynomials before learning how to do so by hand. I am a firm believer that one should learn how to do procedures by hand first, otherwise it will become all too easy to overly rely on the technology and in turn develop a less-thorough understanding of mathematical theory.

I also agree with the statement on page 348 that it is "not the technology that makes the difference but rather how it is used and by whom." Technology is definitely only a mediator of knowledge, and I have always found that the way a teacher uses technology and other classroom resources to engage a class is the factor that makes the material either interesting or boring.

I also agree with the idea on page 355 that "many mathematics students have difficulty with the production of symbolic notation." I have generally found typing math symbols on a computer to be very difficult without the aid of a special program, such as Latex, and even then the task is still challenging. Perhaps the development of more technology in math classrooms will help to solve this problem.