The problem I’m trying to address is the lack of deep understanding of mathematics in many of my students. Students that leave high school with a surface understanding of it often view mathematics as a mysterious list of algorithms and formulas (ask somebody to name something from high school math and many will say “the Pythagorean theorem”). They also (I believe) struggle with college mathematics because their high school understanding of mathematics is weak and disjointed. They don’t leave high school as mathematical thinkers and then struggle when the difficulty is increased. I think carefully implemented technology can help students understand mathematics more deeply.
I’d like to put a tablet in each one of my student’s hands in order to increase three things that help students learn more effectively: writing, exploration and play, and feedback. If each student has a device they can write frequently and authentically (via blogging) and this helps students solidify concepts in their mind as they’re learning. Also, exploration and play are necessary to help students get a “feel” for mathematics as well as help them engage their preconceptions about ideas. With a tablet, today’s powerful graphing and demonstration utilities are in the hands of students. Last, technology is especially adept in providing frequent feedback via formative assessments. My aim is that students will leave me with not only a deeper understanding of math, but also a grasp of the methods and tools that led to that understanding. If I succeed they’ll not only leave me as better mathematicians, but also more effective learners.
(This is a project for my current grad class in the Master’s of Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. You can view my other projects here.)