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Technology in the Math Classroom

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Introduction

The power of novel technologies has been deemed as one of the strongest forces influencing modern evolution and growth in math teaching and mathematics (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000). In education, technology has amplified the significance specific ideas, made topics and problems more accessible and also offered novel methods of presenting and handling mathematical information (Jones, 1996), and furthermore, technology has completely fostered novel fields of study.  However, contemporary research has revealed that, students learning is impacted by a multifaceted system: parents, teachers, cultural expectations, education beliefs and theories, students’ aspirations and interests, curricula, and technology amongst others (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000). The effect of these considerations can only be understood in relation to each other. Particularly, this is true for technology, as it partly clarifies why there is no universally accepted or single perception of the best employment of computers and calculators in classrooms (Jones, 1996).  This paper will focus on the benefits of using technology such as computers, ipads, and calculators amongst others in a math classroom. In particular, the paper will discuss the benefits for students and how it affects them and their learning both now and in the future.

Benefits of Using Technology in a Math Classroom and How It Affects Students and Their Learning Both Now and In Future

Current studies have shown that technology has influenced greatly how students learn in the classroom. Integration of technology in modern math classroom has revealed to be of great benefit both to the students and teachers.  Generally, technology has offered opportunities to choose problems from a wide range and moreover, provided ways in which such problems may be presented.  It is apparent that some problems are very difficult to be presented in a pencil classroom (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000).  Evidently, some lessons necessitate students to experiment with specific mathematical objects and see how they react (Jones, 1996). On the other hand, some necessitates visual representations such as diagrams, graphs, moving images, or geometric figures which respond to commands, questions and answers.

Computers usually offer interactive virtual manipulative in cases where physical devices are not available. Evidently, the employment of these technologies influences students learning. If the electronic or physical manipulative are properly designed and employed, they have the capacity of amplifying the array of problems that the student can reflect on and solve (Shamatha et al., 2004).  Computers offer a visual representation to students which provide them with a better way of understanding what they are being taught. This visual aspect allows students to visualize on shapes as they are able to see what they looks like. Computers are able to manipulate the 3D shapes in a manner that students can be able to look at them more clearly compared to the use of paper (Shamatha et al., 2004).

Curriculum is the main determinant of the kinds of mathematical ideas learnt and gained by students. Compared to calculators, computer use in a math classroom is deemed to offer students with mathematically rich, responsive environments for representing, encountering experiencing with, and reasoning about mathematical ideas (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000).  This is due to the fact that, sheer screen space allows for a wider array of mathematical ideas, with increased techniques of representing and manipulating them. In addition, this allows for a wider range of teaching and learning styles, providing such education settings as microworlds, and puzzles, mathematical programming environments, tutoring structures, geometric construction tools, and visualizations amongst others (Shamatha et al., 2004).

Studies have proven that implementing technology into mathematics curricula enables students to learn more efficiently and quickly whilst still keeping them engaged in what they are being taught (Jones, 1996).  It is true that, by lessening the stress on studying computational algorithms, sufficient time will be available for students to spend in learning mental arithmetic, problem solving, and estimation skills. Furthermore, the use of technology especially calculators has modified the nature and kinds of problems which are essential in mathematics, and in addition, has opened the door for novel techniques of investigating such problems (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000). Moreover, calculators are deemed to lessen the time needed to learn specific skills and solve problems and as a result, a large number of applications may be considered. The use of calculators inspires students who at some point may be discouraged by tedious computations; such students may be motivated to discover the richness of math.

Calculators assist students greatly in problem solving, pattern recognition, reinforcement of computational skills, and number use. Furthermore, calculators can assist tutors in teaching certain topics such as integers, fractions and percents, exponents, and area and perimeter. Implementation of calculators in the math curricula reduces time spent by students on tedious algebraic manipulations and pencil-paper computations, implying that students will have adequate time for problem solving, concept development, estimation and mental arithmetic (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000). New National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends students to make use of calculators for a number of reasons including:

  • Discover and experiment with a variety of mathematical ideas including algebraic and numerical properties, patterns, and functions;
  • Widen and reinforce skills including graphing, computation, estimation, and analyzing data;
  • Carry out tedious computations that frequently develop, whilst working with real data;
  • Get access to mathematical experiences and ideas that surpass those levels limited by the traditional use of pencil paper computations (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000)

The use of graphing calculators by students in a math classroom has proven to be very beneficial. For instance, students have more capacity to work more intelligently than when they are using the traditional manual method. This has been described as ‘students form an ‘intelligent partnership’ with the graphing calculators (Jones, 1996). According to studies, graphing calculators generally advances classroom dynamics, improves problem solving capacity, amplifies students’ confidence and enhances the understanding of mathematical functions and concepts (Shamatha et al., 2004).  When used well, graphing calculators do not pose any danger to students’ capacity to work out algebraic procedures or manipulations.

Graphic calculators assist students discover mathematical theorem, visualize problems, check the validity of the answers obtained, test hypothesis, and discover novel ways of solving mathematical problems (Jones, 1996). Furthermore, through the use of graphical calculators, students can be able to explore and discover various topics on their own. Scholars points out that, graphical calculators make easy the learning approach, and furthermore, converts a classroom from an environment in which students just sit back inactively listening to the tutor, to one whereby, students work hand in hand with other students with an aim of creating ideas and solutions (Jones, 1996). In addition to this, graphing calculators assist in advancing communications amongst students, and they provide a better way for students to generate better graphs.

With the rapid technological growth, incorporating technology such as computers, calculators and Ipad into teaching and learning mathematics is very beneficial for students in that these technologies provide variety and an efficient way of learning (International Society for Technology in Education. (2000). For instance, whilst learning probability in a math classroom, students can be able do spreadsheets in a more efficient way.

Although the use of technology in a math classroom has proven to be of great benefit, most parents and teachers feel that it may be of great harm to students in the future. They base their argument on the fact that most students tend to become dependent on the use of technology to a point in time that they cannot be able to undertake simple computations in every day life without the use of technology such as calculators (Shamatha et al., 2004).

As put forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000) technology advances mathematical learning and in addition it supports efficient mathematical teaching. Furthermore, technology can assist students learn mathematics; the graphic power of technological instruments allows access to powerful models, although most students are not willing or able to produce independently (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). The computational capability of technological instruments increases the array of problems available to students and furthermore, allows them to carry out routine processes accurately and quickly. This offers students with more time to conceptualize and model.

Conclusion

It is apparent from this analysis that, the use of technology in a math classroom is very beneficial for students. In education, technology has amplified the significance specific ideas, made topics and problems more accessible and also offered novel methods of presenting and handling mathematical information. Generally, technology has offered opportunities to choose problems from a wide range and moreover, provided ways in which such problems may be presented. Compared to calculators, the use of computer or Ipad in a math classroom is deemed to offer students with mathematically rich, responsive environments for representing, encountering experiencing with, and reasoning about mathematical ideas. Research has proven that the use of technology in a math classroom make easy the learning approach, and furthermore, converts a classroom from an environment in which students just sit back inactively listening to the tutor, to one whereby, students work hand in hand with other students with an aim of creating ideas and solutions. 

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