Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Alas, Math.

In the case of the paperless math resources, I thought it was interesting that by-and-large in terms of integrating tech into math teaching (at least at the secondary level) the math folks seem so far behind the folks in the humanities. And that's hardly the fault of math teachers; rather, as many folks have pointed out, it's a problem with hardware and the ways by which we think about physically using a computer.

In a serious way, if you don't have a Tablet, you don't have the full applicability of tech integration to learning math.

Whereas in the humanities, typing itself is hardly a detriment. And the keyboards we use today are really no different than the typewriters of our past. Therefore, tech in the humanities was quickly and easily able to get into the business of creating hyperlinked text databases, encyclopedias, and online books whereas math teachers were left to struggle with the question of how to 'show work' via a keyboard.

And I think it's especially pertinent to note this advantage that the humanities have had whereas so often it is suggested to us that math and science lead the technological revolution.

Certainly math and science have been the developmental foreground for digital technology, but what are the most popular uses of that tech? A cursory look suggests that it's all about reading the news, sharing photos, and listening to music.

Journalism, Photography, and Music.

Hmm. I wonder how many folks would consider that triumvirate at the top of the tech revolution?

And (I know it's a loaded question, but what the heck) why then don't we give the same elevated position in education to journalism, photography, and music that we do to math?

Could you imagine what high schools would look (and sound) like if journalism, photography, and music were four-year requirements?

Here's to hoping the technicians designing computers actually catch up to the digital needs of math teachers and their students. And here's to the folks in the humanities and arts who are using tech in authentic ways everyday.


  1. I was really hoping some tool or piece of software would come from yesterday's post, but I suspected that the tools just don't exist.

    We need a tool that allows students to build equations visually, the same way they would on paper. The trick is going to be a GUI that is easy to use and only requires a mouse and keyboard.

    I have some ideas, and would be willing to invest some development time, but I would really like to hear other innovative suggestions from your readers. If you have ideas for Math software, Twitter them to @TechAtACC and we can start sketching something out.

  2. Another great post. Two comments:
    1. Regardless of what subjects we teach, the innovative and "authentic" ways in which many of us are incorporating tech were not necessarily obvious to us from the start but we realize that we are limited only by our imaginations in utilizing the tools that are out there. It's no different for math and science; the tech exists, they just need to find it!
    2. You touch on something important: cross-curricular content. Just as math and science teachers need to incorporate the arts in their instruction, those of us in the humanities must support math and science learning. For example, do creative writing and word problems need to be mutually exclusive? (Maybe students would be more engaged with word problems that are personalized and not about two trains!) Another expample: my Spanish students learn numbers in my class but will do so by practicing greater than/less than and negative numbers, skills a math colleague said many lack.

  3. It is a question of what you are used to seeing as notation. Programmers have been writing code that produces massive calculations using a keyboard. The keyboard is not in the way of math teachers.....it is the thinking that fails to realize the power of the tool and considers it cheating to use the hand held called the calculator.


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