Technology, ICT and Math Education
August 2010

Technology, ICT and Math Education

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Prof. Inder K Rana
Department of Mathematics
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
e-mail: ikrana@iitb.ac.in

Indian education system

The system of education in India is '10 + 2 + 3' model. Education is a state subject and there are 26 states in India. Each state has its own Education Board which is responsible for all matters relating to school education in that state. This makes the education system non-uniform. Indian education system is highly examination-oriented. The 'examination mentality' has had a strong negative influence on everything connected with education in India: textbooks, style of teaching, and teacher preparation. There is little scope for innovation and use of technology in regular teaching.

In the year 2005, the Central Board for Secondary Education took an initiative and issued a directive to all the schools affiliated to it (Figure 1.)

Mathematics Laboratory in Schools

  • Concept of Mathematics Laboratory introduced by the Board in 2002-2003.
  • Manual titled 'Mathematics Laboratory in Schools' published by the Board to give fuidelines and specimen activities.
  • Aim: To remove the fear for mathematics among chilren and to make the subject more interesting.
  • All affiliated schools were advised to start the Mathematics Laboratory for classes III onwards and integrate evaluation of practical competencies in Mats with the evaluation of the subject.
  • Board expects all affiliated schools to have their Mathematics Laboratories by 31st March, 2005.

Circular No. 03/28.01.04

 

Maths Laboratory and Internal Assessment in Mathematics

  • Maths Lab provides a conducive ambience for students to learn the subject in a joyful manner through practical activities and interaction.
  • Teachers need to pay attention to both the transactional strategies and evaluation strategies.
  • Simple experiments and projects will lead to the development of different skills like numerical, observation, thinking, analytical and so on.
  • Establishing a Maths Lab does not involve high cost.
  • Improvised aids using inexpensive material can be made.
  • Space required is also quite limited.

Circular No. 10/02.03.05

What Math Lab can achieve (CBSE)

However, there was no real effect of this circular as no support system was set up. Still, there is no attempt to include really meaningful technology inputs in math education as part of curriculum.

Role of technology in Math education

What is technology

What is technology? It can be summed up from the perspective of evolution, as:

 Slate  >  Sliderule >   Software

It has evolved from oral education and engraving on clay tablets / stones, to writing on palm leaves, to the invention of ink/paper and printing, to digital media in the modern times. Technology hardware: Hand held calculators on one hand and multimedia workstations on the other; digital class rooms on one hand and virtual class rooms on the other are some of the examples of technology playing a role in math education. ICT, Course distribution over the Internet, use of softwares like Maple, Mathematica, Mupad, Drive, GSP, Cabri, and so on, help to compute and simulate. Learning management softwares and evaluation tools are playing a vital role in making laborious tasks easy.

Technology in Math education

Education (more so Math education) is in the midst of a change driven by technological developments. Technology is entering many facets of math teaching and learning. Technology is a valuable tool in the teaching and learning of mathematics, for it has the ability to empower mathematics students as well as mathematics instructors. In some cases the use of technology is prompted by the methods that can help a teacher to do some jobs easily and in a better way. In others it is motivated by the belief and effort to impart instructions in a way that will help to achieve the learning goals of students. Integration of technology in education can also be because of non-academic reasons.

Technology supported e-modules

Aims

The aim of an e-module should not be to replace a teacher, but to support a teacher. An e-module helps in building intuition and developing independent thinking. Intuitions built at early stages help later in formalisations. Efforts should be made to present numerical, graphical and symbolic representations of various concepts so that a student has the freedom to choose one or more of multiple intelligences.

Recipe for an e-module

  • Select a topic.
  • Revise the basic concepts.
  • Give an example of the activity you want them to do.
  • Activity should involve observation, analysis of observation based on the concepts revised, conclusion and its justification.
  • Give a short quiz to test the assimilation of the concepts.

Positive aspects of technology use

Technology adds new components to teaching and learning of mathematics by providing:

  • Tools for visualisations/ illustrations.
  • Tools to do tedious computations in less time.
  • Tools to recognise pattern in a problem.
  • Helps to formulate conjunctures.
  • Tools to develop problem solving skills.

Technology Enhanced Learning, Visualisations
Visualisations can be developed manually (sometimes) or with the help of technology tools provided by calculators/computers. This paper will discuss in details with specific example to illustrate how visualisations can enhance the processes of teaching and learning. The visualisations should be used to:

  • Explore / Experiment.
  • Observe / Conjuncture
  • Convince / Prove
  • Extrapolate / Extend

Example:
Let a student be shown the following picture:

Given the information that in the first figure, inside quadrilateral is a square, students can be asked if they can draw any conclusions/conjectures about the geometrical shapes involved? It May help to look at the figure on the right hand side shows a rearrangement of the shapes in figure on the left hand side. May be naming the sides will help in thinking:

Does this enable students to think and respond? If still not, the following picture can be shown:

This should help to motivate most of the students to conjuncture:
Area of figure on left hand = Area of figure on right hand
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