Over the last 20 years, I have worked with education technology in many different ways. As a teacher, I saw how much time it took to search for and learn about new classroom tech. When I transitioned to a district employee, technology continued to be a part of my job in a different way. During this time, I worked on a program that put a laptop into the hands of every student. And now, I’m helping to develop technology for other teachers.
Regardless of where I was at in my career, one thing has always stayed the same. I’ve always found that technology can be an incredible aid in both teaching and learning.
Getting the right tools in students’ hands
When you think about education, traditional images might come to mind. You may think of a student writing with a pencil or a teacher at the front of the class. But with digital tools, teachers can “flip” the classroom. Instead of standing at the front of the room, teachers can assist students as they use their digital tools. This gives students an opportunity to receive feedback from their teacher. It also gives them a chance to work together during class time and improve upon their learning. It even gives students the opportunity to view and become familiar with their next day’s lesson at home.
As a whole, digital tools help teachers rethink lesson planning. They also give students an opportunity to express themselves and work together. The key is, however, to get the right tools for students.
Within my district job, I worked on a program that would give each student a laptop. From the start, it was clear that the program had many benefits. Students could now use their devices across classes. Even more, they could access new tools and resources that would change the way they learned. It was not clear, however, how math teachers were expected to use this tech. After all, digital math tools did not yet exist in the everyday classroom.
The successful digital transformation of math
Without a math edtech tool, math classes continued to use paper and pencil. However, some teachers tried to bring digital aspects to the classroom. For example, they would write notes on a tablet and share their screen with their classes. While this was a different way of learning, it still wasn’t interactive. Digital math tools can give students the chance to speak, draw, or type math equations digitally. Students can also use these tools to engage with one another as well as their teacher.
The benefits of using an edtech tool go beyond flipping the classroom. Many other digital math tools allow students to hear math. This helps those with learning or visual hardships. It can also help those who learn best by hearing. Math is, in many ways, similar to a foreign language. It’s useful to nearly every student, for example, to hear the quadratic formula versus only reading it.
Digital math tools open opportunities for both students and teachers. They allow every student, regardless of learning ability, to work together in the classroom and find solutions as a group. Students and teachers want to maximize their time, and with these digital tools, they can.
The last year has changed the way everyone looks at education, and particularly how they look at math. When we return to a “new normal,” what will that look like? Teachers will most likely continue to use tech in the classroom. The benefits of doing so will be far-reaching.