Saturday, January 7, 2012

Technology's role in Math Education - A preconference discussion

This year (2011-2012) NCTM is focusing on technology at their regional meetings and the upcoming annual conference in April. CLIME will once again be actively supporting this initiative. In Philly, CLIME will be exhibiting, presenting, tweeting and waving the Math 2.0 flag as much as possible. As a friend of CLIME I hope you will join us in supporting this initiative whether you are attending the conference or participating at a distance. Here is the first of a series of preview blogs leading up to the main event during the week of April 23rd - Mathematics Awareness Week.

NCTM writes:
The intent of this yearlong focus on technology is to help teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators expand their view of how technology can be used as a tool to [1] support effective mathematics teaching, [2] enhance mathematics learning, and [3] influence what mathematics is taught. (Source: Strand Goals & Overview)
What are your views on these three goals? I'll be thinking about my responses between now and the end of the conference in April and I hope you will engage me in a blog-style conversation by posting a comment. (See my reply below that I added on 4/2/12.)

Tech sessions in Philly
In my last blog entry I put up a one page “at a glance” summary of all the sessions in NCTM’s technology strand. I now have a more detailed version of the sessions here. Unfortunately, these descriptions were submitted last May and do not include any links to more information about the session or the speaker(s). The CLIME descriptions are at the moment (1/6/12) rather "boring" since I have not as yet invited the speakers to update their listing. (Since I'm on the list, I'll invite myself first. Check out my addition here.) So if you are speaker or involved in some way with the learn/reflect technology strand I invite you to review your session description and send me more details i.e. a photo, links to relevant websites such as your powerpoint (or other) presentation, blogs and especially links to your handouts.

If you are doing a technology session at the conference and it's not part of the tech strand please send me details as well and I will include you in my next listing.

Technology's role in math education
NCTM has posted 4 questions for folks attending the Strand sessions to reflect on and share responses at the debriefing session (#283).  If you have any comments, answers or questions about these questions, please share them with a reply.

Coming soon in future blog entries
  • There are a lot more technology related sessions than just the ones in the tech strand. NCTM has listed 99 sessions (if you search with the key word technology.)  I will have a dynamic version of those sessions and others that I find in my next entry.  
  • NCTM has a personal scheduling planner that you can use to make a print copy of the sessions you want to attend or download  the listing to your smart phone. Next time I'll share my experiences with using it. 
  • CLIME has sent a resolution to NCTM to present to the Affiliate Delegate Assembly at the NCTM conference. (See draft with comments in a previous post.) More about this later.
  • CLIME is planning an online event on April 23rd. Gary Stager will be “keynoting” with his presentation on “Electrifying Children’s Mathematics.” If you are interested in participating in this event please let me know so I can personally respond to you about it.
You can subscribe to receive CLIME Connections by email here.


  1. In thinking about the NCTM "three goals" listed above, I want to throw these ideas out there to begin the conversation with:

    1) A "yearlong focus" on technology seems wrong to me. It's as if NCTM is saying that "well, after this year, everyone will 'know tech' and how to use it", or worse, "this is the educational flavor-of-the-year, and next year it'll be something else". Unless NCTM is willing to go out and say that technology is fundamentally changing the way in which mathematics is taught, and that the entire 20th-century industrial model of mass education in this realm no longer applies, in my view they are just talking about window-dressing.

    2) I'm also skeptical about their third point, "technology...influencing what mathematics is taught". I'm sorry - didn't they sign off on the Common Core project? How did technology influence that? Where are SAGE, GeoGebra, WebWorks, Wolfram|Alpha, MathPiper, etc. in their vision? Where are the virtual laboratories in which students could "conduct experiments" and do meaningful mathematical explorations? NCTM, I think, is simply interested in how technology can take what mathematics is currently taught and "teaching it better" somehow.

    Final question: Will the atmosphere at annual meeting this year be one of self-satisfied consensus, or will there be those who will dare to say that, perhaps, there is real trouble in the paradise of mathematics education?

    1. In response to your first point CLIME has a resolution that they will propose at the Delegate assembly to do exactly what you suggest. (See previous blog.)
      Your 2nd point is also worthy of much thought and discussion. I look forward to more comments about this.

  2. NCTM has implemented our proposal. Read about the BuzzHub

  3. Math Awareness month begins... what I would like to focus on is the third point NCTM made in the quote above: Technology as a tool should [..] influence what mathematics is taught. What mathematics should be taught in the 21st century? Should some of our sacred cows topics take a back seat? My take is that the math topics don't matter as much as long as they are embedded in interesting contexts that engage students in learning; mostly through well crafted projects. This will prepare students to effectively deal with the challenges of 21st century life. Can we collaboratively build towards this vision?