Friday, August 18, 2017

Tech Use in Math Classes Continues to be Minimal

This year's edition of the "Technology Counts" survey from Education Week found 74% of eighth-grade math students "never or hardly ever" use computers in class, and just 1% of students say they use computers in math class daily, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12. (more)

While the percentage of students who use a computer in math class at least once every few weeks has been steadily increasing over the past few years, 74 percent of eighth-grade math students report they never or hardly ever use computers in class. (more)

Every once in a while I come across articles like this that remind me that we still have a long way to go in order to get school districts to get their teachers to use computers in teaching math. When teachers are asked why they don't, they usually come up with at least one of these reasons:
  • Lack of of necessary equipment and/or software
  • Not enough teacher training
  • Preperation for testing doesn't allow for time to "explore" with computers
And thus the beat continues.

I recently got a copy of NCTM's Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices for Grades 6-8 hoping to see how the guiding principle of "technology as a tool" would be highlighted especially in this grade band where using technology can be so effective. But alas there was almost no mention of technology until the last chapter (which has the same name as the title of the book). There they indicated that technology should be used appropriately. Even in the video vignettes there were no computers involved only graphing calculators mostly sitting on tables and not used by the students. Clearly the focus of Taking Action (6-8) is about effective mathematics teaching practices without computers.

I can see value for using this book with teachers involved in lesson study or at the university level. I don't think very many teachers will use it as a guide for teaching because it's too much like a textbook for teachers learning how to teach math. Anyone agree or disagree with me? Let's have a "conversation" at #climetech.


  1. You have been working on solving this problem as long as I have been working on using computer science (coding) to practice problem solving. Retired now and keep trying to flip math instruction, but getting very frustrated. What are you doing to solve this problem? See and for my research.

    1. I enjoyed reading your blog! CS should rule the day. I tried to tell Matt Larson that Math education is NOT necessarily STEM education. (See But the powers that be at NCTM resist it (CS) as if it were a plague. I assume the new president-elect will not be any different than all the presidents that came before him. I talked with George Reese recently. His project involves using Scratch a great deal and he thinks that all the subjects will start to blend together and eventually schools will be hybrids and CS will become prominent. I like George a lot! :-)

  2. Hi Ihor, I wonder if there's a tipping point on this when phones and computers become ubiquitous, teachers are going to have to find a way to use them or be replaced by them?

    In some of the classrooms I visit, I see teachers in competition with devices. They lose. Unfortunately, what the lose to is of little educational value.

    My hope is that out of this dire situation we can create new contracts for learning with young people and adults to create better learning for all concerned.

    I like you too, Ihor!
    For those interested, you can see some of our stuff at