On Technology in Math
Open Invitation to the CLIME community
March 31, 2008
Last year just as the Salt Lake City (SLC) program committee
was about to meet, I wrote an email to Skip Fennell regarding my concerns about
technology at the annual meetings. Here it is.
My affiliate group CLIME celebrated their 20th anniversary
at their annual meeting during the NCTM meeting in Atlanta in 2007. It’s hard
to believe that it has been more than 20 years since Papert and Logo made such
an impact on our collective consciousness making us aware of the possibilities
that technology can have in math education. 2007 was also the first year in
more than a decade that there were no computer lab sessions at the annual
meeting. Many of my CLIME friends were concerned about the message this sends
to the NCTM community, namely, that computer workshops are no longer important
Since my participation on the program committee as the
technology liason (SF, 1999) the labs have always been for me an indication
that NCTM takes technology very seriously especially after technology was
declared one of the essential principles the 2000 Principles & Standards.
Unfortunately, NCTM’s technology principle starts to fade in its impact when
the vendors take over demonstrating the power of technology. In Atlanta Texas
Instruments once again was a dominant player in the vendor area and textbook
companies continued to roll out technology into their packages in a formulaic
After some reflection, I realized that discontinuing the
labs in their pre-Atlanta form may not be a bad idea after all. Maybe it’s time to focus on a more
relevant way of using computers in today’s (and tomorrow’s) classrooms so that
their use reflects current and emerging technologies. The computer lab model is
slowly giving way to a newer vision of how computers are used in schools.
Laptops and handhelds in a wireless environment are slowly making their way
into classrooms. The emergence of portable technology with the possibility of
every student having their own laptop will have a tremendous impact on the
teaching and learning of math in the coming years.
CLIME’s dream has always been to have a “strand” of sessions
at the annual meeting that demonstrates and lives up to the vision of the
technology principle. The labs were our best hope for that in the past. But now
with more universal wireless access to the Internet, laptops, handhelds, and Web
2.0 sessions at NCTM can embrace the vision of the technology principle in a
more unique and compelling manner.
My CLIME group suggested that it would great if we could get
a conversation going with the program committee about how the technology
principle can be promoted now that the labs are gone. Is this a possibility?
What other issues are there that the group might not have considered?
Thanks – Ihor
Skip responded positively to this email and shared my
message with the SLC program committee However nothing of substance
materialized. So now I’m looking forward to the 2009 meeting as a possibility
to make an impact.
I need your help in putting the Technology Principle back on
the map highlighting some of the Web 2.0 features that can be used in the
teaching of math. I’m heartened by the work of TPCK and want to see more
discussion of how it impacts future curriculums.
The technology principle needs an internal organization that
will continue to remind the NCTM board that the hope for the future is how well
we take advantage of the current and emerging technologies. I realize that you
may not be going to SLC or you will have other priorities especially if your schedule is anything like mine. I’m supposed to be
at the Affiliate Group Caucus at the same time I’m leading the session at NCSM.
So I’m planning to solve the problem by cloning myself!
I’m interested in any thoughts you may have on this matter
and what we can do collectively to have an impact in Washington. So on April 9th
I will be introducing a new initiative for CLIME 2008-2009 which will hopefully culminate in a useful
expression of our ideas. We need
our collective voices to be heard.