Technology is a fundamental tool for teaching and learning mathematics. It is a key enabler of continuous, lifelong learning, serving as a gateway to directly accessing knowledge and fostering learning. In the present day reality, Educational technology has provided an effective platform for achieving the implementation of Mathematics curriculum.
The importance of technology in facilitating the teaching and learning process has been increasingly recognized by the mathematics education community, both in the Australasian region and elsewhere. This growth has been encouraged by two noticeable movements relating to technology in mathematics education in the last ten years. Firstly, there has been an upsurge in the use of graphic calculators and computers.
Secondly, the instructional use of computers has been extended to accessing and evaluating information that is available on the Internet as well as to creating new information that can be used in the mathematics classroom.
Immediately ahead lies one of the greatest challenges regarding technology, that of rewriting mathematics curricula to incorporate the power of graphic calculators with built-in computer algebra systems. This growing trend towards helping students harness the power of technology for improving their mathematical understanding has also been accompanied by a concern among teachers and mathematics educators about the problems and issues involved in employing technology in the mathematics classroom.
The concept of mathematics
The basic part of mathematics which are addition, subtraction, measuring, multiplication, weighing, division, estimation, counting, buying and selling, notation, etc are continuously applied in real life every day. Dwan (2014) defined Mathematics as the study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols According to Gocken (2014) mathematics consists of the most routine activities and comprises some of the most significant functions of a human being’s day. He reiterated that a person uses basic mathematics at least once every hour of every day. These fundamentals form the starting point of teaching and learning of mathematics. At this initial stage the learner develop ideas about quantity, size, weights, area, volume, height, etc. The idea of estimation and approximation when properly taught and applied will help the learner on how to make the right choices in order to avoid waste. Economical and moderate life style is a sine qua non to a joyful life, mathematics implant the will power for cost-effective living. Mathematics has to do with critical thinking (Otikor, 2016) hence it sharpens the learner’s understanding and broadens his thinking abilities.
Educational technology is the use of both physical hardware, software, and educational theoretic to facilitate learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. It encompasses several domains including learning theory, computer-based training, online learning, and where mobile technologies are used, m-learning.
According to Gibson (1971) quoted by Unwin (1978), educational technology: encompasses the systematic application of people, ideas, materials and equipment to the solution of educational problems… The process by which the learning materials are selected or produced, by which the modes of communication are designed, and arranged in the learning environment, and the strategies by which human and non-human resources are utilized to improved the efficiency and effectiveness of education is educational technology.
IMPORTANCE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY IN THE TEACHING OF MATHEMATICS
Mathematics is one of the subjects that have experienced significant interaction with technology. This interaction has led to a number of impacts on learning and teaching of mathematics.
Use of technology serves as a motivation for teachers due to the positive outcomes achieved. Technology leads to teaching that is more effective and this leads to better performance for the students. Teachers are therefore motivated in their work due to these good results. Some research on the attitude of teachers to teaching with technology found that most experienced teachers, with strong mathematics backgrounds were at first half-hearted about teaching with technology (Pierce & Ball 2009).
This lack of enthusiasm for technology was the result of an assumption that using technology would not enhance student learning. However, this lack of enthusiasm is only temporal in nature.
Research indicates that while some teachers might express their reservations to using technology for teaching mathematics at first, these reservations do not last (Mkomange et al. 2012). As the students demonstrate good outcomes, a change occurs in teacher’s believes and attitudes. This leads to changes in teacher practice to incorporate technology in teaching the subject.
Technology fosters the development of a culture of effective teaching by teachers. When using technology, teachers are encouraged to broaden curriculum objectives, make use of more problem solving examples and utilize an inquiry-based approach to learning (Jurdak 2004).
The speed of doing calculations using technology also frees up time for deeper learning. A study by Safdar et al. (2011) on the effectiveness of teaching mathematics through technology as compared to using traditional teaching methods found that teaching mathematics with technology led to better academic achievements by the students. This suggests that technology use as a teaching strategy in mathematics leads to more effective teaching leading to an enhancement of students’ academic achievements.
Teaching mathematics with technology enhances the teacher’s ability to teach students about problem solving. Technology assists teachers in the construction of realistic complex problems in the class setting. These problems are modelled after real world problems that the student might encounter in real life.
By this means, mathematics uses problem solving to create contexts that simulate real life. Problem solving is an integral part of all mathematics learning and teachers are required to help students develop the skills needed to solve problems through the subject of mathematics (Mkomange et al. 2012).
Technology has been used to help cope with some of the “hard to teach” aspects of secondary mathematics. Students are wary of some mathematical topics such as geometry and trigonometry. In the traditional classrooms, teachers were often unable to make use of appropriate tools to simply the topic and foster student understanding.
Technology enables teachers to make use of learning aids that are designed to exploit the student’s visualization and modelling power to solve problems. Software applications such as Computer-Aided Design assist teachers to come up with simplified and interesting ways of teaching these hard topics in mathematics.
For example, some powerful 3D applications make it possible to manipulate solid geometrical figures such as cones and cubes therefore fostering understanding by the student. By use of such ICT tools, students will find it easier to comprehend the subject matter and they will be inspired to learn. Teachers on the other hand will be inspired by the positive outcomes from the students.
Teaching mathematics with technology gives the teacher more tools with which to offer instructions to the students. A critical role of the teacher is to explain different concepts to the students and ensure that they understand the material being presented.
Unlike in the traditional setting where the teacher was confined to relying on drawings and handmade models, technology offers a wider variety of teaching aids. Jurdak (2004) states that technology enables teachers to make use of simulations to better elaborate certain mathematical concepts.
The ability of the teacher to explain mathematical concepts is facilitated by technology. BECTA (2004) confirms that this technology contributes to the effectiveness of teaching by offering ways through which the teacher can model abstract ideas and concepts.
With countless online resources, educational technology has help improve teaching of mathematics. Teachers can use different apps or trusted online resources to enhance the traditional ways of teaching and to keep students more engaged. Virtual lesson plans, grading software and online assessments can help teachers save a lot time. This valuable time can be used for working with students who are struggling. What is more, having virtual learning environments in schools enhances collaboration and knowledge sharing between teachers.
Teachers will use technology appropriately and effectively in their mathematics classrooms if they are familiar and comfortable with the technology and, especially, if they have had successful experiences with the technology in an instructional environment. Additionally, teachers who are able to use today’s technology in the classroom will be prepared to learn and utilize tomorrow’s technology.
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