“I’m petrified that we’ll apply new technology to old pedagogy,” Professor Elliot Soloway at the University of Michigan said…. “We are not exploiting the affordances of the new technology to give kids new kinds of learn-by-doing activities….What a waste!” (Cuban, 2012).
In this statement, we find the obstacles to integrating technology in the mathematics classroom. The question is, “Why?” Why are we applying new technology to old pedagogy? Why are we not exploiting new technology? The answers can be simplified as lack of time and lack of resources, but that only begs more questions of “Why?” Therefore, it might be better to answer the questions of “Who?” Who is responsible for these obstacles? That is an easier one. It is everyone involved in education.
Technology is ever evolving. What is capable today was not available when today’s teachers were going through school as a student (Dickey, 1997). For many of them, it is a foreign language and they feel comfortable with doing things they have always done. They have also developed ideals that are contradicted by technology in the math classroom. One of the major ideals they believe is that students need to be able to do mathematics without use of a calculator (Roblyer & Doering, 2013). Breaking through this barrier is necessary, but it won’t solve anything if we stop there. Even if we could get every math teacher in the world to become educational technology experts, we still face other challenges.
In the 1970’s, “New Math” was introduced. In the 1990’s, graphing calculators made their appearance. Both of these events had a commonality to them: professionally generated curriculum material came with them (Norris & Soloway, 2011). Math teachers did not need to re-write all of their lesson plans; they were provided new ones to use. Today, technology changes are coming so fast and without curriculum that the teachers are being overwhelmed. I personally experienced this twice in the past 5 years. First, when we received interactive whiteboards. We were provided a week of training on how to use them. However, designing activities was entirely left up to us. I dived in and tried to create constructive lessons, but quickly saw how much time it took and was forced to scale back considerably. You can imagine how the rest of my colleagues, who aren’t as technologically inclined, felt. Then, this past year, they introduced a new GED test. The test went under an intensive makeover from low-level skills on Bloom’s Taxonomy to one requiring higher-order thinking in Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. All of my lessons became obsolete. In this case, new curriculum has been developed, but it was not available until recently and my school has yet to purchase much of it. All of this despite the fact that we are four months into the new GED Test.
What are the solutions? Unfortunately, real solutions can only be accomplished at administrative level and require a complete reversal in educational philosophy. This does not mean that a math teacher can’t have any solutions to the challenges of integrating technology into the curriculum. The first step is to understand the limitations and work within them. Select technology that can be used for long periods of time and develop it completely to create an active learning experience for your students (Roblyer & Doering, 2013). Refine this technology before adding more. Expand your network by subscribing to blogs of like-minded teachers, where you can get ideas. If you don’t have the resources to replace your curriculum, look for technology to support your current one. Most importantly, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and look how good that turned out.
Cuban, L. (2012). Integrating technology into a math lesson. Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice. Retrieved from http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/integrating-technology-into-a-math-lesson/
Dickey, E. (1997). Challenges of mathematics teaching today. Retrieved from http://ed.sc.edu/ite/dickey/nassp/nassp.html
Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011). The 10 barriers to technology adoption. District Administration Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed., New International ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.