Friday, January 24, 2014

Technology in the Classroom: Instruction Versus Supplement

Seeing as a new semester is upon us, lets get back to the basics and talk tech for the math classroom. Let's talk specifically about the use of some technology as a instruction versus a supplement. It is quite obvious that there is a wide array of technology available for educators in today's classroom. Schools are increasingly moving to one-to-one initiatives, implementing devices such as smartboards and document cameras in their classrooms, and expecting students and teachers alike to become more "tech-literate." These new pieces of technology can be categorized into two primary uses: instruction versus supplementation. Depending on the category which the hardware or software falls under,determines how the piece should be used. Instruction technology can be used by the teacher to teach students new ideas and spark connections, whereas supplementation serves the purpose to check for mastery by students and further understanding. Let's take a look at the two and when the line becomes blurred.

There are several great examples of instructional technology for the math classroom. For the teacher offering a flipped classroom screen capture software and video editors allow teachers to create lessons for their students to study outside of class. Videos and video sites such as YouTube, can offer instructors a way to reach students without traditional lecture. Several companies that develop hardware for technology pieces also develop lessons for their tech (SMART is an example of one of these companies). Software also exists (such as Geometer's Sketchpad and Geogebra) that allow instructors to manipulate objects such as graphs and shapes in their lessons.

Supplemental technology enhances the classroom experience. Most math games that students play on computers or tablets fall underneath this category. One of the largest types of software in this category is homework help/submission software. This may include such programs as WebAssign and iXL. These programs allow students to submit answers electronically and receive almost immediate feedback. Supplemental technology is fantastic in the math classroom, the danger comes when supplemental technology is used as instructional tech. We'll discuss this pressing issue in a later blog.