Importance of using ICT in Mathematics

Development in technology has a growing impact on education and school, and it will probably continue to be integrated into school learning and practice. This makes it crucial to identify the several ways in which one can use technology such as computers and related technology in class. It is also important to understand the impact of using technology in education, as well as why it is advisable to use it. Notably, there is a strong connection between Mathematics and technology; thus, it is crucial to understand how ICT affects learning Mathematics at the secondary level.

The inclusion of ICT in learning Mathematics leads to new qualitative aspects. ICT is a crucial tool that teachers can use in teaching powerful and critical Mathematical concepts (Sang, Valcke, van Braak, and Tondeur, 2010, p.103). This would enable learners to get insight and proper comprehension of the concepts and apply them in problem-solving. However, a critical concern that arises is the manner in which these functions can be used and sustained in teaching and learning secondary school Mathematics. It is also important to identify some of the organizing matters, obstacles, goals to be obtained, and performance indicators of achieving particular educational goals.

It is also notable that development in almost all aspects of life depends on efficient knowledge of Mathematics and science. There is no meaningful and significant development that can be realized in any area of life without proper knowledge and skills in Mathematics and science (Barkatsas, Kasimatis, and Gialamas, 2009, pp.562-570). As such, countries that are focused on attaining growth and development have laid emphasis on effective teaching and learning of Mathematics.

In the educational systems of most countries, Mathematics is one of the compulsory subjects at all levels during the learners’ pre-university education. The importance of Mathematics prompts governments to ensure that the knowledge and skills provided in Mathematics are of high quality (Hayes, 2007, p. 385). Additionally, the primary rationale for the Mathematics syllabus in most countries is based on achieving one goal; enabling all young learners and citizens of the country to gain Mathematical insights, skills, values, and attitudes that they can apply in their preferred careers as well as problem-solving in their daily lives. Most curriculums have also developed a new syllabus to ensure that the skills taught meet the standards at the global level.

It is also notable that the Mathematics syllabus taught at the senior high school in all countries builds on the competencies and knowledge that were developed and acquired during one’s junior high school level (Hennessy et al., 2007, pp.138). At the senior high school level, the learner is expected to develop Mathematical skills that would enable them to use their knowledge in solving problems faced in real-life. Such skills should also enable them to undertake further studies and vocations that involve science, Mathematics, industry, commerce, and other professions. This highlights the reason as to why teaching math should be done in the best way possible and using the best tools available.

Unfortunately, despite the efforts that most governments make, Mathematics has not yet undergone any significant change in the manner in which it is taught and presented (Chai, Koh, Tsai, and Tan, 2011, pp.1184-1193). This is evident due to low performance and low achievement levels in Mathematics among most learners at both the junior high school and senior high school levels. Based on results from studies conducted in different countries, failure in math has registered a high rate in both levels of education. Such poor performance hinders learners from pursuing further studies in subjects that involve Mathematics.

Teachers also have a role to play in the performance of learners in Mathematics. This is because the mode of teaching and delivery of content determines whether or not the students comprehend the concept taught. In most educational systems, the mode of teaching Mathematics is teacher-centered (Prestridge, 2012, pp.449-458). In less developed countries, teaching and delivery are conducted through transmittal techniques such as chalk and talk and dominated by teacher talk. This means that students are entirely dependent on their teachers. This teaching approach is also characterized by its feature of confining students to use formulaic algorithms. Unfortunately, they rarely internalize and gain deeper insight into the concepts that they are learning in their Mathematics lessons (Kolikant, 2010, p.1384). However, teachers should not be blamed for such cases and approaches used; they were taught using the same approaches and that they are confined to using the same strategies. Learning other methods of teaching Mathematics could be a complex innovation to them.

Such situations require more reliable methods of teaching and delivery to be adopted. Students should be taught such that they gain skills that enable them to understand how they can apply the skills gained in real-life situations as well in their future professions (Petko, 2012, p.1351). This is achievable if learning is made less stressful; it also enables Mathematics to become meaningful to learners. As such, it is important that Mathematics teachers get sensitized and well-equipped so that they can offer opportunities to their students to enjoy learning Mathematics and become good at it, as well as applying the concepts learned to real life situations.

Research findings recently conducted in the field of Mathematics education suggest that the nature of learning and teaching Mathematics can be changed by integrating ICT in teaching the subject (Donnelly, McGarr, and O’Reilly, 2011, pp.1469-1483). Integration of ICT in teaching and learning Mathematics provides a focal point that encourages the interaction of learners, teachers, and the technology itself. This suggests that the use of ICT in teaching Mathematics supports the constructivist pedagogy; in this case, technology is used by both learners and teachers in exploring and reaching higher levels of understanding the Mathematical concepts taught and learned (De Smet, et al., 2012, pp.688-696). However, radical changes must be adopted and implemented if the use of ICT in teaching and learning Mathematics is to be effective; both teachers and learners must adopt and adhere to new roles.

My Aim

My aim is to support the use of ICT and other secondary school Mathematics teachers in making the transition from previous modes of teaching to the integration of ICT in teaching and learning Mathematics. My commitment is to provide professional training and development needs that will enable Mathematics teachers to integrate ICT in their teaching approaches and practices with ease. Additionally, my hope is that this report promotes enrichment programs for Mathematics teachers to learn how they can incorporate ICT in teacher training as well as using the technology in classes.

Overview of this Study

This report is aimed at contributing to the improvement of the approaches used in teaching Mathematics in secondary schools. It is also expected that the findings of the report can be applied by teachers and learners in improving both learning and teaching by making pre-service Mathematics teachers more cautious of the approaches that they use in teaching so as to help their learners in developing their thinking skills and comprehension of Mathematical concepts. The report also serves to improve the use of ICT resources by teachers so as to assist in bridging the gap that exists between the intentions of curriculums and the actual skills and practice.

In the following section, I will demonstrate how I have made use of appropriate technology to provide evidence of the importance that technology has on your students.  In this case, some of the appropriate technology that I have used include interactive white board (smart board in my first placement), powerpoints, excel, mathwatch, interactive learn website, and stop watch timer with projector controller, among other forms of technology. In my current placement, I use an interactive white board with stylus, desmos.com in teaching graphs, excel, powerpoints, mathwatch, maths mastery, pearson active teach website, accessmaths, mymaths, Corbett maths, hegartymaths, mathsmadeeasy, conquremaths.com, geogebra, plickers, visulaizers, math-it, transom.org, and YouTube. This section will also demonstrate how ICT is applied in safeguarding responsibilities for school management and teachers. The Brookfields’ critical lens will be used to critique the points raised by research.

Mathswatch

Mathswatch is one of the ICT tools that I used in teaching Mathematics. It contains various type of Mathematics resources such as videos and worksheets that are useful in teaching various concepts in Mathematics (Chisholm, 2012, p. 41). Some of the concepts include how to make and use powerpoints and spreadsheets in secondary Mathematics. However, such services are acquired through online subscription. As such, despite its efficiency, its use could be limited to schools and teachers who can afford the subscription fee.

Mathswatch also contains precise videos with their accompanying worksheet. The videos cover the entire GCSE Mathematics syllabus. The technology used in this approach has proven useful to learning for as long as I have used it. The videos cover all the Mathematics concepts and skills that learners should acquire (Chisholm, 2012, p. 41). They also demonstrate how to apply them in solving problems.

Its continued use in Mathematics class has translated to benefits to the learners (Chisholm, 2012, p. 41). For instance, it allows my students to use the available 1-minute, short videos when they have topics that they want to revise quickly. In cases when I present such videos and learners feel that it was way too fast that they could not comprehend the concept and skills taught, I let them watch the longer ones with the same concepts. In most of the cases, they watch during their leisure time and share their learning with the rest during the next Mathematics lesson. Watching such videos repeatedly has equipped learners with skills in solving problems such as integration in calculus, as well as geometry. There are also questions in each of the videos; they allow learners to test their understanding of the concept.

Notably, Mathswatch is one of the ICT approaches to studying and teaching Mathematics that have received positive reviews from researchers and users (Lee, Johnston-Wilder, and Ward-Penny, 2013, p. 113). The approach revises all the topics in the syllabus, pretty the same way that a teacher does on the board. The discs containing the videos have been prepared by experienced, skilled practicing teachers. This has enabled them to understand the best concepts and approaches to use to make the videos easy to understand and useful to learners. Additionally, the real exam questions in each clip enable learners to test and enhance their understanding of the concepts taught in a particular clip.

Interactive White Board with Stylus

I also use an interactive whiteboard when teaching. In this case, the common whiteboard is combined with various multimedia projectors. This, too, has proven to be another effective way of teaching Mathematics. I use it to project items onto the board (Warwick, Mercer, Kershner, and Staarman, 2010, p. 360). This allows my students to manipulate the images that have been projected by using stylus (electronic pens), or they can use their hands. Some of the concepts that I teach using this approach include geometry and algebra, and it has proven easy for learners to comprehend the concepts faster. For this reason, they can use the skills later in real life situations or when pursuing higher studies involving Mathematics.

Over the few years that I have used this approach since its introduction, I have established if forms the foundation of the cognition of learners especially when learning Mathematics. This has also been supported by research findings that show that students retain a high percentage of information in Mathematics classes when this form of educational technology is employed.

desmos.com 

This has also been critical in Mathematics lessons especially when in teaching graphs, excel, and powerpoints. It has helped my students in learning and enjoying learning math. This site contains various Mathematics tools (MacIsaac, 2016, p.509). They are either accessed in class, or students access them from the Internet during their own time. Some of the Mathematics tools available here include an HTML5 Desmos graphing calculator that is used by millions of Mathematics learners across the world. Notably, this HTML5 Desmos graphing calculator is free, and, thus, learners only need to access the site and enhance their learning using the calculator. There is also an Activity Builder on the website (MacIsaac, 2016, pp.509-509). As a Mathematics teacher, I use it in creating digital Mathematics activities and using them in teaching. I have established that the Builder is more effective, faster, and enhances skills better than teachers do when they create the learning activities themselves.

Mathematics mastery

I also use Mathematics mastery. It is an approach to teaching Mathematics that is usually accessible and engaging (Røykenes and Larsen, 2010, pp.697-701). It was first established and used in Shanghai and Singapore. The approach has also been designed such that when I use it in class, it promotes enjoyment and understanding of the concepts taught and improves the performance of all learners in Mathematics.

I used this approach because it has been designed in such a way that it enables me to present Mathematics concepts in a physical manner that makes them easy for the learners to understand. It also contains several ideas and methods of teaching, all in one approach to teaching (Røykenes and Larsen, 2010, pp.697-701). It also promotes understanding of the concepts due to the physical presentation of ideas and concepts. I use objects and pictures when demonstrating and visualizing ideas and concepts that are rather abstract. This is done alongside the use of symbols and numbers.

The advantage of using this approach in my teaching is that it enables me to explore Mathematical concepts using many different problem-solving and representations to equip the leaners with deep and rich learning experiences (Røykenes and Larsen, 2010, pp.697-701). Consequently, the performance of my learners has been gradually improving as I continue to integrate such ICT approaches in my teaching my secondary school Mathematics classes.

I evaluate the comprehension and understanding of the learners depending on their ability to present the Mathematical skill learnt in multiple ways. Additionally, the use of this approach has been crucial to my development as Mathematics teachers by enabling me to identify the best Mathematical approach to use, depending on the scenario (Røykenes and Larsen, 2010, pp.697-701). The same skill has also been passed to the learners. It also enables learners to combine different concepts in solving problems that are otherwise complex, both in real life situations and Mathematical applications. This means that it has promoted the ability of my students to apply the knowledge acquired in class in solving real-life situations.

Pearson active teach website

The website contains powerful teaching tools that are delivered in a rather simple approach and manner. It enables teachers to access crucial and effective teaching resources that they can use in their Mathematics classes, such as videos, eBooks, presentations, and animals (Ertmer, et al., 2012, pp.423-435). This way, it also enables me to customize my lesson plans and share them with the other teachers for suggestions on what more might need to be incorporated or eliminated from the plans.

The efficiency of this approach is that it allows me easily and readily shares presentations, videos, and worksheets with my students while learning in class. This has significantly improved the performance of the learners and the learning outcomes (Ertmer, et al., 2012, pp.423-435). Notably, there are various courses that are integrated into this service. It is also developed alongside the secondary school Mathematics syllabus to ensure that the approaches used are coherent and match the subscriptions that are used in different courses.

 

One of the advantages of using this approach is that it has enabled my students to build confidence in learning Mathematics and solving problems involving the same. The course used in this case also contains a similar mastery approach and unique title to the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) syllabus so as to ensure that the concepts and approaches used are consistent (Ertmer, et al., 2012, pp.423-435). This has enabled my learners to develop confidence in learning Mathematics and preparing them for further studies on the subject. The primary contribution of this approach to teaching Mathematics is that it supports me in planning, teaching, and assessing the progress of my teachers. It also equips leaners with skills in problem-solving and reasoning, as well as catering for all levels of education. Finally, the approach has provided plenty of extra practice to my students on all topics. This has enhanced their learning and comprehension skills in Mathematics, enabling them to apply the concepts learned in real-life situations.

AccessMaths

I also acquire resources and tips on effective teaching approaches from Access Maths. It is a website that was primarily created to promote storage and sharing of Mathematics resources and Mathematics games for teachers across all levels (Han, Hu, and Zhou, 2016, p. 46). The website is characterized by its well-structured and enjoyable Mathematics resources that significantly inspire both teachers and students in learning and teaching Mathematics. These Mathematics resources have enabled me to effectively engage my students within the concepts taught in Mathematics. This has been achieved by presenting the work in a way that makes the student excited and helping them in learning (Han, Hu, and Zhou, 2016, p. 46). As such, the resources have been significantly useful to me as well as the learners.

MyMaths

This is yet another website that has proven useful to my delivery of content to learners as well as their comprehension of the concepts learned in Mathematics classes. It is a subscription website that is used by schools in teaching Mathematics in over 70 countries and four million learners each year (Ng, 2016, pp.1-19). One of the features that I have found critical to teaching and learning Mathematics in secondary schools is that the website has adequate interactive online resources that are suitable for all learners regardless of their level of education. The site is also accessible at times of the day any day of the week. This has made it reliable for teaching my learners and referring them to the site to acquire more skills and knowledge and enhance their understanding of the concepts learned in class.

The content in these resources was written by practicing Mathematics teachers so that it could be used by both teachers and students. As such, the interactive bit of the site is that it listens to teachers and then responds to their needs (Ng, 2016, pp.1-19). Through this, it has responded to my challenges in moments when I needed to clarification on any issue in teaching Mathematics. I also consult it frequently, in as many times as I have an issue that I need assistance. It also considers all ethos in its approach, enabling me to acquire all that I need when teaching Mathematics and enthusing learners. Some of the ways through which it promotes learning include through the provision of interactive worksheets, lessons, and games. As such, I can effectively track the progress of my learners.

Corbett maths

This is also another site that has integrated ICT in its approach to teaching and learning Mathematics. It also aims at assisting learners to understand various topics in Mathematics through its provision of free video tutorials (Ocumpaugh, et al., 2016, pp.877-887). I download such tutorials and use them in class to help learners in understanding the concepts learned as well as ways through which they can use them in real life situations.

The site is also important as helps learners in stretching and challenging their learning capacity and comprehension of the concepts by providing them with puzzles and activities. I used these puzzles in class to promote the ability of learners to develop analytical skills. Notably, all these resources are provided at no charge. This is intentionally done to enable teachers and learners to acquire the resources regardless of their level and source of income.

Hegartymaths

This was established by a group of individuals who aimed at producing and uploading videos on YouTube with the aim of supporting their children in their studies and revision while at home. This implies that Hegartymaths aims at ensuring that learners get assistance in understanding Mathematics concepts when away from school (Ocumpaugh, San Pedro, Lai, Baker, and Borgen, 2016, pp.877-887). This was also based on the principle that a learner needs to interact with Mathematics concepts for several times before they can comprehend. In my classes, I have noted with concern that most students get frustrated when they fail to understand a concept while at home and it turns out that they have no reference material (Ocumpaugh, et al., 2016, pp.877-887). Fortunately, there are over 1000 videos that cover different units in the course outline. I also use videos in several ways in my classes when teaching. Other ways in which I use the videos is in such cases as extra revision, homework, and flipped learning. All these services offered have contributed to the understanding of Mathematics concepts.

Mathsmadeeasy

Mathsamadeeasy is another resourceful website that contains various Mathematics programs that meet the needs of learners and teachers regardless of their level of learning. I have been using the resources available, and the site had enough resources that match any need (Kryukov and Demichev, 2016, p. 15). As such, I can select my resources depending on the requirements of my students and the concepts that I was to teach. Additionally, the available programs that students can use from the website teach the Mathematics concepts in a clear and concise manner.

There are several types of software that teach different contents of secondary Mathematics. Some of them include software for teaching trigonometry, algebra, arithmetic, calculus, and many more (Kryukov and Demichev, 2016, p. 15). The availability of this variety enables all learners to benefit regardless of their educational levels.

Conquremaths.com

There are over 1000 Conquemath tutorials whose length was approximately 5-10 minutes. Such videos present Mathematics concepts by using a step-by-step synchronized audio and animation that had the capacity to harness their learning and visual styles simultaneously (Rohlwink, 2015, p. 52). One of the advantages of using conquermaths is that can use it either at home during my personal studies or when teaching my class. The videos are also easy for the leaners as most of them have become used to such methods of learning.

Geogebra

I also had an opportunity to use Geobra when teaching, depending on the concept or topic under study. I like using this approach when teaching because of its interactive nature. It is effective and reliable to teach concepts such as statistics, calculus, and geometry (Rohlwink, 2015, p. 52). It is also useful when learning the application of Mathematics concepts especially by learners in secondary and university level. I used it for both active, and problem-oriented teaching in school. Additionally, I ensure that my students have understood the concepts taught by fostering Mathematical discoveries and experiments when in class; it also allows them to use it for their perfection when out of school. It is also notably that GeoBebra has become common and popular among students because its interface is very clear and intuitive and it is divided into parts that correspond to algebra and geometry. As such, it has become a critical approach and tool that I use when teaching Mathematical concepts such as spreadsheets, geometry, algebra, and command lines. The view present on GeoGerba, depending on its divisions, enables learners to easily grab the concept and apply it to real life situations.

Plickers

Another tool that I use in teaching is plickers. Over the time that I have used it, I have established that it is a powerful tool that enables me to collect real-time formative assessment data without necessarily using student devices (Voris and Wilson, 2016, p. 26). During my Mathematics class, all that my learners need to do is to turn their cards so that they display letters A, B C, or D. I then use my quick-to-launch Plickers app in simultaneously scanning the cards via the lens of the camera. This approach to teaching has become part of the practical skills that learners need to be taught. It shows them how such principles as scanners in supermarkets work when invoicing them. Consequently, learning Mathematics has become interesting and easy to learners due to the integration of ICT in the approaches to learning and teaching.

Visulaizers

The use of visualizers has also become common in most cases. Similarly, I use visualizers in which I have a webcam that has been permanently fixed to my whiteboard and allows me to demonstrate various skills and concepts to the entire class (Bacon and Ward, 2015, p. 42). In most cases, I use them when demonstrating a close-up technique that might be difficult to show to the entire class using other methods of teaching.

Other methods and approaches to teaching include Math-it and Transom.org. They have significantly enhanced my quality of teaching and the ability of learners to understand the concepts and apply them in real life situations (Bacon and Ward, 2015, p. 42). As such, I have also noticed since I started integrating these ICT approaches to teaching, Mathematics has become of the subjects that learners enjoy and appreciate applicability.

However, there is a need to critique the use of ICT in teaching Mathematics in secondary schools. This is done using the Brookfields’ critical lens (Trede and McEwen, 2016, pp. 15-28). This implies that the critique is conducted in four perspectives; self-perspective, student perspective, peer perspective, and perspective based on the literature reviewed.

Conclusion

Based on self-lens, I have found using some of the ICT approaches challenging at times. They require one to read manuals and follow steps so that they can effectively use them. Additionally, some take long to implement as they involve various steps that have to be followed. Based on student perspective, the use of ICT has made learning much more demanding and involving than it was without ICT. Despite the fact that it has enhanced the quality of teaching and understanding, learners are required to understand almost all new technologies that relate to learning. Based on peer lens, the use of ICT in teaching Mathematics has enabled learners to understand even complex concepts and developed critical skills such that they can identify the best method to apply in a particular real-life situation. As such, students also support each other in learning and understanding Mathematics concepts. However, the level of competition has increased, mounting pressure on some of the learners. Finally, based on the literature lens, studies have shown that the performance of students improves when ICT is integrated into their teaching and learning. However, it is evident that not all schools can afford to integrate ICT in their teaching and learning approaches. This creates inequality in learning. It also leads to some of the learners being disadvantaged. As such, despite the positive contributions of ICT in teaching Mathematics in secondary schools, there are still gaps that need to be closed by eliminating some of the challenges associated with using ICT in teaching Mathematics.

 

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