Different things

I had an interesting discussion at the Bring IT, Together conference with a friend.  He was running through a list of educational theories from over the years about how to use technology in the classroom.  He had arrived at an interesting conclusion that I think most people have – education loves their theories.

So, I shared my thoughts with him.  I’ve mentioned it many times here – there are only two things that you need to worry about with technology.

  • use technology to do things differently
  • use technology to do different things

Of course, there are varying ways to work within each.  

The first method is the easiest.  Instead of running to the photocopier, for example, to duplicate class sets of worksheets, just turn to making the worksheet electronic and then promoting yourself as supporting the paperless classroom.  Even more impressive, tell everyone how you’ve hacked education and your students turn into 21st century whatevers.  There certainly are times when this is an approach – but you can do better.

That happens when you do different things.  In that case, technology is an enabler that opens doors that couldn’t be opened using traditional approaches.  This is where it gets really exciting and technology delivers on the promise.

I found myself thinking about this as I was playing around with Photomath.  

Needless to say, I’ve been digging into old textbooks and notes to give it a test to see if it performs as promised.  My conclusion is that I need to take better care with my handwriting.  As I was playing around, I had math memories – looking in the back of the textbook for the answer to see if I got it right and then moving on.  Being called to the chalkboard to write my solution in front of the class.  

So, in education, where would it fit?

Use technology to do things differently

  • probably ban the use of the app because solving math by pencil is good for you
  • use it to check your answer

Use technology to do different things

  • unlike the answer at the back of the book, view all the steps required to solve the problem
  • use any time saved to determine just what the equations being solved actually mean
  • create your own questions to try and stump the application

Using the application reinforces the notion that mathematics can go much further than just getting the answer to a question.

And, for a real life solution, use it to get on the WIFI.

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