Thursday, April 14, 2011

Research Presession 132: Research on Technology in Mathematics Education: Current Efforts and Future Directions

My last post was long, and I’ll try to be much more concise here. This session was particularly interesting to me, both in connection with my ongoing work with Sketchpad and with my current work on the NSF Dynamic Number project.

Steve Hegedus set the stage by using a beautifully composed slide show speculating about how technological change affects what his son (now 6) should learn in school, through the lens of what skills and qualities might be needed for his son to live a successful and satisfying life between now and his retirement in about 2070.

Nathalie Sinclair followed up with a presentation that involved classroom video to emphasize how teachers can use dynamic mathematics software to stimulate student conjecturing and to present students with cognitive opportunities not available using other media.

John Olive finished with a video interview of students exploring “scooting tick marks” (from the Dynamic Number project) to deepen their understanding of fractions, illustrating how a sketch initially used for one specific task becomes a generally useful tool for the student.

My overall takeaway from the session was that it brought home (a) the enormous potential that educational technology has to change what and how we teach, (b) the importance of research to help us figure out when and how to use technology effectively, and (c) the urgency to do so both wisely and quickly at a time when technology is rapidly changing both the world outside our classrooms and the future in which our students will live.

(Full disclosure: Professors Sinclair and Olive used Sketchpad for their work with students, and Prof. Olive is the evaluator for the Dynamic Number NSF project.)

(Shameless plug: I will be showing our Geometric Functions work from the Dynamic Number project in session 373 on Friday morning. Many Dynamic Number activities are freely available at


ClimeGuy said...

Any chance this session was recorded? I would love to be able to listen to it.

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Alex F said...

I am a secondary mathematics education major currently still working on my undergraduate degree. I am extremely interested in the impact of technology on students learning process. Do you believe there is a limit to which technology should be used in the classrooms? Also, do you believe there is technology applications are important at one specific age level more so than others? Thank you for the thought provoking issue.

Karen King said...

Hi Alex,
You should review the new book Focus in High School Mathematics: Technology to Support Reasoning and Sense Making (available at There will be a session at the 2012 NCTM Research Presession with all of the authors of the book on Wednesday, April 25th at 3 pm in Franklin Hall 7 ( Remember, everyone registered for the Annual Meeting can attend the Research Presession on Wednesday for free.