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 www.kcptech.com/dynamicnumber.)