How Is Online Education Redefining the Maths Class?May 30, 2023
According to recent figures released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called America’s report card, in 2022 a mere 26% of eighth graders in the U.S. were proficient in key mathematics concepts.
For perspective, the eighth grade is considered to be one of the most foundational in a child’s mathematics journey. Concepts learned during the eighth-grade help students build skills critical to pursuing a rewarding career in STEM later in their lives.
Off course, this figure was greatly impacted by the hasty shift to online education during the pandemic but regardless, the figure should arouse worry. This is the lowest score attained by U.S. students since the early 2000s, a period that we should not be very proud of.
But even before the onslaught of the pandemic math students in the U.S. were consistently lagging behind their peers in other developing countries. The pandemic only aggravated and not created America’s math dilemma.
So, how do we go about addressing this dilemma? Contrary to conventional wisdom the answer lies not in less but more online education. The flexible, self-paced, and independent learning experience offered by e-learning should not be tossed away.
Moreover, abandoning online education would also mean abandoning the thousands of students residing in remote and sparsely populated areas whose only access to quality educational resources is through broadband connections offered by high-speed fiber ISPs like Smithville Internet.
Instead what America really needs is a fundamental re-definition of how mathematics is taught online. In other words, we need to redefine the math class.
Following are some of the techniques and accompanying tools and resources mathematics instructors can deploy to enhance both interest and productivity while teaching math online.
Aim for Curiosity Not Mastery
Unlike theory-heavy subjects like Geography and History math education does not rely on root learning at all. In other words, it’s not the delivery of the course content but how students get to engage with that content that instills math skills.
So, teachers should be looking to arouse inquisition and facilitate exploration because when it comes to mathematics what matters is how effectively your students interpret data and not how effectively they can compute it. After all, you are not making computers but individuals who can effectively use them.
One of the ways a teacher can do this is by pushing students to move beyond the course content. Teachers should introduce topics and provide students with links to online repositories of knowledge like Khan Academy and MathsOnline etc. so that students get used to learning about concepts on their own.
Once students have prior knowledge of lecture content teachers can then focus on fostering interactive discussions in the class to arouse curiosity.
One easy way of doing it is by asking students to teach each other. Students can be asked to pre-record videos or deliver live lectures to their class fellows.
Similarly, students can create test papers and assess each other based on their understanding, with supervisory input from the instructor. For those of you who have difficulty finding stuff online here are 10 Technology Tools For Teachers to Encourage Classroom Collaboration.
In short, every piece of information you can deliver during your class is already available online. So, why waste the time you have with your students re-inventing the wheel.
Moreover, pupils who get a taste of self-learning do not tend to limit themselves to learning courseware alone, instead, they tend to move toward more advanced topics. Be sure to closely engage with your students to facilitate them in their journey.
Focus On Practical Application
Ever heard a high schooler remark, “The only time you’ll need trigonometry in your life is during your high school math exam.” This phrase is worryingly common among students and points towards an extremely dangerous trend in American public schools, students do not consider math skills to be important.
It is easy to blame the students, but in my opinion, the problem lies somewhere else. Most instructors fail to create linkages between the math concepts being taught in class and their applications in the real world. And it’s fairly natural for students to be disinterested in learning something which they think will be useless to their development.
Instructors must take radical steps to address this weakness. Math should be taught with an eye on its practical implications. During assessments instead of asking students to regurgitate concepts and formulas instructors should ask them to explain their understanding of these concepts using real-world case studies.
So, for instance instead of asking students to spew out the formula for calculating the area of a circle ask them if they think that a single 10-inch Pizza is bigger than two 5-inch ones. Interactive online platforms like illustrative mathematics offer ridiculous amounts of content to help students engage with math problems in a real-world context.
Gamification or Game-Based Learning
Are your students spending too much time playing games instead of paying attention to what you teach in class, well there is no point in asking them to stop because they won’t. When education and gaming come face to face it’s gaming that wins every single time.
So, as the famed maxim goes, “If you can’t beat them join them,” the solution is simple, the gamification of education.
So here is how to use game-based learning for better student engagement.
Games arouse passion, a sense of competition, and adventure among students. Using games to deliver educational ideas, formulae, and concepts goes a long way in helping students stay awake during your class. And there is no shortage of such games to choose from.
Games like Buncee, Markup Hero, and Flipgrid help teachers break down complex concepts into storyboards making an otherwise dull activity exciting.
Similarly, puzzle games like Math Twister, Multiplication Touch and Math Tic Tac Toe deploy familiar gaming tropes to incentivize students to learn with laser-like hyper focus.
And lastly, games like Monster Math ask students to solve problems as they busy themselves with hunting monsters and saving princesses.
Simply put, now you do not need to worry about thinking about stupid puns to keep your students entertained during class, these games will do that for you.
THE LAST WORD
With the U.S. going through a proverbial Math crisis, teachers need to go all out to ensure that our children do not lag behind in STEM fields. Luckily, countless online tools ranging from learning resources to games are offering a new and improved way to increase students’ interest and enhance math proficiency. Instructors just need to keep up.