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Technology use in education?

  1. Dec 31, 2016 #1
    When I was a high school student education wars were raging over student use of basic calculators.

    What do you guys think about how much tech students should have access to in;

    Early years

    Middle school

    High school

    Undergraduate.

    I am primarily talking but not limited to math & science in particular physics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2017 #2

    jedishrfu

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    I think the tech should be introduced carefully even though the kids may have it at home. Elementary kids should learn to use crayons and pencils and to do basic arithmetic manually. Limit tech to art classes for drawing or creating collages by scanning in images and putting them together in creative ways.

    Middle school kids should have access to word processors, spell checkers and grammar checkers with programs that facilitate learning math. They should learn the limits and fallibilities of technology where it can lead you astray such as choosing the wrong when you've spelled it correctly.

    High school kids should use more involved technology such as programming CNC machines to do artwork and comparing it to handmade art to see the power and limits of these machines. They should use collaborative software in projects to master working in teams and getting ready for college and beyond.

    I liked the Khan Academy approach of assigning Khan videos as homework and doing problem solving in school where the teacher can use it to drive the curriculum instead of teaching theory and then having the student flounder at home trying to solve a problem.
     
  4. Jan 1, 2017 #3
    My sentiments as well.
     
  5. Jan 2, 2017 #4
    How has technology affected education? Why use it at all? How should it be used?



    Use it but use it wisely.
     
  6. Jan 2, 2017 #5

    symbolipoint

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    Early years: None. Nothing other than pencil and paper or dry-erase board, chalkboard, and any useful manipulative devices.

    Middle school: ordinary electronic calculator, or maybe a scientific calculator, but debatable.

    High school: This depends for which kind of student. Some exercises could be helped using something to make efficient computations but best not for remedial students. Scientific calculator, simpler electronic calculator, maybe slide rule for those interested, and maybe computer use if enough repetitive computations.

    Undergraduate: Whichever electronic calculator that seems useful or makes the work efficient including graphing calculator, and any computer use, like for designing programs. Statistics students would probably appreciate being able to use some statistical software application.
     
  7. Jan 2, 2017 #6

    Stephen Tashi

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    I see no reason that a classroom should exclude technology that students (and teachers) already use outside the class room. An exception would be courses designed to teach people the historical methods of ancient technologies.

    The use of calculators is obsolete technology for many kids. They use their smart phones as calculators.

    It makes sense to limit technology if there is some economic reason to do so - for example, if some of the student population lacks particular technological tools like smart phones, calculators, or computers.
     
  8. Jan 2, 2017 #7

    symbolipoint

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    The reason to limit or restrict technology for elementary school students is to make sure these students learn good Number Sense, and to ensure that they do not make poor decisions later when using technology like hand-held calculators.
     
  9. Jan 2, 2017 #8

    Stephen Tashi

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    If restricting technology ensures students learn good number sense then there should be many generations alive now that have good number sense. I don't observe that the general population of older people has any better number sense than the general population of younger people. I don't observe that people who use calculators a lot tend to have bad number sense. I do observe that people who frequently do numerical calculations develop a good number sense - even if they do those calculations with a calculator. Using a calculator reliably requires developing a good number sense because the manual entry of data is so prone to errors.

    As I mentioned, calculators are becoming obsolete technology. By the time there is a social consensus of how they should be used in education, using a calculator will be a skill that's in as much demand as the skill of using a manual typewriter.
     
  10. Jan 2, 2017 #9

    symbolipoint

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    Observe some people who must reach for a calculator to do any numeric arithmetic computation.
     
  11. Jan 4, 2017 #10
    Some good thoughts here.

    There is no substitute for having a subject matter expert available when practicing problem solving.

    Students usually need to learn to perform operations manually so that technology becomes a time saving convenience. Students really need to develop and maintain skepticism in the answers technology spits out. Technological tools should facilitate problem solving and learning. But real understanding and future tasks will require use of different tools.
     
  12. Jan 4, 2017 #11

    Andy Resnick

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    It's an interesting question that is still largely unresolved (the previous posts attest to that). From my teaching perspective, students should be able to use whatever tools they have available- as Stephen Tashi correctly notes, smartphones are ubiquitous and are used at the very least as substitute calculators. Back in the day, we used the CRC Handbook or Gradshtyen and Ryzhik, now there's Wolfram Alpha. There's not really a good reason to *prevent* students from using tools.

    On the other hand, it's also true that if a student does not know how to use a tool, bad things happen. It may be hard to believe, but many of my students (science and engineering undergraduates) can't use a calculator correctly- they apparently never mastered the order of operations. Both jedishrfu and symbolipoint provide a reasonable pathway of 'tool mastery' that could be included in the curriculum. The only part I would add to that would be inclusion of graphing/plotting/rendering.

    Of course, this presumes that students have access to the tools- and that is not a given. Never mind physical possession of a smartphone, I also mean having a computer at home that can run whatever software the schoolteacher assigns homework on.
     
  13. Jan 4, 2017 #12

    ZapperZ

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    The use of "technology" in teaching from my first-hand experience:

    1. The use of tablets in physics lab to eliminate the use of paper lab books. The students use free-form writing apps that allow them to use their finger or stylus to record their data, do a sketch, etc. on their tablets. At the end of the lab session, they send the PDF version of their lab notes to the lab TA, thus having a date and time-stamp of when they did the experiment, and the TA has a copy of what they recorded.

    2. Still in the lab, the students use PASCO's DataStudio interface to make measurements and to collect their data. They use different types of sensors attached to a central box, and this box interface with a computer, so that data are recorded and saved.

    3. The use of graphing software to analyze and plot data for presentation, either in lab reports, class work, term paper, etc.

    4. The use of online tools in Blended and Online classes. Technology has enabled remote learning, and in the case of physics teaching, while some aspects of it are still a bit tedious (try writing physics solutions using online editing and drawing tools), there are effective applications that allow for students and teacher interactions.

    Zz.
     
  14. Jan 5, 2017 #13

    Dr Transport

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    My two cents....

    I agree with the above response. To give some context, I am currently substituting at both the middle and high school levels, science and math. In high school, a calculator could and should be used in chemistry and physics and for some math courses, some not all, maybe calculus and geometry/trigonometry where you might need logs or trigonometric calculations. I wouldn't allow them in say algebra 1 where, they should be able to at least take a square root or divide simple numbers either on paper or in their head while say solving the quadratic equation.

    In middle school, I really have not seen a situation where they need a calculator for anything, and they are so lazy they won't even divide 4 by 2 to get 2 without a calculator. I have also seen where they are so intent on getting a perfect score on all their assignments that when I taught them to ESTIMATE a square root, they asked to use a calculator to do it so they ensured that they didn't hurt their little egos by getting a wrong answer and they looked at me like I had three heads and was from the dark side of the moon when I told them that they couldn't use a calculator on the skills assessment I handed them. They asked how they would know if they were correct without a calculator, my response was to multiply their estimate by itself to see how close they were. As an aside, we were only required to teach them to estimate to the 10th, so it shouldn't have been all that difficult.
     
  15. Jan 5, 2017 #14
    I think the challenge is in writing the assessment task.

    Correct calculation should be irrelavent if the student has not analysed the problem correctly.

    Conversely stated incorrect calculations are not that much an issue if the student has displayed understanding of the problem.

    Modelling mechanics problems is good for this, let them use all the technology they want, if they don't comprehend the concepts calculations will be irrelevant - let the technology do the calcs, let the student do the thinking.
     
  16. Jan 5, 2017 #15

    Andy Resnick

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    This is an excellent point.
     
  17. Jan 5, 2017 #16
  18. Jan 5, 2017 #17

    symbolipoint

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    David Reeves,
    I started reading the scientificamerican article about notetaking on laptops. Nice, very interesting. I did not finish reading yet, but I wonder if LEARNING to take notes on a laptop computer is something that a student needs some long adaptation time, like need to do this practice for a few months before he could learn well taking notes by laptop. Pencil/pen on paper is really more natural for us humans.
     
  19. Jan 5, 2017 #18
    Aren't most notes and presentations provided online these days??

    Back in the day students that could type sold lecture notes for a tidy profit.
     
  20. Jan 5, 2017 #19
    Intriguing question symbolipoint. Maybe it ultimately depends on the individual? I know some artists today habitually use a graphics tablet so all their art work is digitized. Maybe because they are very young and grew up with that technology?

    However, I agree with your point about what is natural. I learned to type when I was very young and it's now second nature. Yet I need to physically relax somewhat in order to do hard thinking, and I am always a bit tense when I'm using the computer. I think better when it's just me and my trusty pencil or pen and a notepad, seated in a comfortable chair, with perhaps a few actual hardcopy books within grabbing distance.

    As far as houlahound's question, when it comes to kids, I think doing arithmetic problems by hand or even mentally at times is the best thing. I favor lots of old-fashioned practice in solving math problems by hand. The first thing should be to develop your ability to use your mind on its own, without relying on any technology.

    If I had my own school, I would ban all calculators and computers for the youngest kids and severely limit their use among the older kids. Instead of screen time I would make them go outside and swim, hike, play softball, or whatever. Have them look through microscopes and telescopes, collect and classify rocks, and visit zoos and aquariums. Teach them how to take care of animals and how to grow vegetables or flowers. Also I would make them learn to build things, such as pieces of furniture, or engage in some other type of manual skill. Also teach them some music and how to dance. I think any of these things is much better for developing the mind than spending time in front of a computer screen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  21. Jan 7, 2017 #20

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    The calculation can't be correct if the student has set up the problem incorrectly.
    In my view an incorrect calculation is worth partial credit, but not full credit. Some professors/instructors are more hardline, though, giving full credit only for a correct answer with all work also correct.
     
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