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OU Design & Technology Flexible PGCE Course Cloudscape

This cloudscape is for discussion about the use of new technologies for teaching D&T

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H Johnson
17 September 2010

This cloudscape has been created to allow anyone involved in teaching and learning of design and technology on the Open University Flexible PGCE Course to meet and share ideas, resources, support and guidance relating to the use of new technologies in learning and teaching.  It is not designed to replace course level discussions, but rather to complement them and add another dimension.

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Pierre Vigoureux
1:18pm 20 September 2010 (Edited 11:50pm 23 September 2010)


It is a trivial exercise to demonstrate the advantage of "technology" in teaching mathematics. For example, having a video projector displaying initially the questions to be solved in class, and then displaying the answers when the class has finished the exercise, gives the teacher more time to walk around and do informal formative assessment, then if time is spent writing out the questions on the board.

However, in the teaching certification course that I attend, it is implied that if I do not use certain aspects of the "technology", then I am failing to use it correctly. For example, using a teacher's interactive whiteboard only in a non-interactive mode. I disagree with this implication.

I see the issue of the usefulness of certain aspects of the technology as this: it is not necessary that "technology" either is better or adds to the learning process, but it is necessary that it does not detract from the learning process. And I see plenty of evidence in the classroom that it can sometimes detract from that process.

It is often true that a mathematician does not really understand the mathematics until he tries to teach it to someone else. What is really meant by this is that the mathematician had at first the intelligence to internally "verbalise" the pattern recognition, in the same way Pavlov's dogs internally verbalise "a bell means dinner time", and only develops the "connected" thinking when he is able to choose "meaningful" words to communicate with others. That this "connected thinking" then makes it easier to "solve problems" is a result of the "reorganisation" that he had to do to get the idea out.

Even when there are "advantages" in using "technology", they are not always as great as we make them. For example it may be an "advantage" for ME to write out before class the question "slide" and the "answer" slide, but this is more due to my fear of relying on students to check the answers to the questions in a textbook at the back of the textbook AFTER I say they can, or of them doing it BEFORE I say they can.

I have had successful "impromptu" classes where I covered the quadratic functions, and did not have access to a program like Descartes, which draws graphs of functions. So yes, it is "nice" to be able to draw a graph "precisely" so that students can see that the "minimum value" is halfway between the two roots - but the real utility of a program like Descartes is when the students use it to investigate for themselves - on THEIR own computer. The fact is that my rough sketches on an "ordinary" whiteboard, illuminated by a plain screen shot of graph paper, "modelled" for the student what their notes on quadratic equations should look like in their workbook - in a way that a slick and precise Descartes screen shot could never do.

My point is that I find most often that an "interactive whiteboard" is more for the teacher's benefit, not the student's. I "suggest" that in the "ordinary" maths class the most important "interactivity" is between the student and the teacher, and that in a maths class in an ICT room, the most important "interactivity" is the notes the students WRITE down, on PAPER. 

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