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Effective Use of Technology In the Classroom? 295

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-say-an-apple-for-the-teacher dept.
postermmxvicom writes "I remember in college I had one professor who, in addition to being a great teacher, really took advantage of the technology in the classroom to illustrate the concepts for Calculus and Linear Algebra. Well, now I am the teacher. I teach Algebra, AP Calculus, and Physics in high school. This year I have gotten a tablet and a wireless projector. Now I can write on my tablet instead of the board, as well as use other applications. I want to utilize this tech effectively for teaching. Would you please share how you have seen technology effectively used for Math and Physics — either specific software or how that software was used (specific or general)?"
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Effective Use of Technology In the Classroom?

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  • In my honest opinion (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would rather be taught with less technology when math is concerned.
    I just feel that the blackboard is a much more fluid and natural medium to perform calculations. Also, I've seen those ELMO contraptions be a severe distraction, either because of having to align lighting or because you can see the teacher's hand up close. I've heard kids deride one of my teacher's hand because she was old.
  • by fmobus (831767) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:28AM (#20448641)
    It is a interative screen-whiteboard with real-world physics. It's kinda hard to describe without a movie. [youtube.com]
  • Clickers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cuantar (897695)
    The physics department at my university has started using "clickers." They are small handheld devices resembling calculators that students can use to wirelessly answer multiple-choice questions an instructor poses via e.g. a slide on a presentation. After everyone answers the question and the timer ticks down to zero, the instructor can display a histogram of counts/answer.

    Individual devices are tied to students in that only one id number is allowed per device, so these are also useful for taking atten
    • by djupedal (584558)
      "...so these are also useful for taking attendence in large classes."

      "Ow can you 'aveny pudd'n, if you don' eat your MEAT??"

      May I also suggest attendance in another semester of basic English, if you really want that physics degree to mean anything :)
      • by feyhunde (700477)
        I, too, went to OSU physics and saw this being used well, especially in the engineering classes and the basic modern physics classes (with 200 and 50 students approx).

        I got a 580 on my Verbal GRE and I was on the extreme end of physics students. They not do good in English.

        It's really useful for speed of grading and for concept testing. Quick feedback for knowing that the class didn't understand the concept of, say, changing frames of reference. It's great because a professor can get everyone involved

        • by djupedal (584558)
          "A final positive use was the ability to do 3d and 4d moving graphs."

          So if I can explain the 'arrow of time' to 5th graders, so that they can go home and explain it to their filipana nannies...I'm in?
        • by Entropius (188861)
          I've often wondered about the mean GRE scores of physics grads. I'm at the UA and got a 790 verbal, which is apparently unusual. (But probably half of my class got an 800 math along with me.)
  • HIGH SCHOOL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scribblej (195445) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:29AM (#20448649)
    If my experience in High School still applies (and maybe it doesn't; it was a long time ago) you're going to turn out the lights to use that fancy gizno and half the class is going straight to sleep, the other half is going to be passing notes and shooting spitwads and paper airplanes around.

    I suggest you compliment the technology there with a pair of night-vision goggles or something.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:32AM (#20448667)
    I think a major mistake teachers make is to discover new teaching technology and then invent a curriculum that uses them. This gets the process entirely backwards. If you try this, you're going to sacrifice learning in the interest of playing with your new toys.

    You've got these new tools. That's great. Now forget about them. Design your lessons as you would. As you go, you're going to realize ... "this would work better if I can use my new gizmo." This is where the technology comes in. First find the problem, then find the solution.
    • by PhotoGuy (189467)
      I agree wholeheartedly. Programmers and tech types often see a cool technology, and try to figure out "how can I use this?" While there are cases where this works (R&D labs, etc.), in the case where you have a specific problem/job (teaching), then figure out how to teach best, using tools where appropriate.

      "If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail
  • One of the few things that I've seen that's been a good use of technology is using those in-class polling kits. You basically ask a multiple-choice question on a concept, then the class is polled. Once everyone answers, you can see the distribution and know what people were thinking. Can be useful to know if you're not getting an important concept over on the students and you know during class. The drawback is that it's limited to multiple-choice type answers, but you can require them to do a bit of wor
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tftp (111690)
      What makes the teacher think that one minute after he stopped talking everyone has captured and memorized everything? I was never subjected to such quick polls, and if I were I'd say "what do you want from me, I haven't had a chance to review my notes and to reflect upon what I just heard."

      Understanding of a lecture is not equal to memorizing it, and even the understanding is not guaranteed to occur instantly; some things you just circle and write on the margins "Where did this come from? Check with the b

      • by gomiam (587421)
        Understanding of a lecture is not equal to memorizing it, and even the understanding is not guaranteed to occur instantly; some things you just circle and write on the margins "Where did this come from? Check with the book." instead of interrupting the lecture for everyone else. The teacher won't disappear in any case, so you can always ask separately, but in my experience it is plain impossible that nobody else in your class knows the answer to whatever confuses me.

        Well, my POV differs, perhaps because I

  • by Twid (67847) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:35AM (#20448685) Homepage
    If you use OS X then the Apple Learning Interchange [apple.com] is a really good resource site. It has hundreds of teacher-contributed lesson plans.
  • by confused one (671304) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:36AM (#20448695)
    One way the tablet is better than a blackboard is that you can save a written copy of your lecture, and make copies available to the students. That way they can spend their time paying attention to the lecture, instead of rushing to copy everything down. This can make the class more interactive.

    The PC can be used, in general, to demo the physics and calculus principles through animation. It can be a useful teaching tool, just don't let it replace the hands on activities usually done in the lab portions of the course. Sometimes doing is better than seeing.
    • by bishop32x (691667) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:48AM (#20448801)
      It may be different for you, but seeing something up on the board doesn't help me learn. Graphics are great for illustrating a point, but in terms of equations and diagrams, I need to write it to remember it. Getting copies of the instructors notes just gives students a lazy way out, not a chance to participate more.
      • by gomiam (587421) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:22AM (#20450377)
        but in terms of equations and diagrams, I need to write it to remember it.

        In terms of equations you are not supposed to remember it (mostly). You are supposed to understand it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Arethan (223197)

          In terms of equations you are not supposed to remember it (mostly). You are supposed to understand it.

          Tell that to my high school trigonometry teacher. (Those were the days...) He expected everyone to remember every trig equation like they came up with it themselves. (And I mean ALL of them, not just the simple stuff.)

          So when I found out that he was allowing students to use graphing calculators on the final exam since, "they won't help you anyways", I spent the last week of class time slowly entering all of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by confused one (671304)
        You're like most people. It's how the brain works. We have to write it down or spend time "hands on" in order to learn. That's what the homework assignments and labs are for. There is a method to my madness...

        One thing that really frustrates me is when I am pressed to copy something. I've run into plenty of teachers who can write on a blackboard faster than I can on paper.

        If you're expending 100% of your efforts trying to copy the stuff down, you're not learning, you're transcribing. The key is
  • I've had a professor that makes great use of his tablet, mostly because the notes are already written when he gets there, and if someone has a question he can write more on the fly.

    This is at a post-grad level. I think high school math would benefit from animated examples.

    I wouldn't go too far into the technology aspect, though. Pencil and paper are the tools to learn math.

    The best math class I had was where the prof used contraptions he made out of springs and plywood to demonstrate differential equation
  • suggestion (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    I've always found it cool and educational when one can fiddle with the various factors in equations and see how it changes the shape on a graph. It gives one a sense of proportion and relationships.

  • sparsley (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bishop32x (691667)
    The problem with most of the technology is that it gives information too fast for most students. It's easy to whip up a whole bunch of slides, or pre-made note-sheets for a document camera, but it's much harder for the students to follow. When you're doing things on the board (I guess a tablet pc and a projector might work here) it's much easier to understand step by step process, particularly in derivations, when the instructor is speaking and writing every step of the way. In terms of tablets versus black
  • Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:42AM (#20448743)
    If you don't know how you're going to use it to meet your classroom goals, maybe you should be asking yourself why you intend to use it at all.

    "Because it's there" doesn't seem like a good reason for introducing technology into the classroom.
  • Two suggestions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposer@a l u m . m i t .edu> on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:42AM (#20448751) Homepage

    I have two suggestions. (a) if there are things that you find tedious (e.g. marking) or difficult (e.g. sketches, if you aren't a good artist), look for technological solutions to those so that you can devote your time and energy to more important things and won't get tired and frustrated; (b) don't focus on your new toys. Instead, think about what ideas and skills you have a hard time getting across and ask yourself how you could improve in those areas. Sometimes the answer will be something your toys are good for, maybe a simulation for an experiment you can't readily do, but sometimes it won't be technological. It might just be a better derivation of a theorem or formula or a clever diagram. If you focus too much on your toys, you run the risk of doing things that you, and maybe your students, find cool, but that aren't really of much educational value.

  • Animations and 3D (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zaph0dB (971927) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:44AM (#20448771)
    In my university days, I understood a lot of calculus by visualizing an animated sequence (mean value theorem, limits, derivatives...). Animation is a great tool for these things. Same goes for numerical analysis.
    Also (from the same days), linear algebra can be (often / sometimes) simplified to a 2d / 3d projection which can be displayed easily by a computer. Forget that you CAN'T draw in 3D or can't animate in 2D on the board - the computer can.
    And of course - physics, chemistry, geography, history - omg, history would be so cool to learn with a projector, if done correctly (not just clips - diagrams, arrows on the world map describing population movements, pressures, wars) - all of the "real world" sciences are much more fun when working in the real world. Even political science (if your school offers it) can enjoy the benefits of a projector, even if only as a video machine (watching Marting Luther King Jr. making his speech for example).
    However - I don't think that a projector is a "magic wand". It conforms to the equation "invest more time, reap more results". If you invest the proper amount of time preparing good material (and not only video clips), your students would enjoy it immensely.
    Just my 2 bits.
  • Would you please share how you have seen the professor you mentioned in passing, use technology effectively for Math and Physics lessons? Go into detail.
  • In college my calc professor wrote everything on his tablet and projected it on a large screen. Not only did it make it much easier to read then chalk but he saved the notes as a PDF and uploaded it to his website a few hours after class. I always took notes but sometimes I would miss something or miswrite something so looking at his notes helped a lot.
  • Sorry, not a math or physics example. I'm a beginning law school student, and the best use I've seen so far is by the TA in my criminal law class. The professor has put the TA in charge of the PowerPoint presentation (he's the only professor there to actually use PowerPoint that I've seen) and the TA has this tendency of putting up the answers to whatever questions the prof is asking when some hapless student is getting grilled to death (and this prof loves to grill students). The TA always has a little
  • by xPsi (851544) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:53AM (#20448831)
    As a physics professor, I often find myself asking the same kind of question. Sadly, I'm way behind you with your tablet and wireless projector, but you are definitely inspiring me with that kind of gear. Here are a few ideas:

    I try to use Mythbusters sub-episodes every so often as teaching tools. As most of us know, it's pretty entertaining and, while a little too seat-of-your-pants to serve as rigorous science, it definitely captures the scientific spirit and frequently inspires teachers and students alike. We'll typically watch some part of an episode, discuss the principles involved in the myth, and try and do some calculation related to the episode (e.g. number of ping pong balls to lift a boat off the bottom of the bay, terminal velocity of a penny, etc.). With your setup, you can nicely embed the parts of the video into a presentation then use the tablet to lead a real-time discussion of various topics of interest. As you probably know, there are many nice physics videos out there which can be used in this way. I also can suggest using a nice plotting calculator with your setup to quickly demonstrate ideas like Taylor expansion, Fourier decomposition, basic plotting, etc.

    There is some software available out there that will analyze video motion using basic mechanics tools (CM motion, rotational motion, vectors, motion diagrams, position versus time, etc.). You give it a few anchor points on the real video capture and can step it through the motion but with all the vectors and graphs superimposed. Although it is a cool idea, sadly, the version I tried was old quite clumsy (made more clumsy by the laptop/AV setup). However, with your tablet and wireless, you may have more versatility if updated software exists.

    There are several intriguing student grading/evaluation systems out there that use bar codes (for example, here [barcodeclass.com]). I know at a glance this sounds rather sinister and 1984-ish, but with student-customized bar codes (not tattooed on their foreheads, but rather printed on their papers), I think this can be used quite well to facilitate quick grading of quizzes with real-time feedback and histograms, class participation credit, and other creative classroom data organizing solutions. This could be made especially effective with the mobility provided by your tablet and wireless.

    Anyway, all the best with your pending projects.

  • You'd better be careful now. Carrying on like this will qualify you for Instant Sainthood in the eyes of many /.ers.
  • Wrong question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:16AM (#20448961)
    Asking "how can I use technology" is always the wrong question. Your goal is not to use technology, its to teach. The correct question is "How can I increase the amount my students learn?" or perhaps "How can I increase the number of students who learn?". When you look at solutions to this technology *may* be part of it, but it probably won't be.

    For physics, the thing I always found best was lots of real world examples. Don't explain mechanical advantage- set up a pulley system and let them lift a car. Don't explain pressure- show it to them by lying on a bed of nails without being cut. The more fantastic the example, the better. About the only thing that I ever really found technology useful for in physics was to show the effect of changing parameters in equations, and you can find plenty of java applets on the web that do that.
  • Blackboard is best (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blitz487 (606553) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:24AM (#20448991)
    Use of blackboards/whiteboards works very well. The prof writes the equations down as he explains them, and the students handwrite them into their notes. The prof writing them down keeps the focus on the relevant part, and the student handwriting a copy helps fix it in their brains.

    It ain't broke, and doesn't need fixing.
    • I have to agree with the idea that blackboards and whiteboards are great for the learning process, particularly in math and physics. As an engineering major at a large state university, I had to take all the usual high-end mathematics and physics classes - Multivariable calculus, matrix algebra, differential equations, finite mathematics, subatomic physics, etc. The same technologies you've described - tablet PC and projector - were available in all of those classes. Only a few professors decided to use
  • There are quite a number of options, but it can depend on what your using (OS wise). I remember using a nuclear power station simulator in physics once that was kinda kewl. But its been years since i was at school too. I would suggest searching on code.google.com, sourceforge.net and freshmeat.net. I know sourceforge.net and freshmeat both have quite a few visually based software packages that revolve around physics and maths.

    This might be a good example: http://freshmeat.net/projects/physics3d/ [freshmeat.net]

    The tricky t
  • None (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:38AM (#20449073) Journal
    I find it stunning (and disturbing) that there is this notion that adding tech to the classroom is by default beneficial. This idea is complete rubbish and the studies are starting to mount that show this (see below). Especially when it comes to the hard sciences and mathematics. We know that 'dead poets society' ruined a generation of english teachers. IMO, technology is ruining a generation (or more) of science/math teachers.

    I've seen exactly ZERO tech used in class beyond an overhead that was anywhere near effective whether high-school or beyond. Hell, even when I taught *C++* I used the white-board a significant chunk of the time. Also, in high-school, that cover of darkness can prove to be a bad choice.

    Powerpoint (and similar products) are so poorly used (I've actually /never/ seen it used properly) that they actually seriously detract from the class. In fact, people tend to do the exactly same nonsense with powerpoint that they do with the chalkboard i.e. write what they say. Yes, I can read, tell me/write on the board something I can't.

    There have also been studies on using tech with kids (look through /. archives for the links). The conclusions were that all this tech actually largely prevents learning because the kids are distracted by all the "shiny objects" rather than actually paying attention to the content.

    So, my suggestion is to put away all of you expensive toys (that are proving to be less and less effective as time goes on), pick up a piece of chalk and actually teach them. After all, when it comes to Math and Science, all you need is quick sketches to get the ideas across, now don't you.
    • Some, probably (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Selanit (192811)

      Obviously, adding technology to a classroom is not inherently beneficial. The mere presence of a bunch of transistors in the room will not improve the students' comprehension. But it's also a bit premature to dismiss it completely. Socrates strongly disliked the whole "marks on papyrus scrolls" technology which was cutting edge in his day -- which is why he never wrote anything down himself. We depend on his student Plato for our knowledge of Socrates' ideas. You and I, right now, are as close to the b

    • by gilroy (155262)
      Wow. No disrespect intended, but I think you're flat-out wrong. Physics is largely about how systems evolve through time, and the ability to render animations or quickly replot graphs is incredibly helpful in getting across concepts, both basic and advanced. Unlike many of the times I post on /. I can speak of this with some justification, as I am a physics teacher who's been using a smartboard for four years now.

      It's certainly possible to be seduced by the bright shiny objects. That's a far cry from "
  • Animations and interactivity are always great- Mathematica, Maple, or Python + Matplotlib can be handy for this. If you have access to fluid or electrical system modelling software too, great. Otherwise, there is not a lot you can do. At the end of the day, there is only one way to learn to apply principals: a combination of reading and examining the ideas, and examples.

    Some people have mentioned having the notes reproduced in PDF- I found I did much better in the university classes where notes were distrib
  • Hi,

    I trained as a physics teacher 12 years ago, and worte a couple of small applications for the studnets to use during lab sessions. They were basic sumulations, using line graphics, and Turbo C++. They worked quite well in the class, when combined with traditional labs as well.

    You can download the Visual Studio express editions for free, and it should be fairly easy to get something simple up and running. Just create a windows app, then drop on a timer, and use the events to drive an animation. Start with
  • by localman (111171) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:06AM (#20449209) Homepage
    I have learned more math and physics as a result of self-guided programming than I ever did in school. I remember a few years ago I was working on a simple vector graphics system for a video game I was making, and I finally understood the point of converting between cartesian and polar coordinates. Then I added physics to the program and picked up ideas like velocity along the angle of impact vs. the tangent. Recently I was working on a program to find color differences, and had to scale certain 0-1 values into a curve by using various exponents.

    These are all simple things that I should have picked up in school. Things which I'm sure were explained but without any practical (or even impractical) application. So I only had the vaguest recollection that they were even possible. But the moment I encountered a programming problem that I wanted to solve, yet required this kind of knowledge, I vacuumed it up.

    That may not be what you mean by "using technology" in the classroom, but it's what came to mind for me.

    Cheers.
  • Spam, pop-up, viruses etc. would be a major distraction and a source of amusement to your class, so I would suggest that the machine has very good virus and spy-ware protection and is NEVER used for personal Internet access or any education unrelated programs and stays off the Internet while running during your class (unless you must show them an online page in real time - save an offline copy of the page for the class).

    Remember, you will have some sharp eyed students in your class who will work out your
  • Educational research (Score:3, Informative)

    by enigma48 (143560) <jeff_new_slash@@@jeffdom...com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:46AM (#20449415) Journal
    I completed my teaching qualifications (Math and IT, high school) in 2005 and did a little bit of research into this. I'm sorry I don't have time to find links but here's what I found:

    * When small groups or individual students were given wireless voting devices and some of the lesson was interactive (i.e. "So, what does everyone think will happen when I drop this metal into water?") the students enjoyed and recalled the lesson better.

    * When *anonymous* brainstorming software was used, student participation is significantly improved. (Improved participation in general has been linked to better learning for decades)

    Check out the ERIC database, I think some articles are available with full-text and you can get some pretty cool ideas just from the abstracts.

  • From the lecture end: Realtime computer graphics can be useful for illustrating concepts that can't really be represented well in static drawings on a blackboard, especially those that involve time evolution.

    Solutions to Schroedinger's equation in one dimension, for instance, mapping XYZ to x, Re(psi), Im(psi). Then do time evolution to illustrate things like wave packets.

    Electromagnetic radiation is another -- computer graphics are useful for showing the fields produced by a charge moving in a particular w
  • I remember that when I was at school, teachers sometimes would use technology in a pointless way.

    For example, pointless way to use a projector: Take your printed/handwritten notes without graphs or drawings and project them. Might just as well distribute copies. Projecting is pointless when there's nothing interesting to see, and the time to set it up takes away from the class.

    Pointless way to use a lab: Get everybody into the lab, then tell them to open their books and study theory. Back then I was really
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      Schools often have limited space, thus the science department will use all of their allocated space to make labs, which then results in them having to do book study in those labs...
      At least thats how it was in our school, all the science classrooms were kitted out as labs but we often just did book studies there.
      The presence of chemicals and equipment in the drawers and cupboards under the desks didn't help class discipline tho.
  • This will cause flames, but it is the best advice.

    Since your TabletPC has 1GB of RAM and a very capable Intel 950 Video. The first thing you need to do is pick up a copy of Vista Ultimate or Premium. The pen and TabletPC support in Vista is years ahead of XP running TabletPC Windows. (You might want to upgrade to 2GB of RAM, even with XP the performance difference for TabletPCs is noticeable when it is doing voice or handwriting recognition.)

    Next get a copy of Office 2007 OneNote. It will be your new best f
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:00AM (#20449733)
    Hello,
        You have the misfortune of being a high school teacher. You are probably very limited in what you can actually teach because the course work must be all rigidly defined, especially now in the era on 'No Child Left Behind' and the federally enforced overemphasis on testing.

        You have the additional misfortune of being a teacher of a subject that all students must master to get their HS diploma but less than 1% will ever use in their future lives. I work on the margin of the tech industry and I've used high school algebra only once in thirty years. Had to sit through hundreds of hours of classes in it and hundreds of hours of homework which for me was like carving concrete with a teaspoon.

        For algebra (assuming for the sake of argument that it is worth learning), the best tool would be any program that allows the students to move the terms around the equation by clicking, highlighting, and dragging. Then the software should let them know if the resulting equation is equal to the original one. And if not, why not. Also, software that puts simple values into the x and y variables and quickly lets them know whether the equation balances or not. Plus an animated tutor program that shows the steps for solving complex equations. A program with hundreds of solved examples, not just two or three solved examples.

        For calculus, I recommend bringing a dog, a thermometer, and a gun to class. Shoot the dog and put the thermometer into it. Take readings over the next few hours to show how the heat loss of a recent corpse follows a specific natural log curve and how forensic pathologists use these formulas to determine time of death.

        For logarhythms, measure the distances between the frets of an electric guitar to show how each distance is 2 raised to the 1/12 power from the previous fret and how this formula makes possible tuned scales.

        If any of these things work, then consider getting a television show to teach math through iPod instead of in a public school.
  • risks and benefits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:27AM (#20449841) Homepage Journal
    > Would you please share how you have seen technology effectively used for Math and Physics.

    I'm both enthusiastic as well as sceptical (and wrote and talked about it [PDF] [harvard.edu]). Here are some major points for me:
    • Using technology is like telling jokes. Some people can deliver, other better do not.
    • Teaching is complex. Not everybody can handle the additional challenge of technology additionally to the organisatorial and pedagogical parameters. Most of us have experienced bad use of technology. I certainly have produced disasters myself.
    • It is often not the technology which produces the failures but the lack of a backup plan. Technology often fails. The advantage of the "good ol blackboard" is that it always works. Even white-boards fail when markers are dry.
    • Overuse of technology is like dishing up the same meals again and again. The benefits of technology can wear off, if the novelty is gone.
    • I use the rule of thumb: technology can improve a lecture by 20 percent, but adds the risk to losing 80 percent. This risk makes the use of technology exciting and worthwile.
  • by Ichoran (106539) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:42AM (#20449923)
    The key to using technology effectively is to not think about the technology. Think about how to convey information to students. How long does it really take for a concept to sink in? Actually doing math or physics is a skill; it takes practice (i.e. homework), and it is a process not an answer. If you can use technology to show the process in action at a speed at which students can absorb it, you are using technology well.

    Never use technology to avoid taking time to write something. Guess what? If you don't write it, they don't have time to either. And if you provide notes, then they won't even take the time to listen--why bother, your students will think, when I can just read the notes?

    What you want to do is take them through the process, slowly, with examples, showing how to do the manipulations and explaining why at each stage a decision is made. (If you have to deal with moderate numbers of students who no longer remember how to do algebra--and you almost certainly will--you may need to elect to leave them behind; if you have huge numbers of such students, you'd better go through how to do algebra again!)

    Here's one way that I've used a tablet to be helpful. You can start with a well-designed picture or graph, then draw all over it while you're explaining a concept. You can show a short movie of an interesting phenomenon, then dissect the process, e.g. by taking out frames and scribbling equations on them.

    One big mistake that people make is thinking either that computers are useless and shouldn't be used for homework, or in thinking that the fundamentals are useless and you should just teach people to do derivatives with Mathematica. It's a waste of time for almost everyone to do math by hand these days if they have access to a symbolic package. But they had better understand _exactly_ how the operations work and under what conditions they fail, or they're liable to have the symbolic package perform nonsense.

    Unfortunately, the biggest problem with teaching is that students don't come in with the right background. And a tablet can't fix that.

        --Rex
  • http://lowery.tamu.edu/Teaming/Morgan1/sld023.htm [tamu.edu]

    See if technology will allow you to move down the pyramid.

     
  • Applets... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:35AM (#20450179)

    The http://www.fi.uu.nl/wisweb/en/ [slashdot.org]">Freudenthal institute have a large collection of java applets for secondary/high school education. There's lots of others out there too.

    Spreadsheets also have enormous potential for teaching algebra concepts - particularly for getting over the idea of variables and functional relationships (after solving pages of simple "if x + 5 = 7 what is x?" equations, kids often get hung up on the notion that "x" is always a specific number...) Set up simple formulae in a spreadsheet, hide the formulae and have the kids reverse-engineer the formula... [1] Although a web browser might let you download a few :-)

  • by Dr. Faustroll (745092) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:49AM (#20450247)

    Congratulations: you've got some of the potentially most interesting classes to use technology in - but that potential will be wasted if you just use the tablet and projector to show Powerpoint slides.

    When you're designing your class, think: what can the tablet do that would be useful that could not have been done without it. Powerpoint fails this test miserably - an overhead projector would do just as well.

    Here are some possible uses that do pass the test:

    • Use symbolic math software to help students visualize the math, and to explore interesting problems that cannot be handled without it. Mathematica [wolfram.com] is everybody's pet favorite, of course - but I would argue that it's grotesquely overpowered and complex for most of what you'll need. Instead, take a look at something like Ron Avitzur's Graphing Calculator [pacifict.com] - the name doesn't do justice to what is a particularly elegant little program.
    • For Physics, use the tablet to analyze physical data. One of the best uses here is to film objects in motion, then transfer the video to the tablet (or get a cheap webcam and record directly on the tablet), and analyze the results frame-by-frame - your students will come out with a much better understanding of motion. A free package for video analysis is Physmo [sourceforge.net].
    • For more sophisticated experiments, check out what the folks at PASCO [pasco.com] have to offer - their sensors are reasonably inexpensive.
    • If you do a Google search, you'll find a wealth of Java applets that simulate concepts in Physics - when contextualized by discussion, physical experiments, and "what if" explorations, these can be tremendously useful. Without this framework, though, they are no better than the film loops of old.

    One last suggestion: don't hog the tablet - let your students use it too. You can set up a problem, and invite students to come up and work through it individually or in groups, showing their thought process to the rest of the class. The students will learn much more, and everybody - including you - will have a lot more fun.

    Good luck!

  • Chalk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Upaut (670171) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:51AM (#20450257) Homepage Journal
    My best professor, and by "best" I mean I actually learned the most from him then from a textbook, and keep the knowledge today, did not even use a whiteboard. He used white (or yellow) chalk on a blackboard. It was how he did it that mattered.

    * Come into class, place yesterdays work in front of him, sit down, copy the blackboard into your notebook. You have five minutes so write fast.

    *Professor flips the board. Five minutes starting now.

    *Spend the rest of the class discussing and explaining the facts in great depth. Professor points at someone every other minute and asks a question on the material. Asks hard questions. If you can't keep up in notes, you had better ask someone to copy, because he will not slow down. If you can't keep up in the critical thinking portion, get the hell out and accept a fail.

    * Professor handed out copies of that nights questions, due at the beginning of the next class.


    I was blessed to have that man's class twice in my life. Once in high school, the other in my junior year of college. I tell you, it was that man's pep that kept us awake and going, and his zest for the subject. It was highly infectious.

    And as for a textbook in that class? He thought that the point of the class was half facts, half how to think with the facts... He was the textbook. At the start of the first class, when he explained how each class was going to be until the end, he gave all of us a list of books on the subject we could read. Each one was a fantastic read, not a dull one among them.
  • by DavidApi (136128) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:41AM (#20450451)
    Chalk and board. Plus some props to demonstrate stuff. Seriously, computers don't _really_ help students really understand stuff.

    Physics? Nothing beats a good 'ol number of balls, rods, ramps, tubes etc etc in demonstrating how stuff works. Watching virtual cars colliding on the screen doesn't really make students appreciate the nature of momentum and conservation of energy.
    Chemistry? How does using some 3D software showing off molecules really compare to a good 'ol titration in the lab?
    Biology? Disecting a rat just beats reading about rat morphology any day.
    Mathematics? Take the students down to the beach and measure waves. Their height, period, variation in shape, speed etc.

    Computers and other technology is useful for analysing and summarising the data, but get the students out of the classroom to gather the data.
  • Assuming you're teaching a maths/science class.

    Use mathematica to display graphs, mutable by parameters input in various fields etc.

    It's a very good visual tool.
  • You can't ever beat a blackboard, all you can do with a projector is doodling and painting since yourt pixels are 0.5cm across.
  • Science and chemistry are best taught with simple devices, hands-on.

    springs, air cars, tennis balls, timers, rulers, bicycle wheels.

    beakers, scales, water, eyedroppers.

    Otherwise, the students will never get the feel for looking at the world with a critical eye. Your job is to make it real and accessible.
  • I just got an interactive whiteboard [smarttech.com] for my room, and I've been looking around for useful animations for the kids. Classzone [classzone.com] has a number of these, you just have to select the right textbook. I'm teaching in Maryland with the "Algebra 2 2007" book. If you choose a different book, you may wind up with the older version of their site. That's just a bunch of PDF's of the supplemental workbooks. Animations of concepts are the way to go I think. This is especially true when kids can manipulate the process t

  • I saw a a piece of experimental theater at Boulder Colorado last week called "Calculus, the musical". It has about a dozen songs and music videos sung by a man and women [ftmax.com] and progress through the chapters of a first Calc course. They play various characters such as Newton, Liebnitz and Hooke. It was amusing and good. They are doing cities too.
  • Collaboration (Score:3, Informative)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday September 03, 2007 @11:04AM (#20451911)
    Math is not my forte, but I hold an MA in Technology Education. The most imporant thing about using technology in any discipline is not to use it solely as a projector. Small group collaboration is the key to technology integration. Students work in teams, with technology being only a portion of the overall task. For example, there are before-computer-use task, during and after. Students need to know how to create algebraic symbols on the computer, which in it's own way, is a good learning tool that is only loosely related to completing the Algebra task, yet improves the technology skills of the student. Groups can work together to figure out the keystrokes ON THEIR OWN, with a little guidance from the teacher. Create a list of tasks, technology and math related, that must be accomplished by the teams. Create a rubric for each task that clearly outlines the quality expected for each task. Before long, students will forget they are even using technology, while at the same time they'll be learning how to use technology. And surprise, they'll even start getting the math part too!

    A great reference for better tech teaching is the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE)'s NETS standards found at iste.org

  • I teach physics. One classic use of computers in physics education is to help students check answers to their homework problems. Before computers, this was done by giving the answers to odd-numbered problems in the back of the book. Computerized answer checking can be superior to that in a couple of ways. With problems that have a numerical answer, many students tend to start from the answer in the back of the book, and then try to work backwards to figure out how they could get that answer; the result is

  • by tajmahall (997415) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:34PM (#20453309)
    As some see it, the main reason blackboards are used in math/physics is to get the teacher to slow the hell down. The only outcome of technology is teachers who fly through equations too fast for students to copy them.
  • by zolltron (863074) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:33PM (#20457409)
    The Physics Education Group at Kansas State University has made a set of tools [ksu.edu] for teaching quantum mechanics. Some of them involve computer simulation of wave packets, etc. This helps for visualizing the (rather complex) ideas behind quantum mechanics. I interacted with these tools while taking an undergraduate physics course (intended for non-majors). They really worked well.

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