ICT in Maths

04 Aug

ICT use in Maths can serve a range of purposes, but here are the primary reasons why you might choose to use ICT:

  • To engage students;
  • To communicate ideas;
  • To simulate results; and
  • To model mathematical thinking.

Usually, any use of ICT in the classroom will be attempting to do many or all of these things, so there is obviously some overlap.

To engage students:

One of the buzzwords for engagement in marketing that is beginning to take hold in education is ‘gamification‘. Even though this sounds ridiculous, it is based on some compelling research, which looks at what motivates people to act (or in our context, what motivates students to learn).

Games based learning studies have suggested that learners feel more intrinsically motivated to succeed in games than they often do in education (that is not to say students cannot be extrinsically motivated).

The Khan Academy has received a lot of positive press recently for its attempts to bring some elements of gamification to its teaching of mathematics. It allows students to work through various lessons at their own pace, while providing some basic ‘game flavoured’ rewards. (Don’t underestimate this, though…it’s the reason I persist with Project Euler!)

Gamification can also be done very badly, particularly if it is not pedagogically authentic or not fun.

To communicate ideas:

We can communicate our ideas to students using various ICT tools, whether that is a platform like Moodle that allows us to host resources, or tools that allow us to provide our content in other ways, such as videos and podcasts.

Before we make our own instructive videos, though, it is worth knowing that the Khan Academy has also produced a maths tutorial on almost any subject you can think of. See their videos section for the comprehensive list.

The tools for making these ourselves are straightforward, too. You can borrow the simple FlipHD cameras from the library to record your own class lectures, or use screen capture software (like CamStudio or the screen recorder built into Smart Notebook).

There is also an iPad app, called ShowMe, that lets you sketch on the iPad and narrate as you do so. This could be used for your own videos or you could get the students to use it to show what they can share what they have learnt in their own way.

Hans Rosling’s talk about Gapminder and his attempts to enliven data for his students also shows another ICT solution for effectively communicating ideas:

Here is the chopped version.

Gapminder is free to use and is available to use online or as a software download.

To simulate results:

There are hundreds of math simulations available on the internet, and the only real problem is sifting through the sheer number of them to find the quality ones.

To my untrained eye the sims from PhET look good, such as this plinko probability simulation.

There are also sims available as flash objects in the Smart Notebook gallery for Maths, (but these need to be downloaded first).

Check out the link to various maths resources below for more sims and other maths related content.

To model mathematical thinking:

Using ICT to effectively teach mathematical thinking is the thing that most ICT proficient schools are currently struggling with.

Dan Meyer’s talk about improving Math Reasoning skills suggests that a FlipHD camera and a slight reworking of the text-book material can be a good way to start this process:

Here is the chopped version.

Dan Meyer also writes a blog in which he explores some of these ideas further and shares his favourite, re-worked math problems.


Simon Crooks Maths bookmarks – spend some time reviewing these and feedback to the group if you find something useful.

Twitter users can also follow the #mathchat hastag.

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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Staff Training


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