Information Age Education Blog
Dr. Jo Boaler is Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, editor of the research commentary section of JRME, and author of seven books, including What's Math Got To Do With It? Formerly, she was Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Sussex, England and a mathematics teacher in London comprehensive schools. See https://ed.stanford.edu/faculty/joboaler.
The purposes of this IAE Blog entry are to advertise a free online no-prerequisite math education staff development course she will be offering starting in July 2013, and to make a few comments about the course. I strongly recommend the course.
The following is a statement from Jo Boaler quoted from https://class.stanford.edu/courses/Education/EDUC115N/How_to_Learn_Math/about:
Cursive handwriting today is giving way to hand printing and word processing. A new type of communication is emerging called fingered speech, a term being used to describe the language/communication of texting. See http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/talking-with-your-fingers/.
I enjoyed the following paragraphs quoted from http://www.communityshoppers.com/headlines/is-cursive-history.html:
I find articles about research and development endlessly interesting. Recently I read an article about research on developing a new rechargeable battery to power electronic products and vehicles (Kelion, 4/17/2013).
The Kelion article reports on progress in making batteries that will have the energy storage capacity of current batteries, but will be only 1/10 the size. If the new batteries are made the same size as current batteries, they can hold ten times the energy. The new batteries also can be recharged much faster than conventional rechargeable batteries. This research and development work is being done by a research team at the University of Illinois. The article indicates that the research team expects to have the technology ready to try out by the end of 2013.
Wow! Suppose that the project comes to fruition, producing a safer, better, and perhaps cheaper replacement for conventional rechargeable batteries. That indeed would be a game changer. Imagine a cell phone whose battery lasts ten times as long as the battery in a current cell phone, and that can be recharged in less than a minute.
Quoting from National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (n.d.):
Learning and understanding mathematics, at every level, requires student engagement. Mathematics is not, as has been said, a spectator sport. Too much of current instruction fails to actively involve students. One way to address the problem is through the use of manipulatives, physical objects that help students visualize relationships and applications. We can now use computers to create virtual [computer-based] learning environments to address the same goals.
Initial funding for the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives project was provided by a 1999 grant from the National Science Foundation. This site provides a free trial subscription for Windows and Mac computers to its collection of virtual manipulatives.
You are probably aware of the movement toward online assessment in education. The Common Core State Standards initiative includes a strong focus on Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). Learn more about CCSS at Moursund & Sylwester (2013).
The earliest Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) systems included assessment features. In the very simplest CAL, learners answered T/F or multiple-choice questions. The computer provided feedback on correct and incorrect answers, and a cumulative record of a student’s performance.
It was easy to program such a system to make adjustments to the individual student. For example, if a student got six correct answers in a row, the computer could provide more difficult questions. If a student missed four questions in a row in a particular area, the computer could provide simpler questions or a short unit of instruction in that area.
When I first became involved in the field of computers in education, time-shared computing was just being developed and microcomputers were still far in the future. The transistor industry’s production of integrated circuits (chips) was expanding rapidly. I was quite optimistic that our educational system would experience substantial improvement through use of this wonderful new technology.
Gordon Moore was a co-founder of Intel and an insightful futurist in the computer industry. Moore's Law is based on his observation that over the early history (1958 to 1965) of chip-based computing hardware, the number of transistors in integrated circuits had increased in a systematic fashion. He observed that the number of transistors in chips had been doubling approximately every two years, and this is usually referred to as Moore’s Law.
The heart of a modern desktop, laptop, or handheld computer consists of memory chips and one or more central processing unit (CPU) chips. “As of 2012, the highest transistor count in a commercially available CPU is over 2.5 billion transistors…” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_count. Steady improvements in computer technology have decreased the price to performance ratio of computers had decreased by a factor of well over a billion since the UNIVAC I first became commercially available in 1951. Today’s smart phones and tablet computers have approximately the compute power of the multi million dollar super computers of 25 years ago.
Cell phones are now a routine part of the lives of billions of people. But that has been a long time in coming.
Willow, Abby (April, 2013). How Much Did the Original Cell Phone Cost? Yahoo.com. Retrieved 4/4/2013 from http://voices.yahoo.com/how-much-did-original-cell-phone-cost-7170468.html.
Quoting from the article:
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a major K-12 educational reform movement in the United States. The following free book provides an introduction to this initiative:
Moursund, D., & Sylwester, R, eds. (March, 2013). Common Core State Standards for K-12 Education in America. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education.
The book is intended for preservice and inservice teachers, parents, teachers of teachers, school administrators, politicians, and others who are interested in K-12 education. For another free book by the same authors, see Sylwester & Moursund (August 2012).
“They know enough who know how to learn.” (Henry B. Adams; American novelist, journalist, and historian; 1838–1918.)
In the IAE-pedia document Goals of Education in the United States (http://iae-pedia.org/Goals_of_Education_in_the_United_States) Goal # 6 focuses on setting and achieving personal goals. In brief summary, the goal is to help students:
- Learn to self-assess.
- Learn to take personal responsibility for self-improvement.
I rank this goal near the top in importance. It reminds me of one morning when I was sitting in my College of Education office and noticed a student wandering around outside my office. He looked a little “the worse for wear.” I went out and chatted with him. He indicated he had just pulled an all-nighter to write a long paper due later in the morning. He then commented that the first part of the paper was quite good. However, the second part was not very good because he was so tired when he wrote it.
“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” (Kofi Annan; Ghanaian diplomat, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, winner of 2001 Peace Prize; 1938–.)
The early part of my teaching career focused on teaching math and uses of computers to help solve math problems. I built on this background as I first began teaching teachers in summer institute programs funded by the National Science Foundation. At that time, the goals of education seemed clear and simple to me. They were:
- To help students learn some facts.
- To help students learn to think, solve challenging problems, and accomplish challenging tasks using the facts.
The teachers I taught soon taught me how naïve I was. As I moved more and more into being a math educator, computer educator, and teacher of teachers, I gradually came to understand the complexity of education and the wide range of goals that help to define our educational system.