Completing math on the computer is still not efficient. Trying to have students type math on the computer slows them down significantly. Using a smart board in high school math classes is also not efficient as the symbols written do not always translate correctly therefore there is a lot of redoing over and over again. The complexities of typing math therefore distracts from the mathematical learning process as students are required to think more about how to present the math instead of thinking about the logic behind completing the math. Until typing math symbols becomes more efficient, having students complete math tests and homework with older technology such as the pencil is still more effective, for now.
I am not sure there is a solution for how to help students complete math homework and tests solely on the computer. There is something to be said about writing out the steps to solve math problems. It isn’t about the writing itself so much as it is about the thinking process. By having students type their solutions, the focus becomes about how to do the typing rather than thinking about solving the math. This is an example where technology does not enhance the curriculum but makes it more difficult. Therefore, for daily work and tests, it is still easier for students to use the modern day pencil.
Any technological solution has to allow students to be focused on the math process rather than the presentation process. Writing with a pencil for students is second nature, therefore they just write what they think. In order for technology to replace pencil and paper, it will also have to be something that is second nature to students. Currently, math teachers can use programs such as Microsoft Equation Editor or Math Type. Although the programs allow for excellent presentations of math symbols, the process is tedious as you have to constantly insert objects. Then to modify you have to exit and re-enter the word processing document. It would be much more efficient if a math symbol keyboard was introduced that includes a math symbol shift key like Caps Lock. If a standardized keyboard was introduced such as the ANSI keyboard used in the US today, this would help mathematics move from paper and pencil to computer based homework and testing.
Higher level math computer based activities; there just is not much out there to use once a teacher teaches math beyond Algebra 2. More activities need to be developed for Pre-Calculus and all of Calculus. There is some activity material to access for the beginning of calculus, but once students have been introduced to the basics of the derivative and integral, there is not much more to choose from. There still has not been much developed to use for classroom discovery beyond basic calculus. Discovery at this level of math is extremely time consuming. The discovery and development of higher level calculus took centuries therefore scaffolding an activity for students to experience some of the discovery techniques is mandatory. Otherwise, direct instruction lecture to introduce calculus material continues to be more efficient.
Software developers need to start talking to high school calculus teachers and college professors about what technology can be developed to enhance higher level mathematics. Well designed technology software could really open up the discovery process for calculus students. This ability for students to learn math in a discovery setting, when appropriate, can teach students how to really think about math, not just do math. By having students think more about the applications of calculus techniques, it can lead to future inventions and more technological advancements in the future. Plus, it will create future employees who can really think and help companies improve.
The Glossary of Education Reform (2014). 21st century skills. Created by The Great Schools Partnership. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/
Roblyer, M. D. & Doerling, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.