Thursday, 6 August 2015

Thinking about learning and teaching in a digital age

I have just read a blog post by Sean McHugh about mathematics teaching in a digital age. He eloquently argues from a premise that 
It's always been a source of great consternation to me, that mathematics benchmarks around the world still appear to be completely and utterly oblivious of the implications of the impact of digital technologies in the world of mathematics
He goes on to suggest that educators in general (and of course he's probably over-generalising) appear oblivious to the impact of things digital on how we understand the world. He asks
Why is it that in schools that are blessed with the ubiquitous provision of digital technologies, one-to-one laptops and iPads, the students never learn anything about how file sizes and the measurements of these file sizes work?
I'm assuming here he's talking about those students who don't do a computer studies/science class. He certainly emphasises the point that perhaps teachers assume "a generation of digital natives automatically gets this stuff" when they don't, and argues for teaching a mathematics grounded in the here and now that looks ahead. He seeks to know why measurements such as kilobyte, megabyte and gigabyte don't feature as much as kms, litres and kgs in mathematics classroom contexts. He suggests that students do "not have the slightest clue about the units of measure that are fundamental to the devices that they rely on every day"

I refer to his post because it such a very good example of a missed opportunity to make mathematics understandable by hooking into students' everyday practices - especially when they moan with questions such as "WHY is taking so LONG to upload/download?' It is surely a teachable mathematics moment! it also links to problem-solving and problem-understanding. 

I therefore have a challenge to teachers - especially of mathematics - how might you be inspired by Sean's blog post to take on his challenge? 

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