In the beginning, it is always dark. (Neverending Story)

I taught mathematics at the university level for several years and spent quite a bit of time learning neat stuff that I could use in my classes.  Some of it failed spectacularly but some was useful.  It can be overwhelming to find the right tool to do the thing that needs to be done – something that is easy to use, easy to learn, and that actually supports the students’ learning in a different way.  That is, something that provides affordances that aren’t granted by paper, physical objects or discussion.

It is difficult to find the time to be really thoughtful about choice of technology and its implementation without neglecting the day-to-day work that teaching requires.  When I taught, I spent too much time learning how to use technologies that I then only used once or that didn’t support learning in the way I had expected.

When I taught, I created PowerPoints that the students could print out and write on.  I printed the notes to Windows Journal (and later OneNote) and then used them in class to write on and work out examples. I used classroom response systems: First, eInstruction Crickets and then students’ own cell phones with PollEverywhere. I used interactive website and presentation creators, such as SoftChalk and Articulate Engage, along with screen capture software, such as Camtasia and Jing, to create websites for my students and to provide them with online activities and videos as resources and study aids.

I used mathematics software such as Mathematica (and Wolfram Demonstrations Project and TI-84 SmartView). I created online homework using Desire2Learn (D2L) quizzing tools, videos of homework solutions, dynamic interactions with Wolfram Demonstrations, animations with TI-84 SmartView, and even made cardstock manipulatives that students could cut out and use at home.

Looking back, I realize that often my efforts supported development of procedural fluency without attending also to developing conceptual understanding. My view of technology is that it is a tool that should be used thoughtfully and to support learning that may be difficult (or impossible) without that particular tool.