We Need Better Teaching Tools to Help Math Students Learn 3-Dimensional Problems


It seems we have a great opportunity right now in our education system with all the new technology which is coming forth. Consider if you will back in the day, everyone was using textbooks, and it’s very difficult to use a textbook and a chock board on a two-dimensional plane to teach math students how to figure out the area of a sphere or an irregular blob type object on a three-dimensional plane. Today, we have CADCAM computers which help aerospace designers, and well, the designers of just about everything do their job, making it a lot easier thanks to the excellent computational mathematics programming.

Unfortunately, not a lot of these tools have made it into our high schools IB Internal assessment tutors, community colleges, and lower-level university math classes. However, we should be using them, in fact we should have full on 3-D technologies, if not holographic imagery to do this. And it’s not as if such tools don’t exist, all of these tools do exist in the entertainment industry.

Not long ago, on June 15, 2011 in the technology section of the Wall Street Journal there was a very interesting article by Daisuke Wakabayshi which was titled “Social Tool Gives Lift to 3D’s – New Nintendo System’s Networking Feature Is a Surprise Draw for Gamers,” meanwhile, just by the title you can understand that the kids, and teens of our information age are using these gaming platforms, and enjoying them very much.

Luckily, many educators have decided not to fight it, and allow some of these technologies into the classroom, and I believe that’s a good idea. Just as back in the day folks were using slide rules, and trying to keep Calculators out of the classroom, that didn’t last for long either. Some old-timers say that was our biggest mistake, because these students have no idea the approximation of what their answer should be, or where the decimal point ought to be, and therefore often come to the wrong answer on their calculator by either putting in the incorrect data, or not understanding what they are doing.

Now then, I realize the gamers are quite happy to be using this for their entertainment activities, but I think I was educators ought to realize that it is time to leverage these technologies at a faster pace into our educational system. Far too often, what I see is that a company with brilliant technology, however a couple of generations back, gets a big contract with the school district, and by the time they implement it three years have gone by, and the costs are out of control and the technology is old.

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