Digital Learning with Math

This post is part of a #Peel21st community “blog hop” in which participants share a digital learning experience in math.  After reading this post, be sure to click the links to others’ posts at the bottom of the page, and make your way through all of the contributors.

I am a high school physics teacher and physics naturally has a lot of math in it.  So, I decided I would post about a teaching experience I had a few years back and what it taught me about “21st century students.”


For a long time I have utilized some form of online social networking space in my classes (wikis, blogs, Ning, Elgg, Edmodo, etc.).  I have found that providing an avenue for student voice online has contributed greatly to the sense of community that is built within my classes.  Moreover, I have learned a great deal about my students and about physics from what and how my students share with the class.  I highly recommend it!

Back in 2012, I was using Edmodo because it was easy to use and was one of the few platforms that had a mobile app (something that I think is very important if you want students to use the service).  My students and I regularly shared ideas about physics, and links to YouTube videos that were either useful for learning physics, or demonstrated the amazing applications of physics.  After providing my students with some additional practice questions in class, I logged in to see this:

edmodo post 1

Followed the next day by this:

edmodo post 2

Here is what stuck out most to me:

  1. These posts collectively had 165 replies, and most of the replies were substantial contributions.
  2. The initial posts were not a call for help, but an offer of service.
  3. These students were engaged in discussing mathematical problems on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening.

Compare this with my students in years previous, who were likely sitting at home, working alone on problems, and probably getting frustrated and giving up.  These days, even if the teacher does not provide an online space for collaboration, students will often create their own because they know how much better they can learn when the connect with others.

Ultimately, the key take-away for me was that students want to learn together, and that digital learning spaces can really help to facilitate that sharing.  Even when learning a subject that is as abstract as math, online spaces permit students to discuss concepts, share what they are learning, and ask for help.  Blended learning environments are becoming essential for digital learners in the 21st century.


Pick a blog to jump to next.  Happy hopping!

Phil Young

Shivonne Lewis-Young

Jay Wigmore

Don Campbell

Jonathan So

Jason Richea

Tina Zita

Graham Whisen

 

6 Comments

  1. Graham,

    I love seeing these examples of online collaboration that is student initiated. Like you said if we can get students talking math on their own at night that is amazing.
    With my crew in grade 4, the online collaboration piece hasn`t really taken off. Maybe its the platform I`m using (Kidblog) or the age. Looking to strive to achieve your type of student discussion outside of school time.

    Reply

    1. Jay, I am secondary and have similar issue. Graham, I have also heard a story from another colleague who did not create one but his advanced physics class ended up creating their own facebook group and apparently used it all the time (he found out about it a year later).

      I have had one class on Edmodo make *some* use of the 24/7 access to each other to help/ask, but it was limited to the night before an evaluation. Recently this connection online has been very limited, if it existed at all. On the other hand, I run a flipped classroom and encourage lots of in person collaboration….so maybe they didnt have as much reason to go to the online space to do it? But I find it hard to believe they never had things they could have used it for around evaluations,etc… But I digress!

      Reply

  2. It is amazing when those moments of collaboration fall into place and the learning community that is established.

    Jay I have noticed different groups respond differently in elementary. Maybe it is due to their prior experiences or how much they are connected outside class. I know I will be observing a little more closely 😉

    Reply

  3. Edmodo, from the time I first introduced it back in 2010 until last school year the students day after day, month after month, and year after year amazed me with the degree of collaboration and support for each other in the learning journey’s they faced. Seeing offerings of support and feedback for each other is what kept me using the tool.

    Awesome to see that even secondary students saw the benefit.

    Reply

  4. Don’t you just love when collaboration works. It is a thing of beauty. Yes this collaboration could have happened without tech but not to this degree. This is really cool when you can have an impact like this and outside of the school day. Great work.

    Reply

  5. Shivonne Lewis-Young April 14, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Okay goosebumps!! I am blown away that there was that many responses – that is incredibly powerful! I think I may have actually survived high school math had I had that opportunity. Just wow!

    Reply

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