A Multimodal Discourse on the Use of Touch Enabled Mobile Devices for Mathematics Education

A Multimodal Discourse on the Use of Touch Enabled Mobile Devices for Mathematics Education

Jenny Lane (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8714-1.ch010


The Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) iPads in School Project aimed to investigate how touch enabled mobile devices, iPads, were used in classrooms. This chapter shares findings from the research selected for their relevance for mathematics education. Qualitative and quantitative research was undertaken in ten West Australian classrooms from kindergarten to year ten, over two years. A community of practice model supported teacher reflection “on action” and “in action” aligned to national standards. Self-tracking video devices gathered evidence on how teachers were using iPads in teaching. Videos were analysed and tagged using multimodal discourse analysis software and a research-based checklist to identify effective pedagogical practices using iPads in mathematics education entitled the TIPs Mobile Pedagogies in Mathematics Checklist (Tips-Mobile-Maths) was developed. A series of short vignettes called “i-Stories” were developed. Social networking connected the teachers and was used for dissemination of research findings.
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Fullan (2012) postulated that innovations and new pedagogies are needed to transform teaching and learning to make it appropriate for learners in the 21st century. Yet the use of technology in education can be a highly contentions area. Many countries including Australia have made links between the integration of ICT in education and economic growth on a national and personal level. The UNESCO ICT-CST Project aimed to make connections between education reform, economic growth and the raising of social standards (UNESCO, 2008). There have been many claims that particular technologies, for example radio or television would transform education. Yet there is little evidence that these changes have occurred. In some cases it is reported that technology programs have been terminated for lack of educational outcomes (Holcomb, 2009; Hu, 2007). There is evidence that if these devices are not used in an effective manner they can be disruptive and can distract the students from the learning goals (Sheppard & Brown, 2011). Thomas and Palmer (2014, 71) stated “A key variable in the use of digital technology in the mathematics classroom is the teacher.” Pierce and Ball (2009), in their study on secondary teachers’ use of technology in mathematics, discuss how the introduction of technology can lead to teacher centred didactic approaches and an increase in drill and practice work. This led to the larger question, what does quality teaching in mathematics look like? Leading to the overarching research question for the research discussed in this chapter “What does effective mathematics teaching which integrates touch-enabled mobile technologies look like?” It can be argued that providing teachers with new technologies does not guarantee that there will be positive educational outcomes. There is a need for research on ways to monitor the quality of teaching and the impact on student learning outcomes when using technology in mathematics education. “Simply buying devices, without considering teachers and their students know how to use them, is of dubious educational value” (Peluso, 2012, 126). As indicated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in the quotation below, it is the teachers’ work in classrooms that provides the interface between the rhetoric and reality, teachers make the curriculum tangible for students.

Through the ongoing and effective use of technology in the schooling process, students have the opportunity to acquire important technology capabilities. The key individual in helping students develop these capabilities is the classroom teacher. The teacher is responsible for establishing the classroom environment and preparing the learning opportunities that facilitate students’ use of technology to learn, and communicate. Consequently it is critical that all classroom teachers are prepared to provide their students with these opportunities (UNESCO, 2008, 1).

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