Digital Resources for Mathematics Teachers: A Brave New World

Digital Resources for Mathematics Teachers: A Brave New World

Janine M. Viglietti (University at Buffalo (SUNY), USA) and Deborah Moore-Russo (University at Buffalo (SUNY), USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3068-8.ch026


With the increased push for digital resources in mathematics education, it is increasingly necessary to develop the skills needed to navigate the ever-changing digital landscape of the World Wide Web. The purpose of this chapter is three-fold. First, we help the reader develop a better understanding of the digital landscape through discussion of the contributors and contributions of the entities developing digital resources in the field of mathematics education. Second, we consider means to successfully navigate the digital landscape by developing a better understanding of the machinations of the tools that are commonly used to seek out digital resources. Finally, we consider ways the reader can become more intelligent consumers of digital resources. We synthesize knowledge of stakeholders, resources, and search tools to help teachers and teacher educators develop the habits of mind that will help them seek out quality resources and relevant information in much in the same way as researchers do.
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Mathematics teaching determines and is determined by how technologies are used in the classroom. Recent shifts in mathematics teacher education, as well as shifts in the teaching of other content areas, have often been the result of technological innovations. As a result, teachers have not only been encouraged, but often expected, to embrace new technologies and incorporate the latest digital resources. It comes as no surprise then that those in mathematics education have been asked to “rethink the terrain” in light of recent digital resources (Hoyle & Lagrange, 2010).

Consider recent changes in mathematics education. In the middle of the 20th century, slide rules were still en vogue; however, before the end of the century the functionality of hand-held calculators rapidly increased while their prices became more affordable. At the same time, computers progressed from boxy machines programmed with stacks of cards to portable, lightweight tablets and powerful laptops. Technology seems to be changing from moment to moment. Websites fall in and out of favor quickly; resources that work one day are not always available the next. For instance, with the phase out of Java, Java-based applets are now obsolete on most browsers.

With each technological innovation, there are shifts in expectations. Teachers and teacher educators are being asked to function in an increasingly digital era. Not only are teachers being asked to learn about new digital resources, they are expected to have sufficient facility with a variety of technologies and be aware of, able to access, and able to use a bevy of digital resources in their classrooms. Teachers need time and adequate support to identify and master these digital resources (Ertmer, 2005; Kissane, McConney & Ho, 2015); yet, they do not always receive either (Baran, 2014). With little aid, teachers and teacher educators are expected to keep abreast of new digital developments and offerings made possible by new educational technologies, which impact both general pedagogy as well as mathematics-specific instruction.

In short, teachers are expected to adjust their instructional strategies to leverage the most recent digital resources on a continual basis. To address this, researchers have suggested that teacher educators should incorporate more diffuse integration of digital resources across teacher education programs (Fouger et al., 2013). Having previous experiences and digital skills would help increase teachers’ confidence, which has been determined to be a factor in their incorporation of technology (Thomas & Palmer, 2014). However, teacher educators themselves often lack expertise with digital resources (Valtonen, Havu-Nuutinen, Dillon, & Vesisenaho, 2011), and there is a general lack of clear direction on how teacher educators might best prepare teachers to leverage the ever-changing pool of digital resources in their classrooms (Herro et al., 2013). Because of this, there is a need to equip both teachers and teacher educators with tools that will help them independently and efficiently seek out, store, and evaluate digital resources.

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