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Technology breakthrough will help basic maths teaching

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

Maren Deepwell, chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology, explains how new collaborative efforts are creating innovative tools for learning, particularly in basic maths.

With the current heat wave telling us summer has truly arrived, thoughts of next year’s curriculum, learning plans and staff development may be the last thing on people’s minds. But leaders and practitioners know there is much to do to make sure effective use of learning technology plays a central role.

Nowhere is this more imperative than in preparation for the new curriculum which, among other things, shines a light on skills in maths and technology. To assist in this, the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), together with partners from the national Maths4us campaign led by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), has helped create a Maths Apps index to improve learning and teaching in maths. The Maths4us initiative will showcase some of the innovations from its campaign on the first day of our annual conference in Nottingham (10-12 September) which is on the theme of Building New Cultures of Learning.

In fact, the first day will see a major focus on Further Education (FE), adult learning and skills with sessions on:

  • Action and practitioner research

 

  • Innovation in learning and teaching

 

  • Use of technology and social media

 

  • Effective assessment and accreditation

These are the key areas in which collaboration and sharing of best practice come into play and we are looking forward to contributing to this exchange of knowledge among practitioners in FE. Indeed, collaboration is at the heart of our new developments for maths and technology.

We all know the extent of the problems to be addressed. According to NIACE, “one in four people in England struggle with maths”, and while it is something we need to learn at school, it is also something that we all use every day in simple tasks.

The Maths4us initiative aims to improve math skills for everyone, from parents who want to help their children learn maths to teachers and adult learners.

This development is an example of how we can use technology to help learners everywhere. As FE practitioners know, maths skills are essential for everyone, particularly as our use of technology in everyday life is increasing. From counting change to home baking, maths skills form part of what we all need to succeed.

Apps include tools for common uses such as financial planning and weight control as well as games that can help with arithmetic or geometry. The Maths Apps index has a user-friendly website where you can easily search and find what you are looking for and immediately start using the application.

Since one of ALT’s main aims is to improve practice and promote the effective use of Learning Technology, the index will help us achieve these aims as teachers can use it to find the rights apps for specific topics or types of activities. The index will help promote a relatively new technology to a type of learner who is much more likely to use the device in their pocket than a textbook.

For more information about the Maths Apps index, visit http://maths4us.alt.ac.uk or go to http://maths4us.org to find out more about the maths4us initiative. To find out more about the ALT conference, go to http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2013.

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity whose mission is to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities, and the situations into which they are placed

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