SOUNDOFF--A Computer for All Students--Revisited

The introduction of the graphing calculator has changed the structure of teaching and learning mathematics. This made it possible for everybody to receive the benefits of a computer-generated visualization without the high cost of a computer. These graphing calculators over the years have lowered in cost, became easier to use, and are more portable.

The next generation of graphing computers has arrived with the recent introduction of the Texas Instrument TI-92. This relative inexpensive calculator will allow more high school teachers to teach an area mostly untouched, computer symbolic algebra and computer interactive geometry, because it has not been practical or possible. The TI-92 is merely the beginning of the new revolution of hand-held computing tools.

The next challenge mathematics teachers are facing is the teaching of traditional paper-and-pencil symbolic algebra skills. This task has been made obsolete by the more accurate and faster computer symbolic algebra algorithms. Students can get a far better illustration of important concepts and applications of mathematics with these new hand-held tools than with the traditional paper-and-pencil task.

The paper-and-pencil task and other traditional skills must still be acquired, but students should spend less time acquiring it. More emphasize must be put on computing tools. Students should take advantage of the computer technology to become powerful and thoughtful "problem solvers."

The process of changing from traditional methods to a more computer-oriented environment has to be met by the education and mathematics community. Educators should have textbooks that better represents the new technology. Teachers need to be more technology literate. The mathematics community must dispel the image of "doing mathematics" with the traditional paper-and-pencil method.

These reforms can better teach students important skills needed for the future. The use of technology in mathematics will give students an advantage mathematics and related technology. Students will need that advantage if they wish to compete in the twenty-first century.

Opinion

This article stressed very important issues educators, teachers, and the mathematics community must face. The reform will change the course of mathematics in school and elsewhere. As a student, I am very concern about the future of mathematics. My future plans will revolve around mathematics and technology. I understand the need to continue using the paper-and-pencil methods, but computing tools should be added to the current criteria.

The future will be technologically intense and very competitive. Graphing calculators has enhanced mathematics and I think the new powerful computing tools will do the same for the next generation. These hand-held computers are inexpensive and contain very powerful and versatile computer software. This could be the computer for all mathematics students.

October 14, 1997

Math 5A

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